USC Recruiting: 6 Recruits Every Trojan Fan Should Be Following This Summer
As the Trojans catch their breath after a sometimes grueling spring practice session, attention turns to the lifeblood of college football, that being recruiting.
And although for some college football recruiting is just an amusing way to pass time while waiting for the games to start, others will tell you it is a study unto itself. So it would seem given the abundance of websites with articles dedicated to all things college football recruiting.
Here is another.
However, this slideshow will depart a bit from what might be expected in terms of those precocious youngsters coveted most by the men of Troy.
After all, everyone who follows the Trojans closely knows that USC is in the game for mega-recruits such as cornerback Iman Marshall, linebacker John Houston and defensive end Rasheem Green, among many others. Great players to be sure but guys who are extensively covered in the media already.
Instead, this piece will look at the next tier of Trojan prospects—players USC has offered but who are not quite considered to be "5-star" guys by the so-called experts.
Nonetheless, great teams are built on the backs of these prospects and while they may not have quite ascended into the rarefied air of "elite status," they aren't too far behind.
And here are six of these guys you should keep your eye on this summer...
Porter Gustin (Linebacker)
USC will need to sign linebackers in 2015 and one to keep your eye on is Salem Hills (Utah) 'backer Porter Gustin.
Gustin is a solid 6'5", 237-pound beast who is a relentless ball hawk. His stock has shot up over the last year in the eyes of those who know about him.
Rated a 4-star prospect by Scout.com, Gustin will likely fill out even more at the next level, but that will suit the athletic Gustin even more as he would probably wind up at the hybrid "rush end" position in schemes that defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox prefers to run.
Now approaching close to 30 offers, Gustin has already professed an affinity for USC telling Scout.com's Brandon Huffman (subscription required), "I really, really liked USC. We didn’t initially plan on going down there, but they gave my coach a call and asked me to come by. I was really happy I was able to go down and see it. It has a great campus vibe."
Gustin went on, "That’s a really big offer. I’ve always liked them growing up and always considered them a top dog."
The Trojans would do very well to sign Gustin and you can bet that the recruiting staff will be on this guy to the very end.
Equanimeous St. Brown (Wide Receiver)
C'mon, how can you go wrong signing a guy with the name "Equanimeous?"
Awesome moniker aside, a better question would be how could you not sign a 6'5", 205-pound wide receiver who glides like a gazelle and possesses some of the softest hands in the west?
Such are the talents of Equanimeous St. Brown, the Scout.com 4-star prospect from Servite High School in Anaheim, Calif.
The Trojans need a big possession receiver and St. Brown is one of the best in the nation.
Though holding 20 offers from some of the best programs in the nation, St. Brown has already narrowed his list down to four and the Trojans made the cut.
In an interview with Scout.com's Lindsey Thiry (subscription required), St. Brown explained, “I talk with Tee Martin the receivers coach. I like USC because they have a lot of connections in SoCal, education, and they send a lot of guys to the NFL."
If the Trojans can land St. Brown, it will go a long way toward addressing a glaring need in the pass-catching corps.
Damien Harris (Running Back)
Running backs coach Johnny Nansen has a problem.
After not picking up a running back last year, USC needs to snag at least one in the 2015 class and therein lies the problem...this class is very light on talented ball-carriers, especially on the West Coast.
In fact, the Trojans have only given offers to two uncommitted running backs in the Rivals.com top 100 and one of those, Damien Harris is the subject of this slide.
Rated the No. 1 running back prospect in the nation by Scout.com, Harris is an elusive, yet powerful runner whose 40-time is somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.4 according to the recruiting service.
Harris currently holds 20 offers from premier programs such as Alabama, Ohio State, Oklahoma and the likely front-runner, Michigan.
However, Harris cut his list down to 10 and according to Rivals.com, his interest is "medium" in all 10, including the Trojans.
Still, it will be an uphill climb for USC to get this upper echelon running back in a year when there are very few of those.
Osa Masina (Linebacker)
As mentioned before, USC will need to secure a signature from some linebackers in this class and one the Trojans have their sights set on is Scout.com 4-star prospect Osa Masina.
Masina, who plays ball at Bright City (Utah) High School, is a fabulously talented athlete who could probably contribute at a number of spots but is especially suited to track down the ball-carriers who have the temerity to venture into his vicinity.
At 6'4", 205 pounds, Masina has the frame to add bulk and his athleticism is off the charts.
Currently holding almost 20 offers from a variety of high profile programs, Masina recently trimmed that list to eight potential suitors. After he recently visited USC, the Trojans are included in that list.
While making Masina's cut should be looked at as a very good thing for those who follow the Trojans, it should be noted that two of his brothers play at Utah, a program that also made his cut.
Cameron Smith (Linebacker)
There was a time when it appeared inevitable that Granite Bay (Calif.) linebacker Cameron Smith would don the Cardinal and Gold for the Trojans.
In fact, as Smith himself would tell Scout.com's Greg Biggins (subscription required), "USC is the school I’ve always rooted for. When Sark pulled me aside at the end of the day and told me he was offering me, I was overwhelmed. I’m not going to lie, I almost committed on the spot."
But he didn't and now the battle for the big (6'2", 247 pounds) 'backer will likely go down to the wire.
With more than a dozen suitors beckoning Smith, USC will have to stay on top of him to ensure what seemed so likely not so long ago.
Jacob Daniel (Defensive Tackle)
Another area in need of replenishing in the 2015 class is the defensive line, particularly the interior. The surest thing the Trojans have going in terms of a verbal pledge is big Jacob Daniel from Clovis North High School in Fresno, Calif.
Daniel is a massive man at 6'4", 310 pounds and his athleticism sets him apart from most guys his size.
The good news for Trojan fans is that Daniel already committed once to Steve Sarkisian when Sark was at Washington and apparently, those good feelings have carried over to the staff's arrival at USC.
As Daniel explained to Scout.com's Brandon Huffman, he is very familiar with USC's staff: "There is so much comfort with USC,” said Daniel. “As soon as I went there, I knew everybody. Then me and Coach (Chris) Wilson got real close. I really like Coach (Justin) Wilcox and his defensive scheme and he’s a real cool guy as well.”
Daniel currently holds almost 30 offers and although some of the best programs in the nation have sent offers to big Jacob, it looks like the Trojans are in the driver's seat for his services.
Certainly, there are many other prospects on the Trojans' radar other than the players profiled here and to be certain, there will be a lot of movement on the Trojans' recruiting "big board" before the February date to sign letters of intent rolls around.
But barring some extreme unforeseen circumstances, the six players profiled here will remain on the Trojans' radar until they either sign their names on the dotted line for USC or go elsewhere.
Of course, it would be unrealistic for Sark and his recruiting staff to hope they can sign all six of the players in this slideshow, but you can best believe that it would make the coaches' day if they could do so.
In the meantime, Trojan fans should hope for three or so of these six and keep their fingers crossed for more.
And who knows? If USC does some big things in 2014, maybe it can pull off a sweep of highly regarded recruits a la Alabama of late.
And wouldn't that please Sark and company?
I won't even tell you how happy that would make the fans...even the ones who follow recruiting just to pass the time until the games start.
Follow me on Twitter: @RickMcMahan
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