A highly disappointing 7-6 season meant USC head coach Lane Kiffin had to make a big recruiting splash in order for the Trojans to bounce back.
USC’s biggest trouble last year was on defense, and the Trojans were set to bring in a slew of young defensive linemen, but several de-committed just before Wednesday’s National Signing Day. USC lost five of their last six games to end 2012, surrendering an average of 36.4 points in each loss.
Defensive lineman Kylie Fitts chose UCLA over the Trojans. Fitts de-committed when USC informed him he would have to wait until the summer to enroll after a senior failed to graduate. Fitts originally planned to start in January upon graduating early. The Bruins then swooped in and Fitts went with USC’s crosstown rival.
Before Fitts, defensive back Jalen Ramsey, and defensive linemen Torrodney Prevot and Jason Hatcher also backed out of their commitments.
Still USC has put together a solid new class led by quarterback Max Browne. Standing at 6-foot-5, the Gatorade National Player of the Year and USA Today All-USA Offensive Player of the Year tossed 49 touchdowns and 4,526 yards as a senior for Skyline High School in Sammamish, WA. He could serve as the replacement to NFL-bound Matt Barkley.
Joining Browne in the backfield is Justin Davis from Stockton, Calif. Combining his junior and senior years, Davis rushed for 4,419 yards and 63 touchdowns, and can provide depth for a Trojans rushing attack that was 73rd in the nation.
Kiffin and his staff didn’t completely lose out on defensive linemen. Five-star recruit Kenny Bigelow from Eastern Christian Academy in Elkton, Maryland was ranked by many as the No. 1 defensive tackle in the country. Bigelow’s 295-pound, 6-foot-3 frame recorded 20 sacks and 40 tackles as a senior.
A trio of defensive backs could boost a USC secondary that was ranked 52nd in passing defense. In-state recruits Chris Hawkins and Su’a Cravens, along with Leon McQuay III from Florida have all committed. While USC was eighth in the country with 19 interceptions, gave up 227 passing yards a game.
The Trojans remain in the running for several other prominent prospects before the deadline. Due to sanctions, USC is only allowed to carry 75 scholarship players instead of 85. USC remain in the running for Quinton Powell, a five-star linebacker.
USC only have 11 players who have committed, but still rank No. 18, according to Scout.com rankings. UCLA are ranked No. 6, with 24 recruits.