Scholarship limitations didn't prevent USC from filling its recruiting class more than six months before national signing day, and it likely won't hinder its pursuit of elite talent.
The Trojans' class sits at 18 players -- eight of whom intend to enroll next spring -- with three counting toward the 2012 group. That would leave only 10 available spots when the first Wednesday of February rolls by, but a lot can happen between now and then.
Here are five top athletes who are still in contact with USC and could end up wearing the cardinal and gold.
The teammate: Tahaan Goodman (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) -- A high school teammate and good friend of USC cornerback commit Chris Hawkins, Goodman is a prospect with national attention and will likely wait until the season ends to make his decision. He's been close to committing to the Trojans before, and mutual interest is there. But Goodman, who has scheduled an official visit to LSU for the weekend of Nov. 2 when the Tigers host Alabama, will look around.
The local: Joe Mathis (Upland, Calif./Upland) -- With USC defensive end commit Kylie Fitts (Redlands, Calif./Redlands East Valley) off the board, Mathis is the area's best available lineman. If the commitments of Jason Hatcher (Louisville, Ky./Trinity) and Torrodney Prevot (Houston/Alief Taylor) were to change, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Mathis would be a solid local option.
The wildcard: Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) -- The nation's third-ranked safety was set to announce his choice earlier this month but, for now, will likely wait until the high school season ends. McQuay, a natural ball hawk, has USC in his top three -- Florida State and Vanderbilt are the other two -- and with the Trojans perhaps encountering depth issues in the secondary next fall, you'd think the interest here goes both ways. Plus, if Max Redfield (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo) were to switch from safety to receiver, a la Marqise Lee, McQuay would be a great complement to Su'a Cravens (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta).
The five-star: Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) -- There's always room for the nation's top-ranked tackle, regardless of the fact that all 18 spots have been filled. Yes, difficult decisions would have to be made if the 6-foot-6, 295-pound Tunsil were to hop on board, but elite five-star tackles only come around so often. The Trojans would have to beat out SEC powers Alabama, Florida and Georgia, but it's been done before. Tunsil has said he intends to officially visit USC, so the coaches will have their chance. Landing Tunsil would be a consolation of sorts after whiffing on eventual Stanford signees Kyle Murphy and Andrus Peat last year.
The corner: Priest Willis (Tempe, Ariz./Marcos de Niza) -- Willis, the nation's fourth-ranked safety, might make the switch to cornerback in college, a move that would work in his favor if he were to end up at USC, where Cravens and Redfield figure to be staples at safety. Willis and Goodman have stated their intent to play together in college, and both will be in Baton Rouge, La., for the Alabama game. Willis said he has seen the USC campus enough and won't use one of his official visits on the Trojans, but he remains an option if there's movement with the class.