College Football Recruiting: USC Trojans Top Positional Needs for 2011

Bill NCorrespondent IJanuary 26, 2011

College Football Recruiting: USC Trojans Top Positional Needs for 2011

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    USC Head Coach Lane KiffinStephen Dunn/Getty Images

    The USC Trojans were 8-5 in 2010 (finishing third in the Pac-10), but only three plays and a time clock operator from an 11-2 season. 

    Not bad for a team with a new coaching staff and only 71 scholarship players after NCAA sanctions allowed junior/senior players to transfer without sitting out a year.

    The Trojans had the eighth toughest schedule in the nation according to the highly respected Sagarin ratings, and that included seven road games. 

    Defense, especially against the pass, was the teams biggest weakness.

    USC redshirted most of their top ranked 2010 recruiting class.  One exception, WR Robert Woods (65 rec, 792 yds, 6 TDs), became the Pac-10 freshman offensive player of the year.

    The Trojans lose 17 seniors and three juniors, including some key players.  These include FB Stanley Havili, RB Allen Bradford, RB C.J. Gable, WR Ronald Johnson, WR David Ausberry, C Kris O’Dowd, OG Butch Lewis, OG Michael Reardon**, OT Tyron Smith*,  TE Jordan Cameron, DT Jurrell Casey*, LB Malcolm Smith, LB Michael Morgan, CB Shareece Wright, K Joe Houston, and K Jacob Harfman.

       *All Pac-10 first team juniors entering the NFL draft  **Bypassed senior year due to injuries

    USC’s 48-man, two-deep depth chart returns 27 players and 14 starters (six offense, eight defense) including DT Christian Tupou, a former starter who was injured in 2010.

    But, the Trojans face the toughest football sanctions since the SMU death penalty including 30 scholarship reductions over three years and a two year bowl ban.  USC is appealing half the scholarship losses and one year bowl ban, and those penalties are delayed during the appeal.

    The NCAA appeal hearing was held on Jan. 22 and a decision is not expected until after the Feb.2 signing day, so USC will be able to give out at least 20 scholarships in 2011 plus the nine early enrollees who have already signed.  This will give USC about 80 scholarship athletes, but some will redshirt.

    Any college except USC would find it very difficult to recruit given the NCAA sanctions.  But, the Trojans currently have another top five recruiting class per Scout and Rivals including 17 commitments for 2011 plus the nine early enrollees who have signed and started classes.  And the Trojans are not done.

    Given the 2010 weaknesses and the key players leaving the team, what are the top positional needs to fill in 2011 and how is USC doing?  All of the star ratings are from Rivals.

1. Offensive Line Is TOP PRIORITY to Replace Three Starters

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    Troy Niklas, Offensive Tackle, will pick between USC, Stanford, Notre Dame

    USC lost three very good starters (one each Center, Guard, Tackle) and there is a lack of depth, so OL has the greatest need.

    Returning athletes (likely position/2011 class): 

    Martin Coleman (OT, Sr.)

    Khaled Holmes (OG/C, Jr.) – started at OG in 2010

    Abe Markowitz (C, Jr.),

    Matt Kalil (OT, Jr.) – started as OT in 2010

    John Martinez (OG, So.)

    Kevin Graf (OT, So.)

    Giovanni Di Poalo (OG/C, Fr.)


    Early enrollees (all signed):

    David Garness, 3-star 6’5”/290, San Francisco, CA (CC)

    Jeremy Galten, 6’4”/290, San Mateo, CA (CC)


    Marcus Martin, 3-star, 6’3”/357, Los Angeles, CA

    Cody Temple, 3-star, 6’3”/280, Bakersfield, CA (also DT)

    Top recruiting targets:

    Troy Niklas, 4-star, 6’7”/243, Anaheim, CA

    Cyrus Hobbi, 4-star, 6’4”/285, Scottsdale, AZ - commits to USC on Jan. 28

    Aundrey Walker, 4-star, 6’5”/355, Cleveland, OH

    Torian White, 3-star, 6’6”/275, Lakewood, CA, (UCLA soft commit)

    There may be a shocking surprise on signing day by a top name not on this list.

    If USC gets at least two of the above top recruiting targets, then it will be considered a success.  The Trojans are deep at Tight End so there are no significant needs unless one of the TEs is moved to OL.  USC will also need to recruit well in the stronger OL class in 2012 to add depth.

    Possible Starters/Key Reserves:

    LT – Kalil/Garness

    LG – Martinez/TBD

    C – Markowitz/DiPoalo

    RG – Holmes/TBD

    RT – Graf/Coleman

2. Linebacker Has Been Weak for Two Seasons

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    Lamar Dawson will decide between 5 colleges including USC

    USC lost two OLB starters, so these positions must be filled.  Linebacker effectiveness has been a problem for the past two seasons.

    Returning athletes (likely position/2011 class): 

    Ross Cumming (OLB,Sr.)

