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|02-08-2014, 02:18 PM||#1|
C2 Presents: A 2014 Breakdown
The Statistics (per Rivals)
Players signed by state:
AL - 1 (4.8%)
FL - 4 (19%)
GA - 5 (23.8%)
KS - 1 (JUCO) (4.8%)
SC - 9 (42.9%)
TX - 1 (JUCO) (4.8%)
Total = 21
Analysis: First thing that stood out to me is that USC signed no players from the state of North Carolina. That is quite baffling given USCís proximity to the city of Charlotte and the fertile recruiting grounds around there. If you want to count Abu Lamin as a NC recruit I guess it would be hard to argue as would saying Jhaustin Thomas is a GA recruit. But as a result of Jay Graham and Brad Lawingís departures, it seems like we have lost any pulse that we once had in that area. Thats got to be something that needs to be changed going forward. A key to sustained success during and after Spurrier is to hit the two closest major cities, Charlotte and Atlanta, hard. We are fairing pretty well in Atlanta and now its time to get things going in Charlotte. Itíll be interesting to see how Deke does there in Year 2 and/or if the staff makes some changes in who recruits there.
Also didnít get anything from the Northeast but that isnít really surprising to me given the tight numbers and the position USC was in for more local prospects. Unless Coach Mangus is locked in on one like he was with Damiere Byrd, Kaiwan Lewis, David Williams, Brendan Nosovitch, and NaíTy Rodgers I donít expect much from up there as long as the local talent is pretty good. Coach Mangus did however do a great job with Damian Prince but in the end it just wasnít a good fit for either party.
With that being said, its extremely positive that almost half of the class is instate. Coach Elliott deserves a huge amount of credit as he reeled in 5 of the 9 instate signees. USC also made a great run on Georgia kids all of which, surprisingly to me when I looked closer, are 4 star players! Great work by Coach Ward, Coach Mangus, and Coach Brown there this year.
Players Signed By Coaches:
Coach Elliott - 5
Coach Ward - 4
Coach Adams - 4
Coach Brown - 4
Coach Spurrier, Jr. - 3
Coach Mangus - 3
Coach Sands - 2
Coach Robinson - 1
Coach Botkin - 1
*Some coaches co-recruited a signee.
Analysis: Well first and for most, Coach Elliott has turned into a recruiting machine. The guy is starting to develop the magic touch with instate kids. Coach Ward continues to chug along in Atlanta and surprisingly, IMO, Coach Adams had a nice first full year on the recruiting trail. He is a guy that should get even better in Year 2. Coach Mangus only signed 3 but all of his were 4 star players. He is just a beast. Quality over quantity this year for him. Spurrier, Jr. was headed for only 2 signees until McClain flipped. He gets a lot of credit for that happening. But even still, it seems like he has lost that mini pipeline in Jacksonville since FSU returned to power. It also has been a tough battle for him in the Low Country recently. Whether it be with kids that choose childhood favors or highly rated kids that we just donít think are good enough to pursue.
Iíve said it before, the running backs coach should never be at the bottom of these types of lists. He has got to step it up. Thats all I want to say about that.
Coach Robinson, other than Elliott Fry, what has he exactly done for us? I am very disappointed by the results we have received so far from that guy both on the field and on the recruiting trail. He had a solid resume coming from UNC and he has a background as a recruiting coordinator. I donít think USC has him in very difficult spots to recruit either. It would be one thing if his Special Team unit was playing well. Just expected a little bit more from that guy I guess. He does deserve some credit for turning the tide in Kevin Crosbyís recruitment, however.
Mixed emotions about Coach Botkin. He has proven to be a much better coach and talent recognizer than I thought he would be and he has some of the toughest recruiting territories in the Southeast. Expectations for him probably have to be tempered a bit and if he can grab a kid or two like Taylor Stallworth every cycle, maybe thats a reasonable goal. But then again, expectations probably should be raised in Year 3 because if he could grab some of those studs in his recruiting territories, it could given USC that extra push to get to the top of the mountain.
