USC has long dominated the recruiting landscape in the West, finishing at or very near the top of the Pac-12's rankings even while serving NCAA sanctions.
With the sanctions lifted in 2015, Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff are no longer bound by the NCAA's mandated scholarship restrictions. A return to a full scholarship allotment means the sky is the limit for the 2015 signing class.
The Trojans currently lead 247Sports.com's rankings for Pac-12 teams and check in at No. 16 nationally. The foundation of eight verbal commitments is a strong start—even if rumors of quarterback David Sills de-committing come to fruition.
According to USCFootball.com analyst Gerard Martinez, the four-year pledge may be wavering:
But to maximize the class' potential, USC must finish with a flourish through the summer into signing day 2015. There are plenty of top targets on the Trojans' radar who, with their commitments, can elevate USC into the top five of the national ranking.
The commitment of cornerback Iman Marshall, another 5-star prospect, is a strong possibility. Marshall is from Southern California prep powerhouse Long Beach Poly, the same school that produced 2014 Trojans 5-star recruit John "JuJu" Smith.
An overwhelming majority of 247Sports' crystal ball panelists project Marshall to choose USC over Pac-12 counterpart Stanford—94 percent, to be exact. A third 5-star prospect would set the pace for the entire nation.
Marshall is not the only uncommitted 5-star with a heavy USC lean. All of 247Sports' crystal ball panelists tab linebacker John Houston to USC, and with good reason.
Houston plays at Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, California, one of the most lucrative recruiting pipelines USC has established. Noteworthy Trojans like Marqise Lee and Robert Woods came from there, and in 2014, Sarkisian landed three JSerra alums. Among them was 5-star cornerback and wide receiver Adoree' Jackson.
Houston is the nation's No. 3-ranked outside linebacker and a potential backfield terror. USC recruiting guru Tee Martin is leading the efforts to land Houston's commitment.
Behind Martin and defensive line coach Chris Wilson, USC is also in the mix for Houston's JSerra teammate and 5-star defensive tackle Rasheem Green.
A quintet of 5-star recruits is not a bad base for a recruiting class. On its own, that group would seemingly be enough to almost guarantee USC top-10 billing. However, there is so much more to this class beyond the most highly touted prospects.
The Trojans currently have three commitments from 4-star players, including defensive tackle Jacob Daniel, who earned 5-star billing from the site's individual metrics.
A variety of other 4-star talent in the mix should help shape the 2015 class in the coming months. Names to watch include wide receivers Cordell Broadus and Kanya Bell, running back Malik Lovette, and defensive backs DeChaun Holiday and Isaiah Langley.
USC will not land every high-profile target on its list, but expect Sarkisian and Co. to secure enough talent to finish the 2015 recruiting cycle atop the conference and in the nation's top five.
Recruiting rankings and information culled from 247Sports.com's composite scores.