USC Football Recruiting: 10 Best Trojan Recruits from BCS Era
To start, this list was awfully tough to put together. Production was a factor, but a bigger emphasis was put on how good a player was as a recruit.
USC has signed a large amount of the best recruits of the BCS era, which essentially began in January of 1999.
Former head coach Pete Carroll is responsible for many recruits on this list, as he will go down as one of the best recruiting head coaches college football has ever seen. The Trojans are known for their ability to pull top talent from anywhere in the country, and this list is more proof of that.
USC signed an elite defensive lineman in 2001, the same year it signed a quarterback who went on to win a Heisman. Plus, an offensive tackle signed in 2008 is also on this list.
Robert Woods, WR
Robert Woods was a local prospect for USC, as he starred at nearby Serra High School in Los Angeles. A 5-star receiver in 2010, Woods was a smart and fairly polished prospect who made an immediate impact in Troy.
His smooth athleticism, quickness and good speed were used to make plays in the Trojans passing game. Woods finished with 252 career receptions for 2,930 yards and 32 touchdowns.
The 2011 All-American also returned 55 kicks for 1,364 yards and a touchdown. Woods, who currently plays for the Buffalo Bills, is arguably the best receiver in school history.
Matt Barkley, QB
The headliner of USC's 2009 class with was Matt Barkley, without question. From Mater Dei High School in California, Barkley had been on the national recruiting radar since starting as a freshman for the Monarchs.
He had a lot of hype coming out of high school, and many lists rated him as the No. 1 quarterback in the nation.
Barkley went on to start as a true freshman at USC, where he became a superstar for the Trojans. He completed more than 1,000 passes in his Trojan career, finishing with 12,327 yards and 116 touchdowns.
Today, Barkley is with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Per Greg Biggins—formerly of Rivals.com (subscription required)—Barkley said the following in January 2008:
I chose USC because I simply love the football program and because of the great education I will receive. There is a incredible tradition of competition, excellence, enthusiasm and winning that I am excited to be a part of. I have the greatest respect for Coach Carroll, Coach Sarkisian and the entire coaching staff and what they have accomplished. I look forward to playing football for them.
Matt Kalil, LT
Some may be surprised to see Matt Kalil on this list, but he definitely is one of the best recruits USC signed during the BCS era.
Kalil is one of the best offensive line prospects in the history of modern recruiting. He was 6'7" and more than 280 pounds in high school, and used a combination of length, good technique and agility to shadow defensive linemen as a left tackle.
It was obvious here when Kalil was evaluated in high school that he would play in the NFL. The Minnesota Vikings drafted him in the first round of the 2012 NFL draft.
Brian Cushing, LB
Among the hyped recruits in the 2005 class for USC was linebacker Brian Cushing. From New Jersey, Cushing had a unique and versatile skill set coming out as a recruit.
He could play just about every linebacker position in either a 3-4 or 4-3, plus he was a good athlete who played with a terrific motor and instincts. After he put it all together at USC, Cushing was selected 15th overall in the 2009 NFL draft by the Houston Texans.
Honorable mention: Keith Rivers
Rey Maualuga, LB
During the middle of the 2000s, perhaps the most feared player on USC's defense was linebacker Rey Maualuga. From Eureka High School in California, Maualuga was a sizzling combination of size, strength, speed, athleticism and big-hitting ability.
There have not been many linebacker recruits since 2005 who could move like Maualuga did as a recruit. He finished his career with 273 tackles. In 2008, the talented linebacker won the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year, the Chuck Bednarik Award and was an All-American.
John David Booty, QB
As a recruit, John David Booty was an outstanding and exceptional prospect. He had great arm strength, plus he threw with terrific accuracy. He had a ton of hype surrounding him in high school, as many observers were in awe of his talent and skill set.
He is credited as a member of the 2003 recruiting class by USC, as he left Evangel Christian Academy in Louisiana with a year of eligibility remaining. Booty started for USC as a junior and finished his career with 6,125 yards and 55 touchdowns.
LenDale White, RB
LenDale White was a fantastic running back prospect who had a combination of size, strength and deceptively nimble feet. He arrived in Troy from Colorado in 2003 and made an immediate impact.
White stood between 6'1" and 6'2", while weighing likely more than 230 pounds in high school. He went on to rush for 3,159 yards and 52 touchdowns at USC, where he is generally viewed as one of program's best running backs in history.
Reggie Bush, RB
Reggie Bush was a rare athlete who was a dominant recruit in high school. From the San Diego area, Bush's exceptional speed, explosiveness, quickness, instincts and agility made him one of the best prospects of all time.
Bush went on to become must-see TV as a Trojan. He won the Heisman in 2005 and was an All-American in 2004 and 2005. Bush rushed for 3,169 yards and 25 touchdowns in his career, while catching another 95 passes for 1,301 yards and 13 touchdowns.
He returned 67 kicks for 1,522 yards and a score, plus Bush returned 44 punts for 559 yards and three touchdowns. The New Orleans Saints took Bush with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, and he currently plays for the Detroit Lions.
Shaun Cody, DL
Perhaps the recruit that re-established USC as a recruiting power was defensive lineman Shaun Cody. Practically every school in America wanted him, and there wasn't any All-American list that was complete without him on it.
From Los Altos High School in California, Cody made offensive linemen look like Pop Warner players as a prep prospect.
He simply dominated games as a defensive end due to exceptional quickness, power, athleticism and range. Cody moved to defensive tackle when he arrived at USC and became a cornerstone player for head coach Pete Carroll.
He was a second-round pick by the Detroit Lions in 2005.
Matt Leinart, QB
The 2001 class USC signed also featured a quarterback named Matt Leinart. A lefty, Leinart made a name for himself at Mater Dei High School in California.
He stood around 6'5", plus he had great accuracy, awareness and instincts. Leinart was a rare quarterback prospect whom the game slowed down for, which helped him make great decisions with the football.
He won the Heisman in 2004, and finished his career with 10,693 yards and 99 touchdowns. Some of the Trojans' most memorable modern moments are thanks to Leinart.
Honorable mention: Mark Sanchez
All stats are from Sports-Reference.com.
Edwin Weathersby is the College Football Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. He has worked in scouting/player personnel departments for three professional football teams, including the New York Giants and Cleveland Browns.