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What might have been for USC

2/4/2014

USC’s upcoming recruiting haul will be the final group restricted by the NCAA penalties handed down in 2010. Limited to signing 15 athletes per class beginning in 2012 while also being forced to maintain a roster of no more than 75 scholarship players, the Trojans were docked a total of 30 total scholarships through next season.

The effects of the penalties have been felt even more than most imagined as, when coupled with injuries, the Trojans have had to deal with major depth issues. Not only that, but many of the quality players USC would have landed under normal circumstances now line up for Trojans opponents, making the team’s job on the field that much more challenging.

With that in mind, here are 10 recruits from each of the past three recruiting classes who could have been at USC.

Class of 2014

WR Shay Fields Jr. (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco)

Committed to: Colorado

Fields committed to the Trojans in October but opened up his recruitment when there were signs that the new USC staff was headed in another direction.

DT Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial)

Committed to: Oregon

Maloata is another former USC pledge who ultimately fell victim to the numbers crunch.

OL Jordan Poland (La Jolla, Calif./La Jolla Country Day)

Committed to: Arizona

Committed to USC for 18 months, Poland and the Trojans parted ways when he could no longer enroll early.

OL Bobby Johnson (Carson, Calif./Carson)

Committed to: Fresno State

A local product who appeared to be an insurance option for the Trojans, Johnson recently committed to Fresno State.

LB Dwight Williams (Gardena, Calif./Serra)

Committed to: UCLA

Although he doesn’t possess ideal physical measurables, Williams was productive at Serra and had more than 30 offers, but not one from USC.

DE Jaylen Johnson (Corona, Calif./Centennial)

Committed to: Washington

Johnson was offered in June by the Trojans, but new UW coach Chris Peterson pursued him harder than anyone.

TE Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada)

Committed to: Notre Dame

Even with Bryce Dixon in the fold, with the team low on numbers at the position, Steve Sarkisian and Co. would have likely taken two tight ends this year if they could.

DE Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco)

Committed to: UCLA

A player whose family is filled with Trojans fans, Tuioti-Mariner is a talented defensive end that the staff could never pull the trigger on.

ATH Marquis Ware (Los Angeles/Salesian)

Committed to: Arizona

An area standout with a long list of suitors, USC showed interest in Ware early, but it never went beyond that.

DE/TE Jahlani Tavai (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa)

Committed to: Hawaii

Tavai, whose brother J.R plays for the Trojans, is the typical under-the-radar prospect whom they might normally offer late.

Class of 2013

OL Sean Harlow (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente)

Signed with: Oregon State

The son of former USC offensive lineman Pat Harlow, he never received an offer from the Trojans but started nine games as a freshman for the Beavers.

TE Thomas Duarte (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei)

Signed with: UCLA

Duarte, who grew up a USC fan but wasn’t pursued by the Trojans until it was too late, hauled in 16 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns for the Bruins in 2013.

DE Kylie Fitts (Redlands, Calif./Redlands East Valley)

Signed with: UCLA

Fitts committed to USC in May of his junior year, but later spurned the Trojans in favor of UCLA late in the process when he learned that he couldn’t come in as a midyear enrollee.

WR Eldridge Massington (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite)

Signed with: UCLA

Another early pledge to the Trojans, Massington tore the ACL in his left knee while attending a camp at Tennessee and his relationship with the USC staff never appeared to be the same afterwards.

WR/CB Sebastian LaRue (Santa Monica, Calif./Santa Monica)

Signed with: Texas A&M

LaRue committed soon after an outstanding camp showing, but he decommitted a month prior to signing day. He recently announced that he will transfer to Washington State.

CB Jermaine Kelly (Los Angeles/Salesian)

Signed with: Washington

Lane Kiffin and the USC staff scrambled for Kelly unsuccessfully following the last-second defection of Jalen Ramsey to Florida State.

WR/DB Tyree Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln)

Signed with: Oregon

The likelihood of fitting both Tyree -- who starred at the USC Skills Camp -- and his brother, Tyrell, into the class always appeared to be a long shot.

LB Tyrell Robinson (San Diego/Lincoln)

Signed with: Oregon

The other half of the package deal, Tyrell played briefly in reserve for the Ducks as a freshman.

LB Keishawn Bierria (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne)

Signed with: Washington

Bierria received plenty of attention from USC but never an offer.

ATH Johnny Stanton (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic)

Signed with: Nebraska

A physical specimen with off-the-charts athletic talents as a dual-threat quarterback, Stanton was a unique talent for whom USC just didn’t have room.

Class of 2012

WR Jaydon Mickens (Los Angeles/Dorsey)

Signed with: Washington

A former USC commit, Mickens has racked up 85 receptions over the past two seasons at UW.

ATH Derrick Woods (Inglewood, Calif./Inglewood)

Signed with: Oklahoma

Woods was offered by USC early, but both sides lost interest over time.

RB Kelvin York (Fullerton, Calif./Fullerton College)

Signed with: Utah

Once thought to be a key piece of USC’s Class of 2012, York suffered a knee injury during his final season at Fullerton College and he eventually signed with the Utes.

RB/LB Ryan McDaniel (Torrance, Calif./North)

Signed with: Washington

McDaniel was primarily pursued as a linebacker by USC, but he opted for Washington where he’s now a running back.

WR Jordan Payton (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian)

Signed with: UCLA

Payton was the first member of the Class of 2012 to commit to the Trojans, but he now lines up for the Bruins.

WR Bryce Treggs (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco)

Signed with: California

USC got involved with Treggs in the later stages of his recruitment, but as more of a backup option. He led Cal with 77 grabs in 2013.

DL/RB Christian Powell (Upland, Calif./Upland)

Signed with: Colorado

The Trojans showed some legitimate interest in Powell as a defensive lineman, but he landed at Colorado where he has found success as a running back.

CB Ishmael Adams (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian)

Signed with: UCLA

The Trojans made Kevon Seymour their top priority early and chose to wait and evaluate others such as Adams.

OL Erik Magnuson (Carlsbad, Calif./La Costa Canyon)

Signed with: Michigan

Magnuson showed some initial interest in USC, but by the time the Trojans came around with an offer the Wolverines had him locked up.

WR Kenny Lawler (Upland, Calif./Upland)

Signed with: California

Lawler is the typical big and athletic receiver the Trojans normally love to grab.