The USC Trojans are still limited in the number of recruits they can bring aboard on national signing day, but that hasn't stopped new head coach Steve Sarkisian from bringing in as much good talent as he can.
NCAA sanctions have prevented the Trojans from signing 25 players—the normal allotment—for the past several seasons. This will be their last season under the sanction, meaning Sarkisian will have a full recruiting class to work with next season.
That being said, Sarkisian is currently dealing with a rather short window to recruit even 15 players.
Sarkisian took over the head coaching position just over two months ago. He didn't name his entire staff until after the turn of the new year. That has left him with little time to work on recruiting.
That being said, the players he has currently brought in have talent and should help the future of the program immensely. Here are the top new recruits to keep an eye on.
Jalen Greene, QB
Jalen Greene is a dual-threat quarterback out of Gardena, California that is considered the No. 9 dual-threat passer in the country by 247Sports.
His arm strength, size and accuracy are his weakest qualities, which would suggest he is best fit as an option quarterback. That being said, his pocket presence is pretty strong and his release suggests he might just need some work as a pocket passer.
Greene should succeed at USC. For one, he cites his excitement to be there (via Blair Angulo of ESPN.com):
There were other schools that were recruiting me, but I just wanted to focus on USC and Washington. Coach Sarkisian called me after he made the move and told me really wanted me. I'm excited because it's the same offense we ran in high school.
Fans of the Trojans should be excited to watch him perform at USC, especially given his success during his senior season at Junipero Serra High School. He passed for 2,544 yards and 33 touchdowns while also rushing for 1,209 yards and 14 touchdowns.
He's dynamic and just needs a little bit of work as a passer.
Toa Lobendahn, G
Toa Lobendahn is the No. 8 offensive guard in this recruiting class, according to 247Sports. He is a 6'3", 293-pound behemoth that is very agile for his size. Plus, his size allows him to excel in run-blocking.
Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times cites Lobendahn is already a candidate to step in and play right away, saying, "Lobendahn is an option to replace Marcus Martin at center."
Martin, of course, declared for the NFL draft in late-December.
Despite being listed as a guard, Lobendahn has the skill set to shift over and play center for USC if indeed that is in his future.
Lobendahn had previously shown an interest in Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Oregon and California before committing to USC. The 4-star recruit figures to play a large role with the team early on in his collegiate career, even if it isn't right from Day 1.
Damien Mama, G
Lindsey Thiry of Fox Sports reports offensive guard Damien Mama has chosen USC on national signing day:
247Sports lists Mama as the No. 38 overall prospect in the country, the top guard in the country and the No. 5 recruit in California. Mama spent his high school career keeping defensive lineman on the ground and protecting his quarterbacks—something Sarkisian is surely expecting him to do at USC.
Robert Morales of the Long Beach Press-Telegram supplies us with a small look at what Mama can bring to the table when he talked to St. John Bosco coach Jason Negro:
He mauls people, and he is a tremendous finisher. I mean, those are the two adjectives I would use in describing Damien. Everybody kind of wants to compare him to (former Brave) Nico Falah, who was a national recruit and went to USC last year.
Damien and Nico are totally different players. They’re both left tackles, but Nico was more of a finesse guy. Damien is just so physical. He mauls people.
That type of tenacity will likely translate to a successful career with the Trojans.
*All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise stated.