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October 4, 2012
Commits to visit, but Trojans won't fret
USC is in the enviable position of having Rivals.com's top-rated recruiting class. The Trojans' future appears as bright as the L.A. sun.
USC boasts five five-star prospects, more than the next seven schools in the rankings combined, and two more than any other squad in the country.
There are no three-star prospects in the USC class, which means 13 of them are four-star recruits.
Coach Lane Kiffin and his relentless staff have dominated in-state recruiting and also cherry-picked top players from Illinois, Kentucky, two from Maryland, two from Texas, Washington and Tennessee.
Everything is going great.
"On paper we have all our spots locked up for the most part," said five-star quarterback Max Browne.
"With de-commitments and stuff, you never know. I'm sure I'll be talking to a few kids (at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl) and letting them know USC is the school for them. It was the school for me and I'll tell them why I chose it."
There is that dreaded word: de-commitment.
Everything is so nicely wrapped up, but recruiting is sometimes a peculiar and heart-wrenching expedition.
That could especially be the case for this USC recruiting class, since so many of its commits plan to take other visits.
After talking with numerous sources, the consensus is that most of the pledges who plan to hit the road leading up to National Signing Day will stick with the Trojans.
But there are always a few stragglers who flip.
For example, Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy teammates Khaliel Rodgers and Kenny Bigelow are not allowed to take official visits, but Rodgers attended the Maryland-West Virginia game and there are rumors an unofficial visit to Auburn by both players could happen.
A trip to Cal is planned though.
The feeling is that Louisville will make a run at four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher, a hometown guy from at Trinity High, and so the Cardinals need to be watched in his recruitment, especially if their season continues to go well.
Sebastian LaRue, a four-star from Santa Monica, Calif., has expressed his desire to take visits. Schools from across the country continue to recruit him.
Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite four-star receiver Eldridge Massington tore his anterior cruciate ligament and will miss his entire senior season after working out at Tennessee's camp this summer.
Four-star defensive back Jalen Ramsey from Nashville Brentwood Academy is being courted by numerous SEC schools. He's already taken some trips, too.
To finish things off, four-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes is looking to visit LSU and Cal and possibly take his two other trips as well.
By no means is this to imply that USC's recruiting class is falling apart.
But this is a wake-up call that the phenomenal class the Trojans have put together could lose a few recruits.
Four-star linebacker Michael Hutchings has been busy with his own season at Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, so he's not quite sure how serious any of the USC commits are about taking trips.
"I haven't talked to any guys really during the season," Hutchings said. "The last time I talked to guys was at the end of camp season and then once everything started going I haven't talked to many of them."
This is not rare to USC, either. Programs across the country deal with de-commitments, soft verbals, guys looking around.
It's just that the Trojans seem to have an inordinate amount of commits taking trips this recruiting cycle.
It's also the beauty of USC recruiting.
When a four- or five-star prospect flips to another school, the Trojans are right there to replace him quickly.
Lots of top players want to play at USC, so if there are some defections it shouldn't be hard to fill that spot instantaneously.
Players, the best among them, jump at that chance.
Hutchings, Browne and some other firm commits don't seem too worried about it.
"I know some guys are taking some visits just to maybe see some other schools," Hutchings said. "I think some are going to see some schools and maybe one or two is looking around and interested in someplace else."
So why mess up a good thing?
"Yep," Hutchings said. "Exactly."