USC Football Recruiting: Prospects Who Could Save Trojans' Offseason

Christopher LeoneSenior Analyst IFebruary 6, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Head Coach Lane Kiffin of the USC Trojans walks away from Max Wittek #13 and Cody Kessler #6 as they warm up before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

It's interesting that USC's best remaining prospects are defensive players because they're playing defense, so to speak, after some high-profile decommitments from the recruiting process.

Safety Jalen Ramsey and defensive ends Torrodney Prevot and Jason Hatcher all decommitted on Tuesday, with Hatcher backing out for the second time. They follow fellow defensive end Kylie Fitts, who swapped sides of the crosstown rivalry when he chose UCLA over the Trojans. Ramsey has announced that he'll join Florida State, with Prevot choosing Oregon and Hatcher looking at staying close to home in Kentucky.

All of that turmoil has coach Lane Kiffin scrambling to shore up what had been a top-flight recruiting class and improve a defense that ranked 60th in the nation in total yards per game last year. Speculation continues to center on two players: linebacker Quinton Powell and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes.

There's no doubt that Powell will be a great addition if he commits. Ranked 99th on ESPN's Top 150, he's ranked sixth among linebackers, and ESPN scouts label him as a good tackler who can provide outside run support. That being said, at 6'2", 200 pounds, he may need to bulk up to play linebacker effectively during his college career.

Powell, who visited USC on January 18, is choosing between the Trojans and Florida Gators. Landing him would be huge for a rush defense that ranked 69th in the nation.

Vanderdoes, who decommitted from USC in December, is much less certain. Taking his time with the process, right now he's leaving everybody in the dark, at least according to his family. Vanderdoes has numerous high-profile options, including Notre Dame and following Fitts to UCLA.

But if Vanderdoes, ranked 10th in ESPN's Top 150 and best among his fellow defensive tackles, chooses to recommit to the Trojans, he'll be another great addition to the running game. At 6'3" and 310 pounds, he's a strong run defender who could help USC get the 4.07 rush yards per attempt that it gave up last season down to a more reasonable level.

The amount of decommitments, as well as the caliber of the players who backed out, means that this is bound to be a frustrating recruiting season for USC. But with Powell a strong possibility and Vanderdoes' landing spot left as anyone's guess, both could head to sunny Southern California. If that's the case, it could be a lot worse for the Trojan faithful.

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