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Tuesday, July 2, 2013
USC recruiting: Positions of need

By Blair Angulo

A look at the top five positions of need for USC in the 2014 class:

Cornerback

Adoree' Jackson
The Trojans are hoping to add CB Adoree' Jackson as one of their in-state targets.
The Trojans added only one cornerback prospect in the 2013 class after missing on Jermaine Kelly (Washington) and Jalen Ramsey (Florida State) on national signing day, and the lack of depth at the position appears to be a glaring issue heading into fall camp. Simply put, history cannot repeat itself in this recruiting cycle. With in-state targets such as Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) still on the board, USC could potentially haul in a great group of cornerbacks. If the Trojans miss on one or both of those, they might pursue other Southern California-based corners such as Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial), Naijiel Hale (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Jonathan Lockett (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) and John Plattenburg  (Corona, Calif./Centennial).

Defensive end

Kylie Fitts (UCLA), Jason Hatcher (Kentucky) and Torrodney Prevot (Oregon) decommitted shortly before national signing day in February, leaving a gaping hole in a recruiting class that at one point also included five-star prospect Eddie Vanderdoes (UCLA). Defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow was the only defensive lineman to sign with the Trojans last year, which means they desperately need to stock up in this last year of NCAA-mandated scholarship limitations. USC has a verbal commitment from Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and appear to be in good shape with four-star prospect Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), as well as some national recruits.

Receiver

Like at the cornerback and defensive line positions, USC signed only one receiver in the 2013 class, Steven Mitchell of nearby Pasadena. But Mitchell, who many expected to contribute as a freshman this fall, is out for the year after tearing ligaments in his knee while participating in offseason voluntary workouts. The Trojans are also faced with the imminent departure of reigning Biletnikoff Award winner Marqise Lee to the NFL, which should raise the urgency level for position coach Tee Martin in this cycle. Ermon Lane (Homestead, Fla./Homestead Senior), Speedy Noil (New Orleans/Edna Karr), Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central) and John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) appear to be the four primary targets heading into the summer.

Offensive guard

Three of USC’s six verbal commits play on the offensive line, but only one, ESPN 300 member Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), projects at guard at the next level. The Trojans signed Khaliel Rodgers in February, but could certainly use more beef in the trenches. ESPN 300 prospect Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) could very well commit in the weeks leading up to national signing day, which could help the Trojans lure his good friend and fellow ESPN 300 member Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) from signing with Alabama.

Quarterback

When longtime priority Keller Chryst (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto) committed to Stanford just prior to the start of the Elite 11 quarterback competition, the Trojans lost another California-based option. Elite 11 competitors Kyle Carta-Samuels (Vanderbilt), Morgan Mahalak (Oregon) and Manny Wilkins (Arizona State) are off the board, meaning Brandon Dawkins (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) might soon emerge as the signal-caller to sandwich between freshman Max Browne and 2015 commit David Sills. If the Trojans decide not to go after a quarterback in 2014, they could take two in 2015, given how loaded the group is locally.