The USC Trojans are not traditionally accustomed to being last at anything, but that is the reality of things in November of 2013. They are a program whose traditional luster has faded a bit and whose recent on-field results have been spotty. Without a long-term coach in place, they also can't sell recruits on anything particularly concrete, either.
With all of these factors in play, the Trojans currently possess the Pac-12's lowest-ranked class on the 247Sports composite, although that could easily change -- with just nine verbal commitments, USC has the conference's smallest class, as well.
There's some cause for optimism in Trojantown, though, as four of those nine decided to commit after Lane Kiffin was fired, a move that may have made the situation a bit more stable. Those players -- Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco receiver Shay Fields, Gardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra linebacker Olajuwon Tucker, Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne safety Uchenna Nwosu and Los Angeles (Calif.) Crenshaw wide receiver Ajene Harris -- are, interestingly enough, Southern California natives, and with the exception of Harris, all rated as three-stars on the 247Sports composite. Of this group, Fields might be a breakout candidate someday, as he has only recently begun to pick up buzz. He was a longtime commitment to Boise State before receiving interest from bigger programs.
The highlights of the class are all linemen, though. Guard Toa Lobendahn, tackle Jordan Poland and defensive end Malik Dorton are each four-stars on the 247Sports composite. Even better, all three rank among the top 25 players at their position this year.
Still to come -- Bud Elliott, National Recruiting Analyst
USC will be one of the most interesting teams to watch down the stretch because it does not have a head coach. What style of offense will the new coach run? Defense? Will he have existing relationships with Southern California high school coaches?
One thing is for sure: schools recruiting prospects from the USC area will not feel good about their commitments until the ink is dry, because USC is still the marquee school of the Pac-12 and recruits will give it a fresh look because of the name value.
Some local prospects will fit any system, however, including five-stars Adoree' Jackson (cornerback), Joe Mixon (running back), John JuJu Smith (safety), Damien Mama (offensive line), and four-stars Tyler Luatua (tight end) and Dwight Williams (linebacker).