Lane Kiffin's coaching bona fides have been questioned, with good reason, throughout his career. But there's one thing no one can deny he's capable of doing at an elite level: recruiting.
As of today, both Rivals.com and ESPN.com rank the Trojans' incoming class second in the nation, which should provide a much-needed infusion after a wildly disappointing season in Southern California
Although the incoming class is lauded, in large part, thanks to its extraordinary depth, there are a number of blue-chippers atop the rankings who really set it apart.
Here are three guys who could make an immediate impact next season:
QB Max Browne
The Gatorade National Player of the Year made it official last week, signing on to become a member of the USC Trojans.
The question now becomes an obvious one: When does he become the starter?
See, Max Wittek isn't exactly a slouch under center. Rivals ranked him the 76th-best player in the 2011 recruiting class, and the third-best pro-style quarterback—trailing just teammate Cody Kessler and Florida's Jeff Driskel in that category.
But Browne, the fourth overall recruit in Rivals' 2013 rankings, is in a different league. How much different? Perhaps a USC comparison is most apt: Wittek is John David Booty; Browne is Carson Palmer.
Next year will be 2013 A.D., but it'll only be year one A.M.—after Manziel. Johnny Football's magical run to the Heisman has drastically altered the landscape of college football, and will shorten the learning curve of many incoming freshman signal callers.
Wittek won't be happy about it, but it'll be hard to keep Browne off the field next season.
S Su'a Craven
The Trojans didn't just land Rivals' top-rated offensive player; they snagged Rivals' top-rated secondary player, too.
In Craven, USC gets a masterful blend of size, speed, physicality and talent. He's also capable of playing running back, but it appears his future will be, rightfully, at safety—a place where his rare physical tools can be fully fleshed out.
In a four-week span this year, the Trojans' defense allowed 39 points to Arizona, 62 points to Oregon and 38 points to UCLA. Unsurprisingly, they lost all three of those football games.
With Craven patrolling the back end and stuffing tailbacks on the second level, there's a slim chance USC's defense gets similarly torched next season.
DT Kenny Bigelow
The rich get richer, huh?
Bigelow, a product of Elkton, Maryland, will voyage across the country to don the maroon and gold next season. And he'll do so as Rivals' top-rated defensive tackle prospect in the country.
The Trojans already have a batch of highly-recruited, duly-experienced linemen in the trenches, so Bigelow's presence is far from necessary. But if there's a defense that can't use the services of a versatile, high-motor 300-pounder, I haven't seen it yet.
Even if he only starts the year as a rotation player, Bigelow could develop into one of USC's most indomitable defensive players. He won't make a major impact right off the bat, but he'll be counted on to make at least a minor one.