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Thursday, January 10, 2013
USC primed for recruiting drama

By Blair Angulo

The sudden decommitment of ESPN 150 defensive end Kylie Fitts (Redlands, Calif./Redlands East Valley) on Tuesday added a twist to the ever-changing USC recruiting landscape, stirring a bit of drama with less than four weeks until national signing day.
Leon McQuay
Landing Leon McQuay III was big for USC's class as other recruits change their minds.
Yes, the Trojans landed a commitment from No. 3-rated safety Leon McQuay (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) at the Under Armour All-American Game, but losing a longtime commit such as Fitts so late in the process hurt. FItts hasn’t entirely eliminated USC as his final destination, but even if the Trojans were to lose him to a Pac-12 rival, the outlook is great heading into the ever-important Feb. 6 date.

The recruiting class sits at 14 commits and appears to have four remaining spots, but that number won’t be confirmed by the school and seems to be directly tied to the addition of Silas Redd before last season. USC kicks off its big recruiting weekend on Jan. 18, with eight visitors confirmed to be on campus, including former commit and top priority Eddie Vanderdoes.

Aside from keeping the recruiting class intact, linebacker appears to be the biggest remaining focus for the coaching staff. The Trojans have a solid commitment from No. 4-rated outside linebacker Michael Hutchings, and he’ll be joined on campus for the Jan. 18 weekend by five-star Matthew Thomas (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington) and four-star Quinton Powell (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland). Assistant coach Tee Martin, who was integral in the recruitment of McQuay, hopes to reach into the Sunshine State for more.

USC’s once shimmering defensive line group of Fitts, Vanderdoes, Kenny Bigelow, Jason Hatcher and Torrodney Prevot appears to be in flux. Vanderdoes decommitted before the U.S. Army All-American Bowl week to reassess his options and, although he is still considering the Trojans, USC is in a serious recruiting battle with UCLA, Washington, Notre Dame and Alabama.

Hatcher has remained solid, but the recent commitment of good friend and high school teammate James Quick to Louisville might be worth monitoring the next few weeks. Prevot, meanwhile, has already officially visited USC but continues to hear from other schools. The four-star defensive end has scheduled a trip to Notre Dame for the Jan. 25 weekend.

Adding Texas commit A’Shawn Robinson might be another possibility before signing day, but the four-star defensive tackle has been mum regarding his recruitment ever since his Dec. 7 visit to USC.

Of course, there is still another big fish out there in the form of five-star defensive end Carl Lawson (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton), a longtime Auburn commit who is considering an official visit to USC. And then there’s juco offensive tackle Desmond Harrison (San Pablo, Calif./Contra Costa College), who thoroughly enjoyed his Dec. 14 trip to Los Angeles. The Trojans had the final visit to leave the last impression before he returned home to North Carolina, but Harrison told HornsNation this week he expects to make a decision soon despite not meeting with the USC coaches at his home lately.

Interior offensive lineman Khaliel Rodgers, coming off a superb week in San Antonio, is firm with his commitment and will be on campus Jan. 18. Joining him on campus will be ESPN 300 offensive tackle Nico Falah, who is still solid but strongly considering Washington, which remains in hot pursuit.

At running back, four-star Justin Davis will enroll early and attend his first class Jan. 14, and Ty Isaac said during Under Armour All-American Game week he is fully committed to the Trojans despite the persistence of other schools such as Notre Dame and Michigan.

ESPN 150 athlete Sebastian LaRue decommitted last week, leaving four-star Steven Mitchell as the only receiver in the recruiting class. That’s not necessarily a problem, given that USC has depth at the position with Marqise Lee, Nelson Agholor, George Farmer, Victor Blackwell, De’Von Flournoy and Darreus Rogers.

The next month still offers many possibilities, but the general outlook couldn’t be better for a program that just limped through a vastly disappointing 7-6 season.