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Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Top USC Trojans recruit misses

By Johnny Curren

While the Trojans and their coaching staff have been among the best recruiters in the country in recent years, they haven't been perfect. Of course, when it comes to recruiting, nobody's perfect. It's an inexact science where can't-miss prospects miss with regularity.

Here's a look at five highly touted USC recruits who, for a variety of reasons, never made the expected contribution.

1. WR Whitney Lewis, St. Bonaventure (Ventura, Calif.), Class of 2003
Even in a class filled with big-name stars like Reggie Bush and LenDale White, Lewis was arguably the most prized prospect in his class. Instead of flourishing, however, he rarely saw the field in his time at USC, battling conditioning issues before winding up at Northern Iowa after three seasons.

2. RB Dillon Baxter, Mission Bay (San Diego, Calif.), Class of 2010
Accounting for a state-record 76 touchdowns during his senior season, Baxter was generally regarded as one of the most exciting playmakers in his class. Once at USC, however, he made a series of poor decisions and was off the squad by October 2011. He played this past fall for Baker -- a NAIA program in Kansas.

3. TE Blake Ayles, Lutheran (Orange, Calif.), Class of 2008
The top-ranked tight end in the nation in 2008, Ayles battled injuries and made just 14 receptions in three seasons at USC. He transferred to Miami in 2011, but concussions ended his career before he ever played a down for the Hurricanes.

4. WR/FB D.J. Shoemate, Servite (Anaheim, Calif.), Class of 2008
Shoemate was somewhat of a prep legend in Southern California, shining all over the field for Servite as a wide receiver, running back, defensive end and linebacker. As a Trojan, though, he never quite caught on, moving from receiver to fullback before eventually transferring to Connecticut in 2010. At UConn, Shoemate was forced to call it quits in the spring of 2012 due to a career-ending shoulder injury.

5. S Patrick Hall, St. Bonaventure (Ventura, Calif.), Class of 2009
Ranked as the No. 9 athlete in his class, Hall was an elite prospect at both safety and running back, helping to lead the Seraphs to state titles in 2007 and 2008. Unfortunately, he never really got a chance to show what he could do as a Trojan. Tearing ligaments in his right knee in 2009, and then in his left knee in 2011, he is no longer with the team.