Over the past two weeks, USC has seen multiple de-commitments from prospects that had long been pledged to the Trojans. Daniel Green, James Lynch, and Wylan Free all appear to have ended their interest in SC, dropping the Trojans’ recruiting class to 16 in the 247 Sports rankings. Many USC fans may be confused as to why the team is losing a number of commitments after such a stellar season, but those who are concerned need to be patient as the Trojans are primed for another big finish in recruiting.
The one thing Green, Lynch, and Free all have in common is that each were considered to be "diamond in the rough" type prospects. Each player was a mid-tier 3-star prospect with interesting measurables and potentially impactful upside, but none had the ability to contribute on the field for at least a year or two. Of the three, Green was perhaps the most touted prospect as the 20th best ILB in the nation according to 247 Sports, but his rating as a high three star with an 88 rating (90 is a four star) illustrates his limitations. At 6’3" 230 lbs., Green has the physical upside to be a quality college player, but he does not have the profile of a typical USC recruit. Ultimately, similar can be said of Lynch and Free as all three players will likely end up at schools such as Arizona (Green), TCU (Lynch), or Boise State (Free).
As is the case in recruiting, the Trojans simply moved on to bigger and better players. Those three were all recruited earlier in the process when USC was struggling and optimism around the program was incredibly low. Now that the Trojans have won 8 straight and garnered a place in the Rose Bowl, interest from some of the best high school prospects in the nation is rising. Clay Helton and the rest of USC’s staff had no choice but to shift their interest from these project-type players to higher touted prospects that can make an immediate impact in the Coliseum.
Another issue limiting the number of players USC could realistically take in the 2017 class is the scholarship numbers. There are only 14 seniors on the roster, 12 of which are on scholarship. When including those who will either leave early for the draft or leave the program entirely in the coming weeks, the chances are low that USC ends up having more than 21-23 available scholarships. With the class currently sitting at 14 commitments, this limits the additional number of players that USC can add to the class barring any further de-commitments. This will only add to the coaches’ desire to hit a "home run" leading up to National Signing Day by chasing only the best recruits on the board.
Being only mid-December, a lot can still change, but the Trojans look to be positioning themselves well with a number of top recruits. Led by ace recruiter Tee Martin, USC looks to have positioned themselves well with players such as Bubba Bolden, Austin Jackson, Deommodore Lenoir, and Greg Johnson. Plus, top out-of-state players like Aubrey Solomon, Jay Tufele, and Levi Jones have increased their interest in the Trojans over the past few weeks. If USC can land the former group of four plus two to three of their top out of state targets, SC could easily finish with a top seven recruiting class.
As has become the norm over the past few recruiting cycles, all signs are pointing towards a big finish to the 2017 class. Last year, USC was able to grab a number of surprising players such as Jamel Cook, Keyshawn Young, and E.J. Price. With eight straight wins and significant momentum, the Trojans could finish even stronger over the next six weeks. Although the commitments may not arrive quickly with the dead period arriving in the near future, come National Signing Day, expect USC to have made serious inroads towards a top seven recruiting class.