When Pete Carroll took over at USC in 2001, the program, which had won nine national championships in its history, was on the brink of national irrelevancy. Years of poor talent evaluation and even worse coaching had made one of the biggest brand names in college football a national punchline.
The Trojans' hiring of Carroll, who had been coaching in the NFL for the previous 17 years and whose last collegiate role was as the defensive coordinator at Pacific, was widely mocked as a disaster waiting to happen, especially when it came to recruiting.
Those questions were answered quickly as he signed a top-10 class in 2002 and top-two classes in 2003 and 2004. He started a streak of acquiring blue-chip talent that carried nearly two decades, ending last season when Clay Helton became the first USC head coach this millennium not to sign a five-star prospect in a given recruiting class. And barring a major National Signing Day surprise, it'll happen again in 2020.
Of 247Sports' 31 five-star prospects in this class, 30 are committed or already signed and on campus at their new school. The lone remaining holdout, running back Zachary Evans, is expected to choose between Ole Miss—the new home of former USC head coach Lane Kiffin—Tennessee, and Texas A&M.
The Trojans, who dealt all season with speculation Helton could be fired, have suffered on the recruiting trail as a result. Their 2020 class ranks 51st nationally and 10th in the Pac-12, ahead of only Washington State, who lost head coach Mike Leach to Mississippi State, and Arizona.
To add insult to injury, The Athletic's Bruce Feldman reported Sunday that Helton fired three defensive coaches just a week after hiring a new defensive coordinator. Amid that turmoil, it's almost impossible to see the Trojans making up much ground on the recruiting trail this late.
Here, we've broken down USC's top remaining 2020 targets and added our predictions of where they end up.
Count the Trojans out here. The four-star defensive lineman tweeted at the weekend that he'll decide between Texas, Baylor, Florida and Auburn on National Signing Day:
Prediction: Umanmielen stays in Texas, but chooses the Bears.
Michael Drennen II
Drennen just squeaked inside 247's most recent Top 247 rankings, and he's had a who's who of suitors over the past year. Kentucky and USC seem to be the two front-runners, though.
Helton recently did an in-home visit with Drennen, according to 247's Bill Greene. But Kentucky answered a big question for the player by retaining assistant coach Vince Marrow, so the Trojans might have a fight on their hands.
Prediction: Drennen opts to stay closer to home and chooses the Wildcats.
The three-star running back from Buford, Georgia, officially visited a week ago and came away very impressed, according to Ryan Young of TrojanSports.com.
In many ways, Turner's recruitment lies solely on whether Drennen opts for Kentucky or USC.
"Coach is going up to Ohio [to] check on him and see if he's still interested in USC, and if not the spot will be mine," Turner told Young. "If they call and say I have the offer I'm taking it right then. I can't let an opportunity like that be wasted."
Prediction: With Drennen headed to Kentucky, Turner becomes a Trojan.
Rankings taken from 247Sports.com. Follow Keegan on Twitter @ByKeeganPope.