Banner will impact USC ranking


The ESPNU team recruiting ranking list released early Monday was the final ranking before signing day. The USC Trojans were ranked No. 16 when the list came out, but that ranking might very well have been different if the list had come out later in the day.

USC received a huge boost of recruiting news Monday afternoon -– literally and figuratively -– when offensive tackle Zach Banner (Lakewood, Wash./Lakes) announced that he would play for the Trojans.

Banner (6-foot-8, 305 pounds) is a member of the ESPNU 150 and is ranked as the No. 15 offensive tackle in the class. Not only is Banner an elite player, but offensive tackle was a critical position of need for the Trojans, so this pickup was a big one.

USC has a hole on the depth chart at left tackle right now after the early departure of Matt Kalil to the NFL, and the USC coaches made it clear to prospects this year that they would get the opportunity to compete for the spot.

Previous USC commits Jordan Simmons (Encino, Calif./Crespi) and Max Tuerk (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita) can play either guard or tackle, but the coaches ideally would love to play both at guard. With Banner in the fold –- along with early enrollee Chad Wheeler -– the Trojans now have a set of tackles coming in as well.

The Trojans might not be done along the offensive line, either. Andrus Peat (Tempe, Ariz./Corona Del Sol) and Kyle Murphy (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente) are highly-ranked tackles, who are still considering USC, Peat is considered the more likely option of the two, as the latest rumors have Murphy headed to Stanford. USC also has shown interest in offensive guard Hiva Lutui (Euless, Tex./Trinity), but no offer has been extended to this point.

USC also could rise in the post-signing day team rankings if it adds talent on the defensive side of the ball, as well. A pair of elite defensive linemen are still in the mix, with Leonard Williams (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) and Aziz Shittu (Atwater, Calif./Buhach Colony). There is also a chance USC could make a late run at another cornerback such as Brandon Beaver (Compton, Calif./Dominguez).

Of course, a big splash for the Trojans could also come on signing day with Nelson Agholor (Tampa, Fla./Berkeley Prep), as the No. 6 wide receiver in the ESPNU rankings is expected to choose between USC and Florida with a lot of speculation that the Trojans are the favorite.