USC officially welcomed three highly-touted prospects as the first members of its 2016 recruiting class on Thursday. Coach Sarkisian announced on Twitter that OLB Daelin Hayes (Skyline, MI), OT Nathan Smith (Murrieta Mesa, CA), and S CJ Pollard (Serra, CA) have all signed their financial-aid agreement, paving their way to enroll early at USC in January 2016.
According to 247 Sports, all three players are composite 4-star recruits.
This is not the same thing as an official letter of intent. The agreement isn't binding for the player (it is binding for the school however), but it does two things – 1) it allows the three players to enroll in classes in January 2016 if they qualify and 2) it also allows Sark and his staff to have unlimited communication with the three players from now until they enroll. That gives the Trojans a huge recruiting edge over the next few months.
While it may not be binding, the signing of financial-aid paperwork is a great sign, especially for Hayes. He has always been solid since he committed in 2014, but there have been whispers in recent weeks that he was starting to open up to Notre Dame. Given their current crop of freshmen, the Trojans can set themselves up to have one of the best LB units in all of college football for the next few years if they can hold on to Hayes and current LB commit Mique Juarez.
With 5 blueshirts from the fall and 3 early enrollees, USC now has 17 spots remaining in their 2016 recruiting class.