USC Football: Latest Recruiting News and Updates
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Okay, so the season is over and Trojan fans are left on the outside looking in while lesser teams get to enjoy the bowl festivities.
Not to worry, the "second season" is still to be enjoyed, and while USC will suffer the same residual punishments of reduced scholarships that stem from the sanctions that are costing them an opportunity of postseason play this year, there is still plenty news on the recruiting front.
Several high-profile recruits have now targeted the Trojans after their big 2011 season, and others have gone so far as to schedule visits with the cardinal and gold.
Still other players who have been offered have decided to go elsewhere and to make up for their loss, Head Coach Lane Kiffin and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron have extended new offers to players.
This slideshow will look at all of these developments as national signing day approaches in February.
Though USC only has a limited amount of scholarships to offer, the opportunities for some really good prep players to come out west is abundant for the men of Troy.
So let's get started, shall we?
Players off the Board (The Ones Who Got Away)
Let's get the bad news out of the way first.
USC apparently isn't for everyone and though they tried, here is a list of players who the Trojans offered but decided to go elsewhere:
Keith Marshall (Running back; Georgia)
Noor Davis (Linebacker; Stanford)
Derrick Woods (Wide Receiver; Oklahoma)
Ryan McDaniel (Middle Linebacker; Washington)
Alton Howard (Wide Receiver; Tennessee)
Noor Davis took a trip to USC and liked what he saw, but Stanford was going to be hard to overtake for this talented linebacker, so his verbal to the Cardinal came as no surprise.
Marshall was a longshot at best and Woods knew he probably couldn't crack the Trojans starting lineup, especially with USC getting a verbal from Carson wide receiver Darreus Rogers earlier this year.
McDaniel and Howard, while nice players, probably wouldn't have fit with the Trojans anyway.
Knock-Knock (May I Come Visit?)
Hiva Lutui (photo by recruiting.scout.com)
While travel plans are still being arranged for many of the nation's premier recruits (and this includes those still coming to visit USC), there have been some trips already verified.
Here is a short list of players coming to visit the Trojans along with some brief info on them:
Hiva Lutui (Visit date: Jan. 20, 2012)
This 6'1", 270 lb. former UCLA pledge is a Scout.com 4-star center whose interest in the Trojans has heated up since Bruin head coach Rick Neuheisel's recent firing.
Lutui (any relation to former Trojan Deuce?) has gone on record as saying he now has USC in his top three and he will take his trip to visit the Trojans with his high school teammate, linebacker Brian Nance, whom the Trojans have also offered.
Brian Nance (Visit date: Jan. 20, 2012)
Brian Nance is a very intriguing 6'3", 210 lb., linebacker who has the frame to be a big-time player at the next level.
Teammate of the above-mentioned Hiva Lutui, Nance has recently said that the Trojans are high on his list.
Nance is a Scout.com three-star prospect, who also holds offers from Oklahoma and Arkansas among others.
Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick (Visit date: Jan. 21, 2012)
Cope-Fitzpatrick gave his verbal pledge to the Trojans a few months ago but has recently been listed as a "soft verbal" by Scout.
A four-star tight end, Cope-Fitzpatrick has all of the tools to be very good at the next level.
Now Trojan fans will have to hope that his original pledge remains strong.
For These Players, the Trojans Made the Cut
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The vast majority of the following players have been featured in prior recruiting articles written by yours truly.
The difference now is that as national signing day draws near, these players have begun the process of narrowing down their choices and in doing so, have decided that USC is on their "short list."
The following slides will feature these players along with some brief commentary on the likelihood of their signing with USC.
Also, those schools (other than USC) that they are considering will be identified as well.
photo from ucla.scout.com
The Trojans need defensive linemen and in Ellis McCarthy, they have the possibility of getting one of the nation's best.
McCarthy, a 6'5", 310 lb. beast, is rated a five-star prospect by Scout.com and is the No. 17 overall rated player by Rivals.com.
McCarthy, a local product from Monrovia, Calif., has made several trips to USC and he loves what he sees.
It should also be noted that McCarthy has camped at USC and has a close relationship with both Ed Orgeron and Kennedy Polamalu.
USC's main competition for McCarthy will be Oregon, although he holds offers from most of the main programs in the nation.
Chance of signing with the Trojans: Very good
photo by scout.com
Stefon Diggs, a 6'0", 185 lb. wide receiver/cornerback from Olney, Md., was a late recipient of an offer by the Trojans but apparently likes the idea of coming west to play for USC.
Diggs, rated a five-star prospect by Scout.com, is a versatile player whom the Trojans likely would play at the corner.
Recently, Diggs narrowed his list and USC made the cut along with a few others, including Oklahoma and Michigan.
Chance of signing with the Trojans: Low to medium
photo from Rivals.com
The Trojans would love to get a signature from this 6'3", 275 lb. defensive lineman from Atwater, Calif., in the north of the state.
The problem is, so would about three dozen other programs in the nation.
Shittu, a very talented and versatile interior lineman with catlike quickness, will be a force at the next level.
He has trimmed a ton of offers to about seven and USC is among those he is still looking at, but Stanford looks like the program Shittu is most likely to sign with.
Still, the four-star Scout.com recruit and No. 27 overall prospect of Rivals.com seems somewhat open and it should be noted that he has camped with USC which can only help the Trojans cause.
Chance of signing with the Trojans: Medium
photo from recruiting.scout.com
The Trojans may be a victim of their own success when it comes time to sign on the dotted line for big Kyle Murphy.
With verbals from offensive linemen Max Tuerk, Jordan Simmons and Chad Wheeler, the Trojans have done pretty well already this year in terms of recruits (assuming they all sign, of course).
That isn't to say that USC is satisfied with this talented trio, however, and nothing would please Lane Kiffin more than to get the 6' 7", 290 lb. San Clemente, Calif., product.
Whether Murphy would be willing to reciprocate is in question.
With a ton of offers in his pocket, Murphy may decide to head somewhere else, if for no other reason than to dodge what will be some stiff competition, not only from the above-mentioned incoming linemen but also from others such as Zack Banner and Joshua Garnett, both five-star linemen who have recently expressed increased interest in USC.
That doesn't even take into account the young linemen who started for the Trojans this year and some quality talent who took redshirt years for USC.
Chance of signing with the Trojans: Medium
Darius Hamilton, a 6' 4", 245 lb. Scout.com five-star defensive end, is an interesting recruiting story for the Trojans.
Hamilton has held a USC offer for months now, and there was little indication that he was interested in the Trojans.
Then a couple of weeks ago, rumblings started that USC was in the mix for the talented lineman from Ramsey, N.J.
Now, Hamilton has confirmed his interest in the Trojans and has them in his top five along with the possibility of a visit.
Whether this translates to a signature remains to be seen.
Chances of signing with the Trojans: low to medium
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These are busy times for the Trojans recruiting department and news should come fast and furious over the next few weeks.
Given the fact that USC will be operating under the burden of reduced scholarships over the next three years, prudence will be the order of the day in who receives those offers, which helps explain the recent decommitment of two former prospects.
New offers remain within the overall recruiting strategy, and this will be the focus of the next article.
In the meantime, look for more visits to be arranged, and it is expected that many of the recruits the Trojans have in their crosshairs will pull the trigger with new verbal commitments of their own.
How many of those will pledge to the Trojans remains to be seen, but fans of the program can expect at least a fair portion of good news in the next few weeks.
How much good news will determine the Trojans' fortunes for this year's recruiting efforts.
And needless to say, Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron will be sitting on pins and needles awaiting that news.
And so will the fans of the men of Troy.