USC Football: Power Ranking the Recruiting Classes of the 2000s
The USC Trojans have often been regarded as one of the best recruiting schools in all of college football, and their success on the field has been reflective of that.
According to Rivals.com, from 2002-2008, USC has had a recruiting class ranked in the top 10 all but one year, including three years in which they were considered to have the best class in the nation.
However, one of the limitations of the ranking system is that it doesn't take into account how players perform when they get to school.
Often times, players who are considered "five star" recruits don't live up to that title in their time in college, and players who are "three stars" end up having a large impact.
With that said, here are are how the recruiting classes from 2002-2008 would be ranked if you take into account their performance on the field at USC.
*list doesn't include 2009-2011 because many of those players have not had the opportunity to play because of red shirt years and injuries*
*list starts at 2002 rather than 2000 because the previous two recruiting classes were not as highly ranked as the classes from 2002 on*
No. 7: 2008 Recruiting Class
Team Recruiting Rank: Eighth
Five Star Recruits: Tyron Smith, Matt Kalil
Top College Performers: Jurrell Casey, Matt Kalil, Tyron Smith
The USC Trojans' 2008 recruiting class features many current players, making it difficult to judge.
Tyron Smith and Matt Kalil will probably end up being the crown jewels of the class, with Smith already being a top 10 NFL Draft pick and Kalil projected to be a top pick in next years draft.
Jurrell Casey also left for the NFL after last season, and while he wasn't a top draft pick like Smith, his impact for USC was just as great, if not greater.
However, aside from those three players, this recruiting class hasn't featured many impact players. Nick Perry, who will be back for the 2011 season, is the best remaining player from the 2008 class with 13 sacks in his last two seasons.
Wes Horton and Brice Butler, among others, will have the opportunity to add their names to this list in 2011 as well.
No. 6: 2006 Recruiting Class
Team Recruiting Rank: First
Five Star Recruits: Allen Bradford, C.J. Gable, Vidal Hazelton, Stafon Johnson, Taylor Mays
Top College Performers: Stanley Havili, Taylor Mays, David Buehler
The 2006 Recruiting class marked the third straight number one ranked class for the USC Trojans.
However, the best players in the class were those who may have been underrated coming out of high school.
Five Star players like Allen Bradford, C.J. Gable, Vidal Hazelton and Stafon, Johnson had college careers that were hampered by injuries, depth of position and playing the wrong position.
In contrast, lower rated players like Stanley Havili, Shareece Wright and unrated David Buehler turned out to be some of the best for the Trojans.
Taylor Mays is probably the best player of the class, winning All-American honors in 2008 and 2009.
No. 5: 2007 Recruiting Class
Team Recruiting Rank: Second
Five Star Recruits: Marc Tyler, Chris Galippo, Everson Griffen, Ronald Johnson, Joe McKnight, Kristofer O'Dowd
Top College Performers: Ronald Johnson, Joe McKnight, Marc Tyler
USC's 2007 recruiting class is another class on this list with a significant amount of players still active for the Trojans.
Looking at what these players have accomplished already, though, the class appears to be only slightly above average for the Trojans.
Ronald Johnson, one of the best players from the 2007 recruiting class, was never the number one receiving option for USC, but provided solid production. His best two seasons came his sophomore and senior year in which Johnson caught eight touchdown passes and had around 600 yards receiving.
Joe McKnight's best season came in his final year with the team when he rushed for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdown, but despite these numbers, he was never able to live up to his hype as "the next Reggie Bush."
Marc Tyler, Chris Galippo, Da'John Harris and Rhett Ellison all have the opportunity to improve the status of their recruiting class with impressive senior seasons.
No. 4: 2002 Recruiting Class
Team Recruiting Rank: 13th
Five Star Recruits: None
Top College Performers: Darnell Bing, Winston Justice, Mike Williams
The 2002 recruiting class is a great example of a class that was not highly regarded, but turned out to feature some of the most important players of the last decade for USC.
From 2002-2005 in the years that these players were on the roster, USC had a combined record of 48-4 (if you include vacated victories from the 2004 and 2005 seasons) and two national championships in arguably the best four year stretch in team history.
Now, although most players from the 2002 recruiting class were not the core of those squads, there were a few impact players like Darnell Bing, Winston Justice, Mike Williams, Dominique Bird and Dallas Sartz among others that were great contributors.
Mike Williams is the lone All-American selection of the group, receiving that honor for his production during the 2003 season.
No. 3: 2004 Recruiting Class
Team Recruiting Rank: First
Five Star Recruits: Jeff Byers, Scott Ware, Jeff Schweiger Jr., Thomas Herring, Keith Rivers, Ryan Powdrell, Fred Davis, Taitusi Lutui
Top College Performers: Dwayne Jarrett, Fred Davis, Keith Rivers
With eight five star recruits, the 2004 recruiting class was one of the USC Trojans' best ever. However, as prestigious as the class was, many underperformed on the field.
Dwayne Jarret, who was one of the few non five stars in the class, ended up being the best player. Jarret won All-American honors in 2005 and 2006 and was the number one wide receiving option for the Trojans consistently during his time at USC. His best season was in 2005, when Jarret caught 91 passes for 1,274 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Fred Davis turned out to be one of the best tight ends in team history, with his best season coming in 2007. During that year, Davis was the Trojans leading receiver, catching 62 passes for 881 yards and eight touchdowns.
Keith Rivers was the best defensive player in a class that found much of its depth in offensive players like Taitusi (Duece) Lutui and Jeff Byers.
No. 2: 2005 Recruiting Class
Team Recruiting Rank: First
Five Star Recruits: Rey Maualuga, Patrick Turner, Mark Sanchez
Top College Performers: Rey Maualuga, Mark Sanchez, Brian Cushing
The USC Trojans' 2005 recruiting class, in contrast with the 2004 class, was rich with defensive talent, especially at the linebacker position.
Rey Maualuga was the leader of a linebacker class that included Brian Cushing and Kaluka Maiava. Maualuga was an All-American selection in 2008 and received nearly every honor a linebacker can receive in college football.
Mark Sanchez, who led the Trojans to a 12-win season during his lone year as the starting quarterback at USC and threw for over 3,200 yards, including 34 touchdowns, which was the most by any Trojan quarterback in the 2000's.
Patrick Turner never quite lived up to his five star status, although he did have a 10 touchdown season in 2008.
No. 1: 2003 Recruiting Class
Team Recruiting Rank: Third
Five Star Recruits: Reggie Bush, Whitney Lewis
Top College Performers: Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Sam Baker
Ranked only third in the nation, the 2003 recruiting class features some of the best college football players that have ever played.
Reggie Bush and LenDale White combined to form one of the most successful running back duos in college football history, and both were absolutely essential to the USC Trojans' success in the mid 2000's.
Bush, aside from his trouble with the NCAA, won the Heisman Trophy (later retroactively taken away) and was an All-American selection in 2005.
The depth of the class, though, is what makes it special. Players like Sedrick Ellis, Lawrence Jackson, Sam Baker, Steve Smith, Ryan Kalil and even John David Booty are some of the best to ever come through USC and all were recruited in the same class.