Last week, USC received a key commitment from defensive lineman Terrance Lang. Listed as a three-star prospect according to the 247 Sports composite rankings, Lang is another player who qualifies as a “diamond in the rough” type recruit. Long considered a USC lean, Lang’s commitment is certainly good news for the Trojans as the march to signing day continues.
Listed at 6’5” 278 lbs., Lang’s tremendous physical potential was the primary reason behind USC’s staff being so high on the Pasadena, California product. A former basketball player, Lang only just started playing football in his latter high school years. As a result, he is still very raw in terms of technique and will likely need at least a redshirt season before contributing. If he is able to crack his outstanding potential though, the Trojans could be looking at a dominant defensive lineman.
Playing for Marantha High School in Pasadena, Lang has not faced top level competition in Southern California. Transitioning from low level high school football to the Pac-12 will only steepen Lang’s learning curve. That being said, the Trojans’ staff was very high on Lang due to his performances in various recruiting camps. He may not be the immediate contributor USC needs along the defensive line, but he could easily challenge for a starting spot down the road.
Lang is basically the ultimate wild card type player. His size and athleticism really jump out at you, but his lack of refinement could seriously impact his performance in cardinal and gold. Lang has the physical traits to be successful, but defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze will need to spend a lot of time with him on the practice field before he is ready to see the field.
Lang’s tape is very limited which prevents fans from really seeing what the staff likes about him. He appears to be very athletic and active in opposing backfields, but there are also moments where he does not get much of a push against much smaller offensive lineman. Inconsistency is to be expected from a player in Lang’s situation, but if he is being pushed off the line by players 20-30 pounds lighter, he will be in serious trouble against lineman that are 20-30 pounds heavier. Lang needs to ensure that he keeps his pad level down so that he can use his size and strength to push offensive lineman backwards.
Lang’s most impressive yet underrated aspect is the length of his arms. This trait should allow him to generate a quick punch right off the snap that can help make up for his raw technique. His hand usage still needs work, but if he can use his long arms to his advantage, he could become a solid player in the running game early in his career.
Looking ahead, Lang’s playing time probably will not come until at least his third year in the program. USC is believed to be recruiting Lang as a five-technique lineman to play a role similar to that of Malik Dorton. As a redshirt sophomore who has not yet seen the field much as a Trojan, Dorton is expected to stay in the program for the final two years of his eligibility. Plus, Connor Murphy, Liam Jimmons, and Christian Rector are all in the mix at that spot who will have at least three more years of eligibility after this season. Therefore, it is difficult to envision Lang getting much playing time through at least his first two years.
Although it may be difficult for a talented young player to deal with, the lack of immediate playing time Lang is certainly a good thing for his career. The Trojans do need help on the defensive line in 2017, but throwing Lang into the fire too early would be a huge mistake. The talented prospect has tremendous potential and damaging his confidence by playing snaps where he is easily outmatched could hinder his development. The best decision would be to allow Lang time to hone his skills as a defensive lineman before eventually giving him playing time as a redshirt sophomore or even junior.
Being that Lang only just started playing football in the recent past, there is a good chance that he is never able to become a viable contributor at SC. On the other hand, his huge upside gives him a legitimate chance to become a first round draft pick if he begins to scratch the surface of his potential. In essence, Lang is the ultimate wild card recruit: he could easily be a bust, but his tremendous potential is simply too much to overlook.