In the wake of an elite recruiting class, the USC Trojans are still on thin competitive ice. A top-five recruiting class for 2011 isn't enough to reduce the anxiety and urgency that Coach Lane Kiffin and his team feel in light of their program sanctions, which are currently under appeal.
With 24 committed players on or before Signing Day, Kiffin's haul was among the best in the country, and he wasted no time in gerrymandering the sanctions to apply several of those players to 2010's unsanctioned scholarship total.
In a time when USC's competitive ability is involuntarily hampered, Kiffin and the Trojans are working overtime to speed the learning curve of all new talent, due to thin ranks at most positions.
Last year, the lack of depth killed USC in attrition as the season wore on, and the reduced roster size will not suffice as an excuse for losing in 2011.
The Trojans, more than ever before, have glaring weaknesses and were actually over-matched by opponents at several positions last year.
Many of the 2011 incoming freshmen will go a long way in plugging the biggest of USC's holes, which gives the class even more strength than the numbers and rankings tell; adding talent at stacked positions is always a plus, but those talented players mean so much more when they strengthen a shortcoming.
Here are 10 incoming Trojans that will need to develop quickly at thin positions to allow USC to return to the throne of the Pac-12.