1) This is the most 4 stars (10) that USC has signed since 2009
2) USC used 25 official visits (will be 26 when McClain visits soon). Signed 21 players (Missed on Berrios, Scott, Are, Prince, and Gibson). Thats 81%. Not bad.
3) I read on another site that 9 of USCís commitments had offers from Alabama.
4) USC signed 4 of the Top 10 in state. Interesting enough, 5 of the top 10 went out of state. Not a good look for USC or Clemson on paper but the kids that did leave, either didnít have a USC offer or werenít priorities.
Position Group Grading (A, B, C, D, F)
Quarterback - D
Probably going to get some push back for this but Michael Scarnecchia was a reach. I understand that Spurrier made the call to pull the trigger on Dylan Thompson and that seems to be working out but he has also missed on a lot of kids that he has personally offered as well. Its not that I think Scarnecchia is a bad player either. If USC was looking for an insurance policy incase Mitch or Nosovitch transferred after this Spring then OK. Also, Garrick McGee originally had his verbal commitment and Garrick knows a thing or two about quarterbacks but I feel like in the end USC couldíve saved that scholarship and signed 2 guys in 2015 with better talent or used his scholarship to sign a 4th receiver and or 3rd offensive lineman in 2014. Iím being severely over critical, and the coaches know a hell of a lot more than I do; but given the success of Connor Shaw and even the little bit Stephen Garcia had before him, to the signing of highly regarded prospects Brendan Nosovitch and Connor Mitch, and nearly grabbing an Elite 11 QB from a state that we hardly ever recruit .. I just felt like this was a let down. I suppose I expect Mangus/Spurrier to take QB recruiting up a notch and find a Connor Mitch every cycle. I hope Scarnecchia surprises the heck out of me and itíll be interesting seeing how his career unfolds compared to some of the guys we passed on this cycle.
Wide Receiver - B
I like what USC has put together on paper although there is only one guy that has extensive time at receiver. But with that being said, its hard to argue the track record the staff has at turning high school QBís into dependable receivers (McKinley, Ellington) so I think the odds of Shaq Davidson and Terry Googer turning into good football players too are pretty good. I think Davidson is going to be more of a project than people expect. Reportedly, he looked horrible running routes in the Shrine Bowl and the Army combine from people that were at the event. He is probably a guy that needs 2 years of heavy polish before he is a regular contributor. Possibly the staff uses him as a gadget guy early on to get the ball in his hands like they did with Pharaoh Cooper. If Shaq is plugged into that roll, maybe it allows Pharaoh to focus more on becoming a better Z receiver. Got a good feeling that Googer turns into a very nice possession B receiver at the next level. GREAT frame, could probably grow into a big time Tight End down the road. He was drawing some Alshon comparisons with his smoothness running routes and using his length to make difficult catches look easy over the last Summer. The third member of the trio, Deebo Samuel, is probably one of my favorite players of the class. He is without question the most ready to play right now and we need some more pop in our receiving corp with Ace Sanders no longer here. I look at our receiving corp and I donít see that guy that will make someone miss and I think Samuel will bring that as early as his freshman season. He just has that look of a Spurrier receiver to me when watching his tape.
Offensive Line - B
I put this as a B not because of the players USC signed but because I donít see where Coach Elliott is addressing his offensive tackle situation. I look at the current roster and I donít see any one in the wings ready to step up and be starting SEC tackles when Corey Robinson and Brandon Shell leave. Maybe Mason Zandi is going to turn into a very good player or Gibson & Matulis will both still be here but this has potential to be a big, big problem. The last thing we need is guards playing tackle and with a slow(er) footed QB. Not a good combination in this conference with the defenses that are being assembled or are assembled at UF, UGA, UT, and even UK.
Now, as to the players USC did sign, they did a great job at getting two of best in state and once again Coach Elliott is adding more athletic guards to the arsenal. Donell Stanley will have his eyes set on the vacant LG spot when AJ Cann graduates. Probably going to need a redshirt right away to trim the body up some but he should be a guy that slides onto the depth chart very soon at one of the guard spots. Malik Young is a player that should develop nicely in 2 or 3 years. After a strong showing in the postseason camps, its an offer that turned out to be a really good decision by the coaching staff.