    Chris Galippo (MLB, Sr.) – started in some games in 2010

    Shane Horton ( OLB, Sr.) – started in some games in 2010

    Devon Kennard ( MLB/OLB,Jr.) – started most games in 2010

    Marquis Simmons ( OLB, So.)

    Simione Vehikite ( OLB, So.)

    Hayes Pullard (OLB,Fr.)

    Early enrollees (all signed):

    Dallas Kelley, 3-star, 6’0”/225, Cucamonga, CA *CC (OLB/MLB)

    Soma Vainuku, 4-star, 6’1”/251, Eureka, CA (also FB)


    Tre Madden, 4-star, 6’0”/215, Mission Viejo, CA (OLB)

    Anthony Sarao, 4-star, 6’1”/220, Abescon, NJ (MLB/OLB)

    Kent Turene, 3-star, 6’3”/230, Lauderdale Lakes, FL (MLB/OLB)

    Top recruiting targets:

    Lamar Dawson, 4-star, 6’2”/230, Danville, KY (MLB)

    Corey Waller, 3-star, 6’1”/210, Long Beach, CA (Washington commit – OLB)

    Joe Schmidt, 6’2”/225, Santa Ana, CA (OLB)

    Possible Starters:

    Chris Gallipo (MLB), Devon Kennard (Sam or DE/Leo role), Shane Horton (Will), Pullard/Kelley (Sam if Kennard plays Leo)

    If USC is able to sign all committed athletes, then LB should be good.  Otherwise, at least one more LB is needed and Lamar Dawson would be ideal.

3. Fullback Has a Huge Hole to Fill

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    Soma Vainuku has started classes at USC as early enrollee

    USC had one FB in 2010 due to the NCAA free agent transfer rule and Stanley Havili started for four years, so the position is empty.

    Early enrollees (signed):

    Soma Vainuku, 4-star, 6’1”/251, Eureka, CA (also LB)


    Charles Burks, 3-star, 6’1”/230, Huntington Beach CA (also DE)

    J. R. Tavai, 3-star, 6’2”/260, Redondo Beach, CA (more likely DT)

    Top recruiting targets:  None

    Possible Starters:

    Soma Vainuku, Charles Burks

    Except for lack of experience, USC has good candidates for the FB position.

4. Kickers / Long Snapper Are Key to Special Teams

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    Andrei Heidari is a kicker/punter and already started classes at USC as early enrollee

    USC has no returning scholarship kickers, and one long snapper who will be a senior.

    Long Snapper returning athlete (2011 class): 

    Chris Pousson (Sr.)

    Early enrollees (all signed):

    Andre Heidari, 3-star, 5’11”/185, Bakersfield, CA (P/K)

    Peter McBride, 2-star, 6’1”/215, Scottsdale, AZ (LS)


    Kris Albarado, 2-star, 6’0”/180, Lake Charles, LA (P)

    Top recruiting targets:  None

    Possible Starters:

    Andre Heidari (P/K), Kris Albarado (P), Chris Pousson (LS)

    USC has no further positional needs and should be in good shape for the next four years.

5. Safety Must Be Strengthened

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    Marqise Lee will decide between USC and Miami

    USC needs to strengthen one of the two safety positions.

    Returning athletes (2011 class): 

    Marshall Jones (Sr.) – started some games in 2010

    Drew McAlister (Jr.)

    T.J. McDonald (Jr.) – started all games in 2010 except when injured

    Jawanza Starling (Jr.) – started some games in 2010

    Demetrius Wright (So.)

    Dion Bailey (Fr.)

    Patrick Hall (Fr.)

    Early enrollees (all signed): None

    Committed: None

    Top recruiting targets: 

    Marqise Lee, 4-star, 6’1”/187, Gardena, CA (also RB)

    Karlos Williams, 5-star, 6’2”/210, Davenport, FL

    Erique Florence, 4-stars, 6’2”/181, Valley, Alabama

    Possible Starters:

    T.J. McDonald, Marshall Jones, Drew McAlister, TBD recruit

    USC will fill their Safety needs with at least one recruit.

6. Cornerback Has a Key Player to Replace

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    De'Anthony Thomas is a strong 5-star commit to USC

    USC lost a good CB in Shareece Wright, and that position must be filled.

    Returning athletes (2011 class): 

    T.J. Bryant (Sr.)

    Brian Baucham (Jr.)

    Torin Harris (So.)

    Nickell Robey (So.) – started all games in 2010

    Anthony Brown (Fr.)

    Early enrollees (all signed):

    Isiah Wiley, 3-star, 6’1”/185, Yuma, AZ *CC


    De'Anthony Thomas, 5-star, 5'9"/160, Los Angeles, CA (also RB)

    Top recruiting targets: 

    Marcus Roberson, 4-star, 6’1”/170, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

    Dallas Crawford, 3-star, 5’10”/185, Fort Myers, FL

    Ryan Henderson, 3-star, 5’10”/165, Moreno Valley, CA

    Javorius Allen, 3-star, 6’1”/210, Tallahassee, FL (also RB)

    Possible Starters:

    Nickell Robey, Torin Harris, T.J. Bryant, De’Anthony Thomas, Isiah Wiley

    USC has filled their CB needs.

