Update: Jason Hatcher has reportedly committed to USC, per Michael Castillo of reignoftroy.com.
The USC Trojans have lost yet another very important recruit from their 2013 class.
Four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher is the latest recruit to decommit from USC and re-open the recruiting process. This is now officially becoming a trend for Lane Kiffin and USC in 2013, and it's a trend that does not make the Trojans look even remotely strong on the recruiting trail.
Hatcher took to his Twitter account to announce his decommitment:
I official de-committed from USC #WideOpen— Jason A. Hatcher II (@ROCK_NATION_6) January 23, 2013
There's really no positive way to spin this for USC. Hatcher was a big-time commitment and he projects to be a very good player at the college level. He's 6'2'', 240 pounds and runs a 4.70 40 according to 247Sports.
As a weak-side defensive end, he has enough size to control the edge and maintain his gap responsibility against the run, but he's also more than fast enough to be an effective pass-rusher. He has the potential to be very good, and the rankings back that statement up. Hatcher is the No. 5 weak-side defensive end in the country according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.
Momentum is huge in college football recruiting, and as it stands, the Trojans have been trending in the wrong direction. USC may actually be adding up negative momentum at this point.
With just a few weeks left before national signing day (Feb. 6), Kiffin and the Trojans need to do everything they can to turn this class around and finish on a strong note. The good news is, the recruits USC does have committed are extremely good and look to have superstar potential. The bad news is, this negative momentum could threaten to shake up some of those commitments. (See: this article on 5-star cornerback recruit and Trojans' commitment Jalen Ramsey).
How will USC recover from this recruiting loss?
Recruiting wins are a must at this point, so the Trojans need to focus on landing a few more big commitments.
The main target now for USC has to be 4-star outside linebacker Quinton Powell. He just recently named USC as one of his top two teams (Florida being the other), and he's coming off a recent official visit with the Trojans. The momentum is clearly in USC's favor in Powell's case.
The Trojans are also still in the running with former commitments 5-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes and 4-star defensive end Kylie Fitts—although I wouldn't count on getting either of them back. Alabama is making a strong push for Vanderdoes and Fitts' decommitment seemed to really paint USC in a negative light.
Finally, there's 5-star outside linebacker Matthew Thomas who just took an official visit to USC, but it appears as if Florida State and Miami are the leaders for his commitment (according to his 247sports interest list).
On paper, Powell is the most realistic options for USC, so much of the recruiting focus should be placed on bringing him in. That's not to say that USC can't make a strong final push for Vanderdoes, Fitts or Thomas though—so there is still time to turn this around.
Landing Powell is a must for USC, and then hopefully the Trojans can mend things with either Vanderdoes or Fitts. There's also the possibility that USC could pull of an upset with Thomas.
Turning this class around is the only thing USC can do. The Trojans do have some very impressive commitments, but a few 5-stars will not make or sustain a great program.
Kiffin needs to round this class out with a few big-time commitments. That's the only option he has if his 2013 class is to recover from this abysmal stretch on the recruiting trail.