Tight End / H-Back / Fullback - B
I LOVE Kevin Crosby as a prospect .. just on the defensive side of the football. I think he would make an excellent collegiate Linebacker or SPUR. I just donít see where he is going to get the football enough to make an impact on offense. With Anderson graduating, Adams probably leaving, and Owens being an unknown, maybe he sees an opportunity next year but I think he would waste away being an ĎH-Backí. On the flip side, I think Joe Blue is going to be an excellent Fullback for us. He should be a great goal line back and he can probably help some in the passing game. Hopefully he can add a dimension to our offense like the fullbacks at Georgia, LSU, etc etc do to their respective offenses. Something else that isnít noticeable to some but the addition of these two players allow us to stay flexible in our formation choices. We can go I-Back with Blue or shotgun with Crosby.
Defensive Line - A (could go down to a D depending on qualifiers)
This is a love/hate group of players right here. Love the fact that USC was able to grab the caliber of players like Jhaustin Thomas, Dexter Wideman, Dante Sawyer, Blake McClain, Abu Lamin, Taylor Stallworth, and Kalan Ritchie. All of those guys have very bright futures. However, I hate it that its possible only THREE of that group are even on the team next year. We are going to have to sweat out Wideman and Sawyer. So much conflicting information about where they stand in the classroom right now. Jhaustin Thomas apparently has to take an online course to make it here in Summer II. How often has that worked out in our favor? Kalan Ritchie is on the bubble as well although he might be a guy that prep school might be a good thing for. My main point is that this promising class could really be a disappointment if they donít handle their business in the classroom.
On the field you have to like what every one of those guys bring to the fold. I think Lamin is our next NFL drafted defensive lineman. He should either be a starter or getting heavy snaps in the rotation this season with the vacant spot Kelcy Quarles left. He is a guy that is drawing heavy Kendrick Ellis comparisons and its easy to see why. He is just a disruptive force in the middle and might be one of our most athletic defensive tackles in a long time. Dante Sawyer would be a big boost with his excellent motor and the fact that he is probably a more talented pass rusher than Gerald Dixon. At the very least if he got here he would be rotating in with the second unit and used on 3rd downs. Dexter Wideman and Kalan Ritchie are probably guys that could take a redshirt to develop some more physically. I donít see where they would be needed to play right away but getting them into the program now instead of next year would be a positive. We already know Wideman is potential stud but its a numbers game right now at DE if all of these guys get into school so someone(s) has to sit out and its my personal opinion that Sawyer is the better player right now. It could very well end up going the other way. Ritchie really did some damage at defensive end for Goose Creek. Some folks that I talked to feel like he can possibly become something like what Devin Taylor was. He is still very much a raw prospect but the upside at the DE position is very exciting and not only that, its something he has bought into. Given the other members of this class and what is potentially on tap at DE for 2015, Iím not sure if he is ever a starter at USC but he could be a very dependable backup and situational player. Thomas is the guy that has got to make it in. He quite possibly might have a starting spot waiting for him in the Fall. If that isnít motivation then I donít know what is. Tremendous pass rusher, great wingspan, and can run. I find it interesting that no one talks about his high school offer sheet that consisted of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, etc. This guy is a big time talent and is very likely an immediate answer to our potential pass rush woes this season. Taylor Stallworth is one of those guys that is going to sneak up on people in a couple of years. Much like JT Surratt did. Love the size and athleticism he brings to the table. Probably needs to trim up a bit but a redshirt year should help with that. Finally, I donít know a ton about Blake McClain but his offer sheet is stout and he looks like he already has the build to be a solid Strong Side defensive end right away. He is a guy that appears he could be a DT candidate down the line too given that he is already listed at 280. Iíll have to do some more research and find some more information about him. I know I was excited when he flipped because there arenít many defensive line prospects out there with Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State offer sheets.
USC really needed to re-stock at Defensive End and theyíre half way away from doing just that.
