- Brandon P. Oliver, Reporter, DuckNation
Despite their recent woes -- including a loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl -- there is no doubting that, overall, USC is the premier program in the Pac-12. Between their history of success and continued recruiting prowess, the Trojans occupy a unique place in the league.
After USC was hammered by the NCAA in 2010, the Trojans took a step back. On the field, the once-mighty empire was no longer the team no one wanted to play.
But in recruiting, Kiffin's bunch maintained its edge. One look at USC's 2013 class eliminates any argument that their stature is in question. Even after losing three of their prized recruits, the Trojans have 11 players committed that reside in the ESPN 150. They lost S Max Redfield (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo), WR Eldridge Massington (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite) and DT Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer) to decommitments and still sit at No. 4 in the ESPN class rankings.
Now, players thought to be rock-solid commits, such as LB Michael Hutchings (Concord, Calif./De La Salle), CB Jalen Ramsey (Nashville, Tenn./Brentwood Academy) and OL Nico Falah (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), are taking visits to other schools.
In recent years, Oregon, Stanford and UCLA have been able to secure pledges from recruits the Trojans were either pursuing or already had verbal commitments from. Despite losing out on De'Anthony Thomas, Arik Armstead and Colt Lyerla to Oregon; Joshua Garnett to Stanford; and Jordan Payton, Dietrich Riley and Ellis McCarthy to UCLA, USC's Pac-12 recruiting stranglehold remained intact after the NCAA sanctions hit.
Oregon has made big strides in recruiting, but the Ducks' unique style extends beyond the offense and the uniforms. Chip Kelly recruits a very specific type of player, so he doesn't always cross paths with the Trojans on the recruiting trail.
But with a few USC commits opening up their recruitments and others still looking around, could the Ducks looking to sneak in late and pick away at the Trojans' touted class? Here's a look at three players Oregon could make a late push for:
OL Nico Falah (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco): The No. 224 player in the ESPN 300 visited Oregon late in the season but more recently visited Seattle to check out Washington. Falah has always wanted to stay in state but after being blown away by his visit to Washington, the Huskies have a legitimate shot at landing the U.S. Army All-American.
LB Michael Hutchings (Concord, Calif./De La Salle): The top linebacker in the West committed to the Trojans in June and seemed to be locked in. Now he's planning on taking a visit to Washington before signing day.
CB Jalen Ramsey (Nashville, Tenn./Brentwood Academy): The nation's No. 7 CB -- No. 48 in the ESPN 150 -- committed to the Trojans during the summer. That hasn't stopped him from visiting a number of other programs. Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi State and Washington all received official visits from the U.S. Army All-American. Oregon and other schools have come in with late offers but don't expect Ramsey to entertain them very seriously.
So it doesn't appear as if the Ducks will flip any of the Trojans' top prospects in the Class of 2013. Of course, the same thing was said at this point in 2011 before top USC commit De'Anthony Thomas visited Oregon and inked with the Ducks on signing day.