According to Lindsey Thiry of Scout.com, Ty Isaac announced his plans to transfer out of USC to be closer to home (Illinois) on Wednesday. USC's recruiting strategy for 2015 now takes a major turn.
The former 4-star running back showed glimpses of being a great addition to the Trojans' stable of running backs in 2013, but limited playing time was likely a contributing factor to his decision as well.
Ty Isaac told @ChrisPSwanson about transferring: "I really enjoyed my time at USC but it's decision that I had to make and I made it."— Conquest Chronicles (@CChroniclesSBN) May 14, 2014
With Javorius "Buck" Allen, Tre Madden, Justin Davis and D.J. Morgan ahead of him on the depth chart, Isaac would have remained in his role as a backup in 2014.
The Trojans can take the hit this season because of that quartet, but Steve Sarkisian and his staff now have to start seriously recruiting some running backs, effective immediately.
Morgan is a redshirt senior this season, and both Allen and Madden are redshirt juniors. It's possible all three don't return to Troy in 2015, and if that were to happen, that would leave Davis as the only tailback on the roster with game experience.
Realistically, either Allen or Madden elects to stay based on who receives fewer reps this coming season, but it's still really important for the Trojans to get a jump on keeping the stable loaded going forward.
Sark said during his signing-day press conference that USC will look to take two running backs in 2015, and now it's time to make good on that statement. In looking at the 247Sports.com composite for this recruiting cycle, USC was previously not pursing any running backs that aggressively.
So who should the Trojans turn their sights to now?
USC has offered and expressed interest in 5-star Damien Harris, who decommitted from Michigan in January. He's considered the No. 1 running back in his class, but for now, Harris looks to be a Big 10 lean. He's still considering Michigan as well as Ohio State, among others.
Then there's Jacques Patrick, a 4-star talent out of Florida. He's the No. 2 running back in the 2015 class, and given USC's success in recruiting in the Sunshine State, he could be a talent the Trojans start to court more heavily.
Another target USC could turn its attention to is 4-star Austin Joyner, a former commit of Sark's while he was still at Washington.
Interestingly, USC has yet to extend an offer to Joyner, but that might change in light of Isaac's transfer.
With all that said, it's worth noting that the Trojans have struggled to hold on to their running backs over the past few seasons.
As Hank Shaw of Reign of Troy points out, USC has had no trouble recruiting blue-chip running backs, but keeping them on roster is another story entirely:
Having a highly touted running back transfer away from USC isn’t anything new for the Trojans, and in fact it’s been somewhat of a trend. In recent years, Troy has lost Emmanuel Moody to Florida, Broderick Green to Arkansas and Amir Carlisle to Notre Dame. Add in the loss of Dillon Baxter and it’s remarkable how many four and five-star backs have concluded their collegiate careers elsewhere.
So when Sark does ultimately get the two tailbacks he wants for 2015, it's even more important that he can keep them on roster.
The success of Allen, Madden and Davis this season will go a long way in showing future running backs what they can expect if they commit to USC. Right now, however, Sark and his staff need to sell the targets on a grassroots effort to return USC to the days of Running Back U.
With Bishop Sankey's recent transition to the NFL after a strong career under Sark and running backs coach Johnny Nansen at Washington—who has since joined Sark at USC—it shouldn't be that hard of a sell.
Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.com.