Linebackers - A
Bryson Allen-Williams is big time folks. There isnít anything I can say that hasnít already been said about him. Down the road, it appears like he could be a candidate to play some defensive end depending on how he fills out physically. He really grew from his Junior season to his Senior year. Iím typically more pessimistic when it comes to predicting which true freshman play right away but I really feel like this kid is going to find his way on the two deep at MIKE or WILL this Fall. He has great range, can rush the passer better than most of our current guys, and has really turned himself into a Ďfuture face of USC footballí when he chose to stick with USC over Alabama. We didnít need to sign a linebacker this class given our current youth but if they had to sign one, he is about as good as you can do and makes a promising group even better.
Defensive Backs - A
While its very unoriginal, the Legion of Boom is the hashtag moniker this 5 man crew used during its official visit weekend. My goodness what a great group of prospects this has turned out to be. Every spot in the secondary was addressed. The staff found three pure cover Corners in Chris Lammons, Wesley Green, and Al Harris. They found the future BS/SS in Darin Smalls (Darian Stewart written all over him) and the future FS in DJ Smith. I remember Grady Brown being interviewed after a practice late in the year and the reporters were grilling him about the Secondary and he pretty much said we had to upgrade our back end. The staff took a big step in doing that in this class.
The most intriguing prospect in this group for me is DJ Smith. He is going to end up a Safety eventually with his incredible range, and physically (as seen from the picture above) he is the most ready right now. Ryan Bartow @ 247Sports said he thought that DJ was the 2nd best defensive back in Georgia this year. I think he will be asked in to step in a boundary corner this year though out of necessity because we really donít have anyone across from Rico McWilliams. But I expect him to eventually move behind (or even next to) Chaz Elder after his freshman year to make room for guys like Al Harris and Chris Lammons.
The battle between Wesley Green, Chris Lammons, and Al Harris will be intense. Green and Harris MIGHT be a little further along that Lammons because he was a high school QB but I donít think its any question that Lammons is the best athlete of the group. I think Green is almost a lock to play this year and Harris (if he is recovered from his hamstring tear) will give the staff a lot to think about but he might be someone that does well with an redshirt season to make sure his leg is right and to bulk up a bit.
I think its almost certain Darin Smalls will redshirt although Iím interested to see an update on how he is recovering from his injury. While he is capable of playing corner, I think its pretty much a forgone conclusion that he heads to Boundary/Strong Safety. He gets overlooked by the message boards in my opinion.
Defensively, the class is about as solid as one could hope for. All needs were addressed and there are some definitely talent upgrades on the way. Offensively, I donít see any early difference makers other than possibly Stanley on the offensive line and Deebo Samuel. There are good players on that side of the ball donít get me wrong but just nothing that makes you say wow right now. Guys like Derrell Scott, Braxton Berrios, Drew Barker, Bentley Spain .. they couldíve really made that offensive side of the ball stand out. Luckily, great skill players are available every cycle and now that USC is back to 25/85, they should be able to entertain more prospects on that side of the ball. I am somewhat surprised that they didnít really push hard for a 4th receiver.
With that being said its really interesting how our classes have been structured the past 3-4 years. Really heavy on defense and on the lines of scrimmage. We kind of cherry pick around for a couple 4 star players at the skill positions every cycle but we havenít gone heavy at RB or WR in a long time. I think the staff has done a good job at not letting one side of the ball outweigh the other in numbers although it got pretty dicey at one point in the secondary and defensive line after all the attrition this past year. I attribute a lot of this to the NCAA penalties and I give the staff kudos for managing the scholarship restrictions AND the official visit restrictions.
Itíll be interesting to see how the staff builds their classes now that they are back to a 25/85 schedule. I donít think a whole bunch will change but I think 2015 is the year where the offensive side of the ball FINALLY gets a big rebuild. Almost every position on that side of the ball are due for a upgrade. This should lead to a very highly ranked class, IMO. Assuming 25, I think itíll probably look something similar to this:
QB - 1
RB - 2
WR - 4
TE - 2
OL - 5
DL - 4
LB - 3
DB - 4
Total - 25