Southern Cal had one of the best recruiting cycles of any team in the Pac-12 with a lot of the talent landing on campus this spring as early enrollees. The Trojans have a host of players that will become leaders in the future and five standouts that are class headliners.
The Trojans only brought in 12 players in this class, but the small group still finished as the No. 14 ranked group according to the 247Sports Sports Composite Team Rankings.
There is the opportunity for a number of these players to walk in and earn playing time this fall. Others may need a few years to hit their stride. Regardless of when they breakout, these five have the greatest potential to become all-stars for the Trojans in the next four years.
Kenny Bigelow is the most athletic defensive lineman pound-for-pound in the 2013 recruiting class. He is a defensive tackle by trade, but has the ability and quickness to bounce around the front of the defensive line and may even play some downs standing up.
He overpowers his competition in high school and will need to improve his pass-rush technique, but he still can be an immediate impact guy along the defensive line.
At 6’3”, 297 pounds he is already a sizable defender. He is very explosive and has great ball track in traffic. He rarely allows himself to become bogged down upfront, as he is always moving his feet and working his hands at the point of contact.
Bigelow has a huge upside and will be a staple in the Trojans defense for the next few years.
The 247Sports Composite Rankings list Bigelow as the No. 2 defensive tackle, and the No. 9 overall player in the country.
The Trojans lost a major defensive leader this winter with the graduation of safety Tray Matthews. The good news is the fall off won’t be that dramatic, as the Trojans had Su’a Cravens enrolled in classes this spring.
Cravens is a ball hawk that played a number of positions in high school. Safety is his most natural position in college, and his ability to play solid zone coverage and close on the football will make him an early impact type player.
He is a solid tackler in space, and should be an upgrade in coverage skills from Matthews.
This is a player that has enough skills to float around the defense and create havoc all over the field. He will blitz often, and will be a player that instills fear across the middle of the Trojans defense.
According to the 247Sports Composite Rankings Cravens is the No. 1 safety and the No. 5 overall player in the country.
Max Browne is an elite passer with a live arm and solid pocket presence. He is a very selective passer, and will be firmly embedded in the quarterback competition that will begin this spring.
Last year finished with star quarterback Matt Barkley falling to injury, and redshirt freshman Max Wittek taking over the position. His performances left a lot to be desired, and that opened the door for Browne this spring.
Browne has all the intangibles to be a freshman starter for the Trojans. This program has relied on freshmen before, and it may happen again this fall.
There is not going to be many yards that are gained on the ground for Browne, but he is quick and elusive in the pocket and has a great awareness for a young player. He will need to continue to add weight to his frame, but the future is very bright for the Trojans offense with Browne at the helm.
The Trojans landed the No. 1 pro-style quarterback and No. 11 overall player in the country when they pulled Browne to L.A. this spring.
Ty Isaac is one of the hidden gems in this USC class. He has the size of a linebacker but runs like a running back. For that reason, he will stay in the backfield once he lands in Los Angeles.
The Lane Kiffin offense needs this type of one-cut runner to balance the play-action based scheme. Isaac is a downhill runner that easily fits the every-down back role.
There is not a lot of quickness in his game in the open field, but his size allows for Isaac to break through most arm tackles, and even when head-to-head battles with some defenders. Isaac will walk over undersized defensive backs.
The ability to make plays in the passing game from the backfield is another huge plus for Isaac, and should help him become an early role player for the Trojans offense.
Isaac is rated as the No. 3 all-purpose back and the No. 55 overall player in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.
Khaliel Rodgers, No. 55; Kenny Bigelow No. 98
Khaliel Rodgers is one of the more impressive interior offensive line prospects in the 2013 class. Rodgers was a huge get for the Trojans program, and a player that could come in and play as early as this fall.
Rodgers is a very powerful lineman that relies on his upper body to win battles often. At the collegiate level he will have to play lower than he has in the past, but he still will be the most powerful player in a one-on-one situation on most occasions.
A redshirt year would benefit him as he transitions out of a lot of bad habits that allowed his raw talent to overtake high school competition.
Look for Rodgers to be the leader of the offensive line in the future. It may be a year or two before his impact is felt, but Rodgers has the ability to be a long-term solution for Southern Cal along the interior of the offensive line.
He could play either guard or center for the Trojans.
Rodgers is listed as the No. 3 center and the No. 129 overall player in the country, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings.