Grading the USC Trojans recruting class now that most of the National Letters of Intent have been signed and sent, and National Signing Day has wrapped up.
There wasn’t any other college football head coach who translated his team’s on-field success into commitments as well as Clay Helton did this past season. USC is back, and it proved that with a Rose Bowl victory over Penn State.
If you weren’t convinced then, take a look at how the Trojans finished out the 2017 recruiting cycle. They shot up from outside the top 10 to No. 5 overall and dominated the Pac-12 recruiting class rankings.
With that said, let’s take a look at the entire USC Trojans recruiting class from 2017, and hand out a few grades.
With the way Sam Darnold exploded onto the scene this past season, it’s highly unlikely he’ll return for his redshirt junior season in 2018. So, the Trojans needed to nab a quarterback in this class to provide some insurance, and they did that by flipping 4-star prospect Jack Sears from Duke.
Running Back: B
It’s the same situation with running backs in Los Angeles. Ronald Jones II, Dominic Davis and Aca’Cedric Ware won’t be around forever. But USC did a great job of holding onto 5-star halfback Stephen Carr.
Wide Receiver: A-
Fighting off Nebraska and Oregon to land 5-star wide receiver Joseph Lewis was a big move for Helton’s staff. It kept the Los Angeles native home but also managed to snag 3-star wide receiver Randal Grimes out of Las Vegas. When you consider that 4-star athlete Greg Johnson should see some time at wide receiver, USC did well here.
Tight End: A-
The fact the Trojans were able to keep 4-star tight end Josh Falo away from Oregon and UCLA, that goes to show the kind of momentum they had toward the end of the recruiting cycle. USC also added 3-star tight end Erik Krommenhoek out of Danville, California.
Offensive Line: A
USC had to fight off Arizona State, Texas A&M and Washington to land 5-star offensive tackle Austin Jackson, but it got the job done. Putting him next to 4-star offensive tackles Jalen McKenzie and Alijah Vera-Tucker is a big deal, and the Trojans tacked on 3-star offensive tackle Andrew Vorhees for good measure. Plus, having 4-star center Brett Neilon ties it all together.
Defensive Line: A+
Four-star defensive end Hunter Echols is the star of this group. Trojans fans can thank offensive coordinator Tee Martin for that one, oddly enough. He helped recruit the L.A. native. Three-star defensive end Jacob Lichtenstein had a longer way to travel, as he’s moving to Los Angeles from Weston, Florida. USC came up with two gems at defensive tackle when it flipped 4-star prospect Marlon Tuipulotu from Washington and snuck in past Ohio State and Utah for 5-star recruit Jay Tufele. Oh, and Helton’s guys also added 3-star defensive tackle Brandon Pili.
It was a great addition when USC got 4-star outside linebacker Juliano Falaniko, but when it beat out Florida and Florida State for 4-star outside linebacker Levi Jones, that set the tone on National Signing Day. Jones’ trolled the Gators and Seminoles by wearing a Trojans shirt under both their shirts when announced Wednesday morning. And 4-star inside linebacker Tayler Katoa helps balance this group out.
Defensive Backs: A+
As mentioned, Johnson can see time at wide receiver, but the staff plans to use him the same way it used Adoree’ Jackson. So, get ready for that. Three-star cornerback Je’Quari Godfrey is a solid player, but the headliners of this group are at the safety position. Four-star prospects Bubba Bolden and Isaiah Pola-Mao could quickly become the best safety duo in the entire country. They both hit hard. They’re both ballhawks, and both are ready to play right away. Plus, Pola-Mao has the pedigree, considering Troy Polamalu is his uncle.
USC Trojans Recruiting Class Overall Grade: A+
Note: Scout rankings and ratings used in this article.