USC Recruiting: The 5 Biggest Recruiting Misses

Ross Dautel@@RossDautelContributor IIIApril 30, 2012

USC Recruiting: The 5 Biggest Recruiting Misses

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    USC recruiting has been dominant over the years, but it's hard to overlook some of the key misses that the Trojan coaching staff failed to secure during the school's impressive history.

    With that in mind, let's take a look at the five biggest recruiting misses that have negatively impacted the program...

5. Dan Fouts

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    Fouts was an unheralded quarterback from the Bay Area who was severely under-recruited out of St. Ignatius (San Francisco), Calif. Fouts' high school career coincided with the glory days of John McKay and the mighty Trojans, but the talented quarterback failed to receive any recognition from USC.

    The only scholarship offer Fouts earned was from Oregon, where he went on to set 19 school records. Of course, Fouts went on to have a prolific professional career as well, in which he was a six-time Pro Bowler and a member of the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.

    During a time when USC nabbed the majority of recruits they wanted in California, McKay and his staff overlooked a good one in Fouts.

4. Manti Te'o

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    Te'o can be classified as one of the biggest recruiting misses of the Pete Carroll era. The talented linebacker from Punahou, Hawaii was rated as a 5-star prospect by and was also considered to be the consensus top prep linebacker in the country.

    Te'o, who is a Mormon, was expected by many to attend BYU, but after he eliminated the Cougars just before Signing Day, USC became the odds on favorite.

    Te'o ended up spurning the Trojans by electing to play for Charlie Weis and Notre Dame instead, where he has had a prolific college career up to this point.

    He led the Irish in tackles each of the past two seasons and is looking to do the same this coming year. For as good as USC's linebacking corps is this year, having Te'o patrolling the middle would make it one of the best in recent memory.

3. De'Anthony Thomas

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    The story on Thomas is still in the works, but when his college career is in the books, he could very well find himself atop this list.

    After committing to USC during his junior season, the 5-star athlete took at late recruiting visit to Eugene and committed to the Ducks just days later on Signing Day.

    This one particularly stings for Lane Kiffin and company seeing as Thomas was committed to USC for nearly an entire year and was actively recruiting players to join him in Los Angeles. To make matters worse, The Black Mamba is a Los Angeles native, which means the Trojans let one slip away from their own backyard.

    As it stands right now, Thomas is 0-1 against USC, failing to register a victory in his first matchup against the Trojans last November. However, there is no doubting Thomas' explosiveness and watching him excel for Oregon is enough to make any USC fan cringe.

2. Napoleon Kaufman and Gaston Green

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    These players are coupled together, largely because they were both local running back prospects who went on to have illustrious college careers at other Pac-12 schools.

    Green, who hailed from nearby Gardena, Calif., committed to UCLA over the Trojans in 1984. During his tenure in Westwood, Green went on to set the all-time school rushing record with 3,731 yards.

    To add insult to injury, Green seemed to play his best football against USC, rushing for 134 yards, 145 yards and 224 yards during his freshman, sophomore and junior seasons, respectively, against the Trojans. The Bruins won two of those three contests.

    Kaufman originated from Lompac, Calif., roughly 150 miles from USC's campus. After selecting Washington over USC, Kaufman set Washington's school record in rushing yards with 4,106, a record he still holds today.

    Kaufman also went on to be a first-round pick after earning All-Pac 10 honors three times and beating USC two times.

1. DeSean Jackson

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    Say what you will about Jackson's attitude and demeanor off the field, but it's hard to argue with his on-field ability.

    Jackson was a 5-star wide receiver out of nearby Long Beach Poly, a USC pipeline that had recently sent a number of talented prospects to Troy, including Darnell Bing, Winston Justice, Jurrell Casey, Manuel Wright and Willie McGinest.

    Many expected Jackson to follow suit and commit to USC, but on National Signing Day, he chose Jeff Tedford and the Golden Bears.

    Jackson's career at Cal was nothing short of phenomenal, as he made a name for himself as a dynamic wide receiver and punt returner.

    Jackson may have never beat USC during his three-year career in Berkeley, but what Trojan fans fail to remember is that the Trojans went on a title drought during that time as well.

    You can bet that had Jackson donned the Cardinal and Gold, USC would have scored more than nine points against UCLA in 2006 and more than 23 points against lowly Stanford in 2007, which could have possibly resulted in a couple more National Championships in Heritage Hall.