When Steve Sarkisian accepted the Trojans head coaching job after the 2013 season, he did so knowing that USC would be facing tremendous depth issues after suffering from three years of NCAA-imposed sanctions.
Those sanctions included the loss of 30 scholarships over that period, thus creating a roster that was only two-deep in quality players at some critical units.
Given those circumstances, "Sark" knew he would have to be creative with recruiting so that his limited scholarship players would deliver the most bang for those precious scholarship bucks.
So began a recruiting plan that would focus whenever possible on player versatility.
In the 2014 recruiting class, Sark signed Adoree' Jackson, a 247Sports 5-star cornerback who will undoubtedly play that position at USC, but who will also be seen catching passes on offense as well as returning kicks on special teams.
Also recruited in that class was John "JuJu" Smith, another 5-star player listed as an "athlete," but who actually made his hay as a safety in high school.
Smith will be catching passes for the Trojans in 2014.
Hell, even Jonathan Lockett, a 4-star cornerback who will stay at that position for the Trojans, will be given a long look as a kick returner on special teams.
The point is that in a pinch, these guys can be effective in other areas if the Trojans' depleted roster demands their attention.
It's a smart strategy and one that Sark and his Trojan recruiting brain trust has continued with the recruiting class of 2015.
For example, Taeon Mason—one of USC's first pledges in this class—is listed as a cornerback by 247sports.
Mason is being recruited as a receiver by the Trojans.
Another player whose versatility may result in him being looked at in different position is Noah Jefferson—a defensive end who tore it up as a tight end in seven-on-seven camps this summer.
Langley's future both at USC and beyond is likely in the defensive backfield as tall, quick and athletic corners are always in demand. But that is not the point of this article.
The point is that Sark and his coaching crew are making the best of the short deck they were handed when it comes to replenishing a roster ravaged by the powers that be at the NCAA.
Although USC will have its full complement of scholarships in 2015, it will still take a couple of years to get its roster on par with all of the other programs who have not had to deal with the hurdles that the Trojans have in the last three years.
In the meantime, Sark will rely on recruiting as many players as possible who can step into another position if needed.
It's not the greatest situation to be in, but one that will have to be addressed if necessary.
For Sark and the legions of fans who follow the men of Troy, hopefully that won't be the case in 2014.
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