Bumped - P
The U.S.C. Trojans are building a defense that they could be very proud of.
This season, both leading tacklers were freshmen linebackers, Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard. It was also the emergence of true freshman linebacker Lamar Dawson, who took over for Chris Galippo during the season.
It seems as though the Trojans are continuing that trend and looking to build off of their defenses recent success. They have two players contemplating entering the NFL Draft and a few seniors that they'll lose, but they're working hard to quickly fill the pieces that may be gone.
Of the players they could potentially lose, safety T.J. McDonald may be the hardest to replace. He's been a solid playmaker for the Trojans. Here would be the losses that may occur on the defensive side of the ball before next season:
T.J. McDonald, Safety
Nick Perry, Defensive Lineman
These would be some pretty big losses, but the Trojans are already working hard to fill the holes that these players leaving would create. It all starts on their own roster. There is still a chance that Nick Perry returns as well, making this a very strong rotation.
For the safety position, it's a big difference if T.J. McDonald decides to return for his senior season. If not, the group will be anchored by Jawanza Starling, Drew McAllister and Demetrius Wright.
That's just the talent that is currently on the roster. The Trojans still have to continue through the motions of recruiting, something they need to do very well with only 15 scholarships to offer.
The Trojans are hoping to get about 5 or 6 early enrollees which would push the scholarship total to 20-21 for this season before it drops down to 15 in 2013. The 2012 class is already looking pretty solid for the defensive side of the ball if the current verbally committed players stick with that commitment.
Linebackers Scott Starr and Jabari Ruffin are both 4-star prospects that are strong verbals to USC. They are joined on the defensive side of the ball by soft verbal commit defensive lineman Pio Vatuvei. It also appears that 3 of the 4 targets with a high interest in the Trojans have also received offers.
Junior college 4-star safety Gerald Bowman of Pierce in Woodland Hills, California has narrowed it down to Trojans, Oklahoma Sooners and possibly the Miami Hurricanes. If the Trojans land Bowman, they are receiving a player with great size and tackling ability.
The next target is another linebacker, 3-star Brian Nance of Trinity High School in Texas. The linebacker is a quick player at a position the Trojans have proven to be fast at. Nance has high interest in the Trojans, Arkansas Razorbacks, Baylor Bears and Oklahoma Sooners. He has a scheduled visit to U.S.C. on January 20, 2012.
The big target is 5-star defensive lineman Ellis McCarthy from Monrovia High School in Monrovia, California. The 6'5", 295 lbs. monster has narrowed it down to the Trojans, Oregon Ducks and California Golden Bears. If the Trojans land McCarthy, they get a stellar player that could make a quick impact with his quickness off the snap and power.
The Trojans have also received a verbal commitment from 2013 defensive lineman star Kenny Bigelow and became the first to offer safety Max Redfield of Mission Viejo.
It appears the Trojans would like to continue their attention to creating a dominant defense and if they can continue to put the pieces into place, there's very little that can stop them. Of course, it will come down to who stays, who goes and who comes in.