7. Defensive Line Recruiting for Depth

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    Greg Townsend is a commit for USC

    Jurrell Casey’s early entry to the NFL created a big DT hole.  However, USC only needs to add depth because Christian Tupou started before he was injured and all DE starters return in 2011.

    Returning athletes (Position/2011 class):

    DaJohn Harris (DT/Sr.) – started in 2010

    Christian Tupou (DT/Sr.) – started in 2009

    George Uko (DT/Fr.)

    Armond Armstead (DE or DT/Sr.) – started games in 2010

    Wes Horton (DE/Jr.) – started games in 2010

    Nick Perry (DE/Jr.) – started games in 2010

    James Boyd (DE/So.)

    Kevin Greene (DE/So.)

    Early enrollees (all signed): None


    Jalen Grimble (DT), 4-star, 6’4”/255, Las Vegas, NV (ESPN's Tom Luginbill reports on Jan. 28 that USC is no longer interested in Jalen Grimble; he did not want to change from DE to DT and re-opened his status earlier in the week)

    J. R. Tavai (DT), 3-star, 6’2”/260, Redondo Beach, CA (may also play FB)

    Antwaun Woods (DT), 4-star, 6’1”/322, Woodland Hills, CA

    Cody Temple (DT), 3-star, 6’3”/280, Bakersfield, CA (more likely OL)

    Steve Dillon (DE), 3-star, 6’3”/245, Palmdale, CA

    Greg Townsend Jr. (DE or DT), 4-star, 6’4”/242, Beverly Hills, CA

    DeVante Wilson (DE), 3-star, 6’4”/230, Corona, CA

    Charles Burks (DE), 3-star, 6’1”/230, Huntington Beach CA (more likely FB)

    Top recruiting targets:

    Delvon Simmons (DT), 4-star, 6’5”/265, McKeesport, PA

    Christian Heyward (DT), 4-star, 6’2”/269, San Diego, CA

    Possible Starters:

    Christian Tupou (DT), DaJohn Harris (DT), George Uko (DT), Wes Horton (DE), Nick Perry (DE), Armond Armstead (DE)

    USC has filled their DT needs and is in great shape for DE.

8. Wide Receiver Key Player to Replace

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    George Farmer is 5-star commit for USC

    USC lost a great WR in Ronald Johnson, so that position will need to be filled.

    Returning athletes (2011 class): 

    Brandon Carswell (Sr.)

    Brice Butler (Jr.) - Jan. 26 announced he will transfer

    Markeith Ambles (So.)

    De’Von Flournoy (So.)

    Robert Woods (So.) – Pac-10 freshman offensive player of the year in 2010

    Kyle Prater (Fr.)

    Early enrollees (all signed): None


    George Farmer, 5-star, 6’2”/192, Gardena, CA

    Victor Blackwell, 4-star, 6’1”/186, Santa Ana, CA

    Top recruiting targets:  None

    Possible Starters:

    Robert Woods, Markeith Ambles, George Farmer, Kyle Prater

    USC has terrific receivers including the two commits for many years.

9. Running Back Is Good but Recruiting for the Future

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    Amir Carlisle is a 4-star commit for USC after changing from Stanford

    Returning athletes (2011 class): 

    Marc Tyler (Sr.) – started most games in 2010

    Curtis McNeal (Jr.)

    Dillon Baxter (So.) – started a game in 2010

    D.J. Morgan (Fr.)

    Early enrollees (all signed): None


    Amir Carlisle, 4-star, 5’10”/181, Sunnyvale, CA

    De'Anthony Thomas, 5-star, 5'9”/160, Los Angeles, CA (also CB)

    Top recruiting targets: 

    Javorius Allen, 3-star, 6’1”/210, Tallahassee, FL (also CB)

    Possible Starters:

    Marc Tyler, D.J. Morgan, Dillon Baxter

    USC is in good shape at the running back position.

10. Quarterback Is Solid but Recruiting for the Future

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    Cody Kessler is one of two 4-star QB early enrollees for USC

    Returning athletes (2011 class): 

    Matt Barkley (Jr.) – started all but one game when injured in 2010

    Jesse Scroggins (Fr.)

    Early enrollees (all signed):

    Cody Kessler, 4-star, 6’1”/208, Bakersfield, CA

    Max Wittek, 4-star, 6’4”/215, Santa Ana, CA

    Committed:  None   

    Top recruiting targets:  None


    Matt Barkley

    USC is in great shape at QB for at least the next four years.



    One thing is for sure, Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron, Joe Barry, Kennedy Pola, Monte Kiffin, John Baxter, etc. are doing a fantastic job recruiting for USC and that is not a surprise.