# USC Football Recruiting: Lane Kiffin 2012 Scholarship Math and Greatest Needs

Bill N@@Bill_N1Correspondent IMay 11, 2011

# USC Football Recruiting: Lane Kiffin 2012 Scholarship Math and Greatest Needs

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The USC Trojans are reloading with terrific 2010 and 2011 top-five football recruiting classes. But never has a class been more critical or difficult than 2012.

The NCAA sanctions after the USC appeal is likely denied will limit the Trojans to 15 new scholarships per year and 75 total scholarships for each of the next three years.

There are three topics that need to be analyzed and understood to ensure a successful 2012 recruiting class by head coach Lane Kiffin and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron:

1. The scholarship math is complicated, so it needs to be understood and managed.
2. The positions of greatest need must be identified in order to prioritize recruiting.
3. Finally, the top candidates for these needed positions must be identified and tracked.

Let’s review these areas in the following slides.

P.S. A special thanks to B/R reader USC Fan for suggesting this article.  Other suggestions are always appreciated.

# Scholarship Math

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The scholarship math is complicated because there are so many unknown variables, including the number of transfers, players leaving early for the NFL and members of the 2011 class that may not qualify academically.

However, reasonable assumptions can be made to determine the number of scholarships most likely available for the 2012 class.

Since USC signed only 23 players for the class of 2011 (with eight early enrollees counting toward the class of 2010), that leaves two scholarships available under the 25 scholarship per class limit.

Those two extra scholarships can be used for junior college players or early enrollees during this recruiting cycle, allowing head coach Lane Kiffin to bump that total of 15 players up to 17, subject to remaining under the 75 scholarship limit.

But the 75 scholarship limit is the real constraint.

You can bet that Kiffin has done his own scholarship math and it may look something like the following:

USC current scholarship players (including 2011 class members not qualified yet): 82

Less: Transfers assumption: 2

Less: Juniors who may leave early (candidates QB Matt Barkley, OT Matt Kalil, S T. J. McDonald, DE Nick Perry): 3

Less: 2011 class players not qualified academically (possibly Antwaun Woods, J.R. Tavai, Steve Dillon): 2

Total:  62 (since 75 is the maximum, this leaves 13 scholarships available)

Given the unknown variables, let’s optimistically assume two other slots become available and 15 scholarships will be filled in the USC 2012 recruiting class.  The minimum number of scholarships is six if there are no transfers, players leaving early or 2011 non-qualifiers.

It should be noted that scholarships are renewed annually.  USC has never taken advantage of this to take a scholarship away from a player who was meeting all academic and football requirements, unlike the SEC conference, which has the worst record of oversigning in the country.

Therefore, let’s assume that this does not happen in spite of the unfair NCAA sanctions.

If the NCAA has any integrity and USC’s appeal is granted, then there will be five additional scholarships.

# Early Enrollees Must Be Carefully Considered

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It is unrealistic to expect that the maximum of 17 new players will be realized, and USC should be very careful about using the two early enrollees for any athlete that they do value as much as the rest of the class.

Currently, Fullerton Community College running back Kelvin York would take one of those "extra" scholarships if he is able to graduate in December.

However, as indicated in the next section of this article, RB is not a position of greatest need, and it is not clear that he would be valued as much as other athletes in this class.

# 2011 Class Qualification Status

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The latest 2011 class qualification status is tricky because USC cannot officially comment on the eligibility of signees going through the NCAA Clearinghouse.

USC has six 2011 signees on eligibility watch.

DT Antwaun Woods and J.R. Tavai both have multiple core classes to still complete.  Woods did not receive a good ACT score on his last attempt, but he has two more chances to take that and the SAT to raise his qualifying score. Otherwise, he must raise his overall core GPA.

According to Tavai, the only thing standing in the way of his dream of becoming a Trojan in the fall is his SAT score.  He said that if the SAT doesn’t come in like he expects, he may have to take a summer class, but he will be eligible.

Defensive end Steve Dillon also has a core class to finish and must raise his GPA and take his SAT for a higher score, and a tutor is helping him.

OT Cody Temple still has one core class to complete, but he has completed his most challenging courses.

Athlete Marqise Lee is missing some classes from Morningside High School, but he made good strides last semester.

CB Isaiah Wiley was short on an electives when he tried to enroll at USC last January, but he has final exams this week, and his transcripts will be sent to USC shortly after.

# Positions of Greatest Need

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What are the greatest positions of need to fill the 15 slots?

