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Tuesday, October 29, 2013
USC continues to build 2014 class

By Blair Angulo

A recent string of recruiting activity has left USC with eight verbal commitments in the 2014 class and clearer outlook at the areas of need with national signing day just over three months away. The Trojans signed 12 prospects last February and will have an extra four scholarships to use in the current class for a total of 19. Here’s a position-by-position look at how the they could allocate those spots:

Offensive line: 4

A major focus for USC in this class, given the lack of depth and presence of an elite prospect in its own backyard. The Trojans lost a commitment from highly regarded tackle Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), but solid building blocks remain.

Commits: No. 8 OG Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), No. 19 OT Jordan Poland (La Jolla, Calif./Country Day School), No. 138 OT Jordan Austin (Claremont, Calif./Claremont)

Five to watch: Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Chris Brown (Los Angeles/Loyola), David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence), Kaleb McGary (Fife, Wash./Fife), Andrew Mike (Tucson, Ariz./Sabino)

Defensive line: 4

Defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow was the only lineman to sign with USC in the previous cycle after four others decommitted. Juco prospect Michael Wyche (Chesapeake, Va./East Los Angeles College) and ESPN 300 member Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central) have decommitted this year, but position coach Ed Orgeron could still make a splash.

Commits: No. 21 DE Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), No. 56 DT Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial), No. 111 DE Olajuwon Tucker (Gardena, Calif./Serra)

Five to watch: Claudeson Pelon (Orlando, Fla./Mesa Community College), Joshua Frazier (Springdale, Ark./Har-Ber), Gerald Willis III (New Orleans, La./Edna Karr), Ismael Murphy-Richardson (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge), Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln)

Defensive back: 3

The last-minute switch of standout cornerback Jalen Ramsey from USC to Florida State last year was perhaps the biggest recruiting blow. It appears USC will have to do some picking of its own this time around.

Five to watch: John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), Jaleel Wadood (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial), Tee Shepard (Fresno, Calif./Holmes Community College), Ajene Harris (Los Angeles/Crenshaw)

Receiver: 3

With star Marqise Lee expected to declare early for the NFL, this cycle is a crucial one for the receivers group moving forward as the Trojans hope to build depth around Nelson Agholor, Darreus Rogers and Steven Mitchell for 2014.

Commit: No. 119 Shay Fields Jr. (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco)

Five to watch: Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), Speedy Noil (New Orleans, La./Edna Karr), Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central), Jordan Lasley (Gardena, Calif./Serra), Adly Enoicy (Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic)

Linebacker: 2

Four-star prospect D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) decommitted earlier this month following a visit to Arizona State and eventually gave the Sun Devils a verbal pledge. The Trojans could go for the under-the-radar types, though assistant coach Mike Ekeler has his sights set on some big names from the Midwest.

Commit: No. 77 OLB Uchenna Nwosu (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne)

Five to watch: Fred Warner (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills), Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./South), Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee), Raekwon McMillan (Hinesville, Ga./Liberty County), Vincent Jackson Jr. (Tampa, Fla./Jesuit)

Tight end: 1

The Trojans have been decimated by injuries at the tight end spot this season and didn’t sign any in the last class, so bringing in one or two would be ideal in 2014.

Five to watch: Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure), Jean Sifrin (Miami/El Camino College), Garrett Dickerson (Oradell, N.J./Bergen Catholic), Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada), Marquis Ware (Los Angeles/Salesian)

Quarterback: 1

With pocket passer Max Browne in tow and 2015 QB David Sills committed, USC would undoubtedly like to bring in a quarterback in 2014. But if that doesn’t happen, there are many options in 2015 as well.

Five to watch: Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade), Drew Doxtator (Henderson, Nev./Liberty), Keaton Dunsford (Santa Rosa, Calif./Cardinal Newman), Brandon Dawkins (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), JaJuan Lawson (Petaluma, Calif./Casa Grande)

Running back: 1

Not the most pressing need, given the youth of Justin Davis and Ty Isaac, but the Trojans could use another tailback to add to the mix.

Five to watch: Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine), Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central), Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford), Tre Watson (Corona, Calif./Centennial), Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale)