USC Football Recruiting: Looking Ahead to 2016 Class
Coming off its best national signing day since 2007, USC football has no time to revel in its recruiting success for 2015.
The Trojans already embarked down the road to national signing day 2016 via the team's junior day on Jan. 31.
In the weeks and months to come, expect more prospects to join the three already committed to head coach Steve Sarkisian's 2016 recruiting class.
Business really picks up in the summer, however, as the nation's top recruits convene upon various camps around the country.
USC's recruiting machine should be going at full strength by then.
Sarkisian and Co. got to work on USC's 2016 recruiting class, adding a commitment from 4-star linebacker Daelin Hayes nearly seven months ago.
Hayes is the nation's No. 5-rated linebacker and the latest in a steady stream of standouts USC has targeted at the position. The Trojans' 2015 class was rife with linebacker talent, and Hayes would fit in with that crew nicely.
Isaac Garcia, a 4-star defensive end from Bellevue High School in Bellevue, Washington, committed to USC in September.
The Trojans did not have to go quite as far to get a commitment from 4-star, dual-threat quarterback Mique Juarez last month.
Juarez hails from Torrance, California, the same hometown as Sarkisian.
Offensive Targets to Know
Offensive line was a point of emphasis for Sarkisian in his first recruiting class at USC. As a result, the Trojans are flush with players up front who gained invaluable experience in 2014 and will be hardened veterans by 2016.
Anchrum was high school teammates with 5-star 2014 USC signee Chuma Edoga at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia.
Adding wide receivers both for depth and to make an instant impact is among the highest priorities for USC on the 2016 recruiting trail.
Ricky Town and Sam Darnold, a pair of 4-star 2015 signees, join a currently crowded quarterback depth chart. USC returns 2013 5-star prospect Max Browne, who has three years of eligibility remaining, as well as 2014 signee Jalen Greene.
As for 2016, USC already has a verbal commitment from dual-threat playmaker Juarez. However, the top-rated prospect of USC's current targets is a pro-style quarterback, 5-star Shea Patterson.
USC is also after local recruit K.J. Costello, a 4-star product of Santa Margarita Catholic in Rancho Santa Margarita, California.
Defensive Targets to Know
One of the centerpiece prospects in USC's 2015 signing class was defensive tackle Rasheem Green, and in 2016, he could be reunited with high school teammate Oluwole Betiku.
Betiku, a 4-star defensive end, is the latest top recruit from USC's favorite local pipeline, Junipero Serra High School in Gardena, California.
USC could go into another California prep football hotbed, De La Salle in Concord, for defensive end Devin Asiasi.
The 2016 signing class should be dedicated more to establishing depth at linebacker than forcing in instant-impact freshmen. USC will be replete with young talent the position by then, thanks to a stellar 2015 class.
But that doesn't mean the Trojans won't be pursuing high-level prospects at linebacker. In addition to Hayes, USC is in the hunt for local (Downey, California) 4-star prospect Darrian Franklin and 4-star Lokeni Toailoa.
No unit on the USC roster will have more returning players in 2016 than the secondary, thanks to the infusion of youngsters added in both 2014 and 2015.
Adding more defensive backs may be somewhat less pressing than other positions next year, but USC coaches are targeting some high-profile prospects for the secondary.
While the vast majority of Sarkisian's 2015 signing class came from California—20 of 26 recruits, to be exact—the USC coaching staff went into five states in total to put together its impressive group.
More importantly, some of the class' highest-rated prospects came from out of state: 5-star offensive lineman Chuma Edoga, 5-star and 4-star linebackers Osa Masina and Porter Gustin and 4-star running back Ronald Jones II.
Already for 2016, USC went into Big Ten Country for one commit (Hayes) and Sarkisian's old stomping grounds near Seattle for another (Garcia).
Other targets from the national recruiting trail who could make a splash for next year's recruiting class include Jones (Patterson, Louisiana), Patterson (Shreveport, Louisiana) and Anderson (Manvel, Texas).
California in general and Southern California specifically have been great to USC, and there is no indication Sarkisian is abandoning the program's heavy reliance on the local scene.
But with two of the Trojans' top players of recent years coming from Florida (defensive lineman Leonard Williams and running back Javorius "Buck" Allen), there's plenty to be said about the importance of pipelines around the country.
The Challenge Is Just Beginning
Both are gone, a reminder that things in college football can change monumentally in just a few short months. With Jim Harbaugh at the helm, the Wolverines will make a serious push to keep him in Ann Arbor.
And 247Sports Crystal Ball panelists slightly favor Michigan over USC, despite Hayes' commitment to the Trojans.
Hayes' impending recruitment is a reminder that even after a verbal pledge is made, a team's wooing of a prospect is not finished until the national letter of intent arrives.
Recruiting is truly a yearlong endeavor, and plenty can and will change in the year to come.
Recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.com composite scores.