Here is the USC depth chart after spring practice on April 26.  It doesn’t mean a lot, considering many of the starting positions will be determined in fall practice, but it is an indicator.

After considering some of the key players who are likely to leave USC in the next few years and the strength of the current players at each position, it is possible to determine the positions of highest need in the 2012 class.

This analysis results in highest need for offensive linemen, fullback, defensive line, linebacker and defensive back in priority order.

All positions are discussed in the following slides to support that conclusion.

# Quarterback Is Solid

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USC has four very good scholarship quarterbacks, with one redshirt freshman and two true freshmen, but Matt Barkley will leave for the NFL in the next year or two.

Lane Kiffin does like to have four scholarship QBs, so if he believes that Barkley may leave early, he may be tempted to add another QB, but this should only be done for a truly top QB.

# A Stable Full of Running Backs

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Probable starter Marc Tyler will graduate, but USC is blessed with very good young running backs.

These include Curtis McNeal, Dillon Baxter, D.J. Morgan and incoming freshmen Amir Carlisle and Javorius Allen.

Each of these running backs is different, and Kiffin did not identify a starter after spring practice.

McNeal is short, but deceptively powerful. Morgan is a fast slasher capable of breaking big runs. Baxter is graceful and versatile, equally adept at catching and throwing the ball, as he is running with it.

Carlisle and Allen are also different, and we will see how they fit in next year because they are likely to redshirt.

# Fullback Needs Another Stud

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USC has only one scholarship fullback in freshman Soma Vainuku.  Walk-on Hunter Simmons is the backup, with senior TE Rhett Ellison to be used when needed.

Incoming freshman Charles Burks will get a look, although he plays defense.

The Trojans need one very good FB.

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Split end probable starter Brandon Carswell will graduate.

But, USC is loaded with outstanding young receivers including Robert Woods, De’Von Flourney, Markeith Ambles, Kyle Prater, Brice Butler and incoming freshmen George Farmer, Victor Blackwell and Marqise Lee.

# Tight End Is Well Stocked

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But USC has three excellent redshirt-freshmen tight ends in Christian Thomas, Xavier Grimble and Randal Telfer with incoming freshman Junior Pomee.

# Offensive Line Needs Great Recruits

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Junior starting OT Matt Kalil may leave early, and RG Martin Coleman will graduate.  Junior Khaled Holmes and sophomore Kevin Graf are likely to start.

The remaining positions are up for grabs, and the Trojans are inexperienced.  Incoming freshmen Cyrus Hobbi and Aundrey Walker have high expectations and may play key roles.

Still, the Trojans will lose seven OL in the next two years, leaving only seven.

Since the 2012 class has very good OL, this is a great opportunity for the Trojans to reload and land four to five very good ones.  This is the highest priority in this class.

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Starting nose tackle Christian Tupou, backup DaJohn Harris and DT Armond Armstead are seniors.  Weakside end Nick Perry may leave early for the NFL if he achieves his 15-sack goal.

This leaves only sophomore Kevin Greene with any experience, and redshirt freshman George Uko will get experience.

Incoming freshmen Steve Dillon, J.R. Tavai and Antwaun Woods may not qualify.  Greg Townsend, DeVante Wilson and Christian Heyward are the other new freshmen DL.

Trojans need three to four very good defensive linemen.

# Linebacker Replacing Seniors

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WILL starter Chris Galippo and backup Shane Horton will graduate, along with SAM Ross Cumming

The Trojans have two juniors who will be gone in two years, including MIKE starter Devon Kennard and backup Dallas Kelley

Only Marquis Simmons will be left as a projected starter at SAM.

Redshirt freshmen Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard are likely to get experience.

The Trojans also have several very good incoming freshmen, especially Lamar Dawson, who is likely to contribute this year and be a starter in 2012.

USC needs at least two to three LB.

# Defensive Backs Begin to Reload

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Only projected safety starter Marshall Jones and backup CB T.J. Bryant are seniors, however, junior starting safety T.J. McDonald may leave early for the NFL.

There are five other juniors who will graduate in two years.

The Trojans need at least two to three DBs.

# Special Teams Specialists Are in Good Shape

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Incoming freshman Kris Albarado, kicker Andre Heidari and long snapper Peter McBride will be the key players for the next four years.

Special teams coach John Baxter is very high on each of them, and his judgment is pretty good.

