This past weekend wasn’t what USC had in mind, as the Trojans lost their matchup versus bitter crosstown rival UCLA 38-20. However, before the loss to the Bruins on the field came a defeat to the folks in Westwood on the recruiting trail.
After a fierce recruiting battle, stud defensive end/outside linebacker Keisean Lucier-South of Orange Lutheran in California decided to commit to UCLA over USC. The talented 6’6", 220-pound pass-rusher was such a big target for the Trojans that head coach Steve Sarkisian personally evaluated him live and in-person during this recruiting cycle.
November 23, 2014
Per Rivals.com, the Trojans were among a final group that also consisted of Florida, Oklahoma, Michigan and Oregon. Yet it was the Bruins who won the services of one of the nation’s top pass-rushing prospects, as they have been believed to be in control of this recruitment for quite sometime.
Keisean Lucier-South is viewed by all four major recruiting services as a top-tier prospect. He’s a five-star defensive end who is 23rd in the 247Sports Composite Rankings and No. 29 in the ESPN 300. Rivals ranks him 30th nationally and rates him as a five-star recruit, while Scout has him 32nd on its board and also as a five-star talent.
The Trojans surely could have used a player of Lucier-South’s talent almost immediately. While the young edge-defender does need to improve his functional strength and ability to set the edge versus running plays, he has the ideal first-step quickness and length -- something that bothered the Trojans throughout Saturday's game -- to make an early impact as a pass-rusher. He also has the versatility to play both with his hand in the dirt and standing up.
USC defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox could have devised many different types of pressures, schemes and stunts with Keisean Lucier-South in the fold, along with just letting him shoot upfield off the edge as a classic pass rusher. However, the Trojans will now have defend against him when they play the team across town.
Look for him to eventually become a similar player to former UCLA defensive end/linebacker and current Minnesota Vikings rookie star Anthony Barr.
The Trojans do boast current pledges from defensive ends Noah Jefferson and Christian Rector, but losing a talent like Lucier-South to UCLA surely stings.