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Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Spring commits not in vogue at USC

By Garry Paskwietz

The spring evaluation period is normally a time when USC fans are used to seeing plenty of activity in the recruiting landscape as the coaches are out visiting the schools of their top targets.

Last year, this was the time when the USC class really started to pick up steam with a string of commitments from players such as Max Browne, Su’a Cravens and Kylie Fitts. The Trojans built upon that momentum and by the time summer was over, Lane Kiffin and company had a class that was ranked No. 1 in the country.

As any USC fan can tell you, however, that’s not the way things ended up when signing day rolled around. In a crazy turn of events, eight players who were committed to the Trojans ended up decommitting at some point – some at the hands of the USC coaches and some from the players' end. Included in that group were three high-profile signing day flips from out-of-state defensive prospects and the decisions by two former defensive line commits to play for USC’s biggest rivals.

The Trojans still finished with a class of quality players; it was just a smaller class than expected. With 13 total commits, USC ranked No. 14 in the ESPN class rankings. No school ranked ahead of the Trojans had fewer than 22 commits.

While it certainly hurts to lose so many quality players, there was also a lingering impact from those defections in terms of how USC fans are viewing early commits.

Last week, offensive lineman Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) decided to decommit from the Trojans after making a verbal pledge in 2012. The news was not a huge surprise; Tucker had long been making it clear that he would be entertaining offers from other schools and it was known that Stanford and the Arizona schools were coming hard.

What was interesting was the reaction from USC fans on the message boards. Rather than an uproar about Tucker going back on his verbal, the reaction was actually taken well in stride. Sure, there were some critical comments, but there were plenty of fans who were taking the stance that early verbals don’t mean much and they only were worried about who ended up signing in February.

The decommit from Tucker leaves the Trojans with only three commits for the Class of 2014 in a year when USC can take up to 20 players, if you include early enrollees. Under normal circumstances, USC fans would be anxious to see those spots fill up as quickly as possible. But after what happened last year, it’s safe to say there is a little more patience and restraint with the process this year.