# Filling the 15 Positions of Greatest Need

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USC currently has six verbal commitments, which are not binding:

Arik Armstead, DE, 6’8”/280, Elk Grove, CA

Jaydon Mickens, ATH, 5’8”/170, Los Angeles, CA

Jordan Payton, WR, 6’2”/199, Westlake Village, CA

Darreus Rogers, WR/Safety, 6’2”/194, Carson, CA

Jabari Ruffin, LB, 6’4”/230, Downey, CA

Kelvin York, RB, 5’11”/225, Fullerton, CA

Clearly Armstead, who many think is the best athlete in the nation, and Ruffin fill positions of greatest need.  If Rogers plays safety, then he is also needed.

However, Payton and York do not play positions of greatest need, although Payton is one of the more high-profile prospects in the West, but he is also looking at other colleges. Mickens is an athlete, so he could play DB, but he is being identified as a slot receiver and return player. I'm not sure that he is good enough to be included in this small class.

So, it appears that only three of the six should be signed by USC.

The following slides include the top candidates for each of the positions of highest need.   All athletes are in the Rivals Top 250, and players who have committed to other schools have been excluded.

As you can see, USC has very good candidates for these 15 scholarship positions, except at fullback.

# Offensive Linemen: Need Four to Five Very Good OL

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 Name Ht/Wt Position Interest USC Offer Hometown, State 6'4"/330 Guard Med Yes Encino, CA 6'7"/275 Tackle Med Yes San Clemente, CA 6'8"/300 Tackle Med Yes Richmond, CA 6'9"/315 Tackle Med Yes Lakewood, WA 6'6"/280 Tackle Med Yes Las Vegas, NV 6'5"/285 Guard Med Yes Puyallup, WA 6'6"/265 Tackle Med Yes Tempe, AZ 6'6"/310 Tackle Med Yes Burford, GA 6'7"/290 Tackle Med Yes Pearland, TX 6'5"/300 Guard Med No Compton, CA 6'6"/275 Tackle Med No La Costa Canyon, CA 6'5"/280 Tackle Med No Santa Margarita, CA 6'7"/270 Tackle Med No San Jose, CA

# Fullbacks: Need One

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No candidates

# Defensive Linemen: Need Three to Four

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 Name Ht/Wt Position Interest USC Offer Hometown, State 6'8"/285 End Commit Yes Elk Grove, CA 6'5"/310 Tackle Med Yes Monrovia, CA 6'2"/250 Tackle Med Yes Tampa, FL 6'4"/245 End Med Yes Harrisburgh, PA 6'3"/220 End Med Yes Tampa, FL 6'4"/230 End Med Yes Cincinnati, OH 6'4"/310 Tackle Med Yes Washington, DC 6'4"/245 End Med Yes Ramsey, NJ 6'3"/235 End Med Yes Hamilton, GA 6'2"/300 Nose Med Yes Glen Ellyn, IL 6'3"/250 Nose Med Yes Bamberg, SC 6'3"/275 End Med Yes McDonough, GA

# Linebackers: Need Two to Three

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 Name Ht/Wt Position Interest USC Offer Hometown, State 6'3"/230 Outside Commit Yes Downey, CA 6'4"/225 Outside Med Yes The Villages, FL 6'2"/215 Outside Med Yes Oxford, AL 6'2"/210 Outside Med Yes McKees Rocks, PA 6'3"/225 Outside Med No Norco, CA 6'2"/215 Outside Med Yes Stone Mountain, GA 6'3"/210 Outside Med Yes Euless, TX 6'3"/225 Inside Med Yes Rockdale, TX 6'4"/220 Outside Med Yes Buford, GA

# Defensive Backs: Need Two to Three

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 Name Ht/Wt Position Interest USC Offer Hometown, State 6'2"/180 Safety Med Yes Tampa, FL 5'10"/170 Corner Med Yes Scottsdale, AZ 5'9"/160 Corner Med Yes Detroit, MI 6'1"/180 Safety Med Yes Tallahassee, FL 6'1"/210 Safety Med Yes Ramsey, NJ 6'0"/165 Corner Med Yes Atlanta, GA 6'0"/200 Safety Med Yes Geismar, LA 6'2"/195 Safety/WR Commit Yes Carson, CA 5'11"/175 Corner Med Yes Glenville, OH 5'11"/185 Corner Med Yes Columbus, GA 6’1”/210 Safety Med Yes Woodland Hills, CA (Pierce Community College) 6'0"/175 Corner Med No Pasadena, CA 5'8"/180 Corner Med No Westlake Village, CA