On Wednesday, the unofficial holiday known as National Signing Day, it was the first day that high school football seniors were able to sign their letter of intents to the college of their choice to play football at the next level. For colleges, it was the day where they can reload in any position lacking in depth and also sign the best players available at those positions. For the USC Trojans, it was no different.
Head coach Lane Kiffin and staff traveled not only in Southern California, but across the country to send their best message to the top uncommitted high school prospects that USC should be the school to enroll. USC's appeal on the sanctions that were laid down on them from the NCAA is still in limbo, but Kiffin did a tremendous job of not letting the sanctions weigh on a prospect's decision.
That was evident on National Signing Day as USC received 30 letters of intent.
"Well, I think this is an exciting day for the Trojan family," said Lane Kiffin at his post-signing day press conference late Wednesday. "I said this was going to be a very critical off-season for us, and one that we're going to spend every day working on this class so hopefully we didn't have a season like we did before. I think today we've made a step towards that. With our staff working extremely hard, we've been able to add 30 players to our roster."
Signing a full roster only complicated matters on exactly how many prospects USC can sign through sanctions . But Lane Kiffin addressed the media that he "followed the guidelines" regarding that and made sure he was signing as many players as he can through the guidelines of their appeal.
"I just know as it went along, we were always working on the best plan for our roster," said Kiffin. "I just think in an appeal process they just want to make sure that what they were doing was exactly what we were allowed to do."
As for the new roster, USC's main objective in this class was to load up on the offensive line, line backer, and defensive line positions. With assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron, who was tabbed as recruiting coordinator of the year according to Scout.com, orchestrating the staff, USC was able to land impact players on its needs.
On the offensive line, USC signed five prospects including two that have already enrolled at USC in January. The two that enrolled are Jeremy Galten (San Mateo, Calif.) and David Garness (San Fransisco, Calif.). Both are junior college recruits who were able to transer at USC, but more importantly, add bodies for spring training. USC loses Tyron Smith as he will enter the 2011 NFL Draft, and seniors Kris O'Dowd and Zack Heberer.
The other three are Marcus Martin (Los Angeles, Calif.), Cyrus Hobbi (Scottsdale, Ariz.), and Aundrey Walker (Cleveland Oh.). Hobbi and Walker are 4-star offensive guard prospects according to scouting service Rivals.com, while Walker is the top guard nationally. Martin is the local from Crenshaw high school and can contribute immediately in the interior of the line as he his massive at 6-3, 357 pounds.
Walker is the jewel in this class of offensive linemen as USC grabbed him away from Glenville Academy in Cleveland, Ohio. Glenville Academy recruits almost always lean into signing with local school Ohio State University, so taking Walker away from Cleveland was a surprise.
"When you study it, and they're out from the state of Ohio, they usually go to Ohio State," said Kiffin discussing Walker's recruitment. "For us to be able to go get those done was critical for us...Aundrey's 375 pounds, 6'5", so gives us some size there and we'll see. We'll plug they will in and see what he can do."
The linebackers include a strong core of talented prospects. USC was able to land the top prospect in the state of Kentucky in Lamar Dawson (Danville, Ky.), who Kiffin thinks very highly of and was another surprise prospect to pick USC in the end.
"You'd usually like to think that you're going to get them or at least be in the top two," said Kiffin in regards of highly touted out of state prospects. " He was in the middle of Kentucky, obviously, not right down the road, in SEC territory. A very good student, team leader, potential great player, obviously a very big position of linebacker."
Along with Dawson, USC was able to sign Tre Madden (Mission Viejo, Calif.) and Anthony Sarao (Absecon, N.J.), who are both 4-stars with Madden being the top linebacker in the West region, according to Rivals.com. The other linebacker to enroll is Dallas Kelly (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), who enrolled in January.
Though the defensive line wasn't seen as a major position of need to fill, USC still needed a large class as a couple of the current linemen were entering their senior years. USC won on Christian Heyward (San Diego, Calif.), who was considering hard on San Diego State and Oregon, and Antwaun Woods (Woodland Hills, Calif.). Both are four-star recruits and participated in the Under Armour All-American game. Cody Temple (Bakerfield, Calif.) and J.R. Tavai (Redondo Beach, Calif.) are 3-star recruits with high potential, according to the USC coaches. Tavai participated in the Polynesian Bowl, it's inaugural bowl game, which is dedicated to Polynesian-descent players and had a good game.
USC was also able to land the top prospect in California in George Farmer (Gardena, Calif.). Farmer is a five-star recruit in the major recruiting service websites and is considered the top wide receiver in the nation.
Given the circumstances, USC was still able to land one of the best classes in the nation. Recruiting is a hard game in itself as it is a very fluid process. Though the past two recruiting classes hasn't proved much on the field yet, this is a large step forward in the right path for Kiffin and USC.