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Thursday, May 2, 2013
USC lands commitment No. 4

By Blair Angulo

After signing only one defensive line prospect in the 2013 class, USC figured to amp up its pursuit this recruiting cycle.

Fresno (Calif.) Central defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood became the first to commit, doing so at the school's junior day event in late February just moments after sitting down with assistant coach Ed Orgeron. The second piece fell into place on Thursday, when juco defensive tackle Michael Wyche (Chesapeake, Va./East Los Angeles College) unofficially visited campus and committed to the Trojans shortly after coach Lane Kiffin extended a scholarship offer.

"He's a really nice kid," East Los Angeles College coach Steve Mojarro said of his 6-foot-4, 330-pound lineman. "He committed today and we're all excited for him."

The USC coaches figure to be just as excited.

Wyche, who intends to enroll in December and participate in spring practice next year, would have two years to play two seasons, according to Mojarro. Wyche, though, is set to apply for a hardship waiver with the NCAA to regain his redshirt year since his mother lost her battle with cancer in February.

Wyche also had offers from Arkansas State, Troy and Washington State.

"The thing about him is he's going to demand a double team," Mojarro said. "That's exciting for us. Two offensive linemen are going to have to block him, which puts us at four-on-four in the line battle. It's not that he's a true plugger because he can actually get through people, but he's got the ability and size to get a strong push up front."

USC has four commitments in the 2014 recruiting class, with Wyche, Smallwood, offensive guard Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) and offensive tackle Jordan Poland (La Jolla, Calif./Country Day School).

With the change to a 5-2 defensive front in new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's scheme, the recruitment of big bodies is crucial. The Trojans suffered four D-line decommitments prior to national signing day in Feburary: Kylie Fitts (UCLA), Jason Hatcher (Kentucky), Torrodney Prevot (Oregon) and Eddie Vanderdoes (Notre Dame).

USC signed only one tackle last year, early enrollee Kenny Bigelow (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy).

"All the Pac-12 schools are going to come by to see him," Mojarro said. "But he's a great kid. If he gives his word, it means something. He would like to take a few trips and check out other campuses to make the right decision, and other coaches know that. But I don't see it happening where he will change his mind. He really likes USC."