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Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Scouts' take: USC gets OG from Bama

By Craig Haubert

The USC Trojans have picked up a lot of steam on the field under interim coach Ed Oregon, including last weekend's upset of No. 4 Stanford. Now, that momentum has carried over to the recruiting Trail as USC flipped ESPN 300 guard, and Alabama commit, Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial). Read on see our scouts' take on the news:

What he brings: Talamaivao is not a towering lineman, but he is a strong wide-body with some nastiness. The powerful big man can make some improvements in areas physically and technically, but has the tools to be very effective as both a run and pass blocker. In the ground game, he can jar defenders initially with the ability to drive his knees and to sustain and create push off the ball. In pass pro, he can quickly stab-and-grab and lock out, displays above average balance and can mirror rushers once locked on.

How he fits: Talamaivao is a strong and nasty OG prospect that can pass protect well and with further development, has the tools to fit in the trenches for USC, pretty much regardless of what direction their offense takes in the near future. As a run blocker, he is at his best in a physical downhill run game where he can come off the ball, overpower and drive defenders back. He also demonstrates good enough lateral quickness and balance to develop into an effective zone blocker as well.

Prediction for performance: Much about the Trojans’ future will be determined by their next head coach. Whether they elevate interim head coach Ed Orgeron or bring in someone new, Talamaivao should be a welcome addition. Depending on how things play out, the Trojans could lose as many as five linemen from their two-deep. The need to bolster their OL depth is represented in their 2014 class, as the ESPN 300 OG is now USC’s fourth OL commit. Along with guard Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), Talamaivao gives the Trojans two very good options for the interior of their line. We could see Lobendahn likely developing at center, but in the mold of current USC C Marcus Martin, Talamaivao could potentially develop in that role as well. If Max Tuerk moves out to RT to replace senior starter Kevin Graf, a need could arise immediately at OG that Talamaivao could fill. If not, we definitely see both him and Lobendahn immediately being a part of USC’s two-deep. In the long run, Talamaivao displays the tools to develop into a good multi-year starter for the Trojans.

How the class is shaping up: For a program that had long been a fixture among the top teams on the recruiting trail, USC is not among the top 40 and is in the middle of the pack of the Pac-12 conference ranks. That ranking might not be what USC fans are accustomed to, and while small, this is still a very solid class. The class might not be a big one, but landing Talamaivao is a big boost for the Trojans. The former Alabama commit, had made it clear early in the process that he planned to go out of state and that seemed to be the case for a while, but being able to land the top-five OG prospect and keep him in-state despite not having named a permanent head coach is big for USC. It’s also a potential sign that the Trojans could very well be a team to watch over the next two months leading up to signing day.