Jordan Parker, the 13th best cornerback in the country according to 247Sports composite rankings, came to his senses recently and decommitted from UCLA. The 4-star recruit announced his decision via twitter:
The decision to reopen the recruiting process doesn't preclude him from choosing UCLA in the future, but they're clearly no longer the favorite to land the Pittsburg High product. The news isn't exactly shocking given what he said to the LA Times at The Opening last week.
USC and Oklahoma seem to be the leaders in the clubhouse as of now with Arizona State nipping at their heels, but it's also worth noting that his cousin, Erick Dargan, was a standout senior safety at Oregon last year (he's now with the Bengals) and there seems to be interest.
But with only five scholarships remaining for 2016 and some big names still undecided, the question becomes how hard should USC push for Parker's services?
There are good reasons to push hard: he's one of the top-ranked corners in the country, he had great production as a junior (5 INTs, 10 PD), and he performed at a high level against some of the nation's best prep receivers last week at The Opening (he was a part of Team Lunarbeast who won the 7-on-7 championship).
There's really only one reason to pull back: they're almost out of scholarships and they might have better options.
The limited space has basically forced the 2016 class to operate on a first come first serve basis at this point. Throw in the fact that Bishop Amat receiver Tyler Vaughns is expected to commit in August and they're really only left with four scholarships.
The Trojans are already pursuing several high profile corners including Jack Jones, Nigel Knott, and Byron Murphy, all of whom are ranked higher than Parker. If just one of them were to commit that would leave only three spots.
Jordan Elliot, the 4-star DT out of Texas announced this week that he will officially visit USC. 4-star DTs are much more rare than 4-star CBs, so it would be a mistake not to leave the door open for him (or someone like Antwaun Jackson).
Devin Asiasi, the 4-star ATH who can play both TE and DE, is also someone the Trojans are pursuing heavily. Both spots are positions of need so that scholarship would prove mighty valuable.
And what about Oluwole Biteku? The nation's best prep pass rusher did not include USC in his top six, but given the fact that Serra has become such a vital pipeline for the Trojans, it's tough to see him completely cutting them out of consideration if they were to make a legit run at the playoff. (Note to CJ Pollard: time to do some recruiting, eh?)
Obviously there are a lot of moving parts to this and no easy decisions. You want to bring in the best talent possible, but you don't want to be renege on any scholarship offers or ask a kid to grayshirt. We wouldn't want to stoop to that level of SEC behavior.
But when you look at the depth chart, the fact remains that USC needs more quality DBs. Kevon Seymour is gone after 2015 and Adoree Jackson is likely to jump to the NFL after 2016. That leaves only three scholarship corners for 2017. Not to mention they could use some talent at the back-end where their safety play was really disappointing at times last year. A 2016 recruiting class with four or five 4-star DBs sure has a nice ring to it right about now.
They've already got commitments from CJ Pollard, who can play corner and safety, as well as athletes Trevon Sidney and Michael Pittman, both of whom are expected to see time on both sides of the ball (at 6'4" 205, Pittman is more likely to see serious time at WR, while I expect Sidney to play more corner at 5'11" 160).
So I suppose the answer comes down to the interest level of the higher ranked recruits (which is swell because 18-year old kids never change their mind). If the coaching staff feels they have a legit chance at landing two of their three top targets (Jones, Knott, Murphy), they should probably back off of Parker.
But if they think Jack Jones doesn't want to follow in the footsteps of fellow Poly products Juju Smith and Biggie Marshall, or that either Knott or Murphy want to stay closer to home (they're from Mississippi and Arizona respectively), they should give Jordan Parker the full court recruiting press and hope it leads to a commitment.