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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California


National Signing Day 2013: The Day in Review

The day could have gone better for USC, but with five 5-star commitments, it also could have gone a lot worse.

Ed. Note: Click HERE for coach Lane Kiffin's Signing Day press conference.

Lane Kiffin addresses the media at the conclusion of National Signing Day. (ATVN)
Lane Kiffin addresses the media at the conclusion of National Signing Day. (ATVN)

After Wednesday’s events, which caused USC’s recruiting class to drop from its projected ranking of third in the nation to 14th, it may seem that there is little hope for improvement from last year's disappointing season for USC.  

USC took one blow after another, one of the worst being five-star cornerback Jalen Ramsey who flipped from USC to Florida State late last night. Then early this morning, five-star linebacker Matthew Thomas did the same.

Another great disappointment was the loss of a former early enrollee, defensive end Kylie Fitts, to cross town rival UCLA. Fitts was initially set to enroll at USC this spring, but his spot was offered at the last minute to Leon McQuay III, a five-star safety from Florida.

And the losses kept adding up. Four-star defensive end Torrodney Prevot and four-star defensive tackle Keith Bryant had USC hats on their tables during their selection, but committed to Oregon and Florida State, respectively.

“I think you’re seeing the nature of recruiting change,” said USC head coach Lane Kiffin. “It’s no longer cool to just stay committed and sign your letter.”

While today seemed to be full of losses, the USC Trojans snagged four-star outside linebacker Quinton Powell. Powell had been considering Florida, but was apparently told by the Gators they no longer had a spot for him. He chose USC over SEC powerhouses Florida, Arkansas, and South Carolina.

When asked about USC’s disappointing National Signing Day, Powell said, “Every time I heard about the decommitments, I shrugged it off. I just thought about myself. I wanted to commit based on my opinion of the school.”

The poor Signing Day showing was overshadowing of the Trojans tremendous class of early enrollees, who graduated high school early and are already on campus for spring practice. And those early enrollees are impressive. Five-star quarterback Max Browne should compete for the starting job next fall. He joins five-star defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow, five-star safety Su’a Cravens, safety McQuay III, four-star running back Justin Davis and four-star cornerback Chris Hawkins.

In addition to Powell, USC on Wednesday signed five-star running back Ty Isaac, four-star linebacker Michael Hutchings, four-star wide receiver Steven Mitchell, four-star offensive lineman Khaliel Rodgers, and four-star offensive lineman Nico Falah.

Even though USC’s 2013 recruiting class consists of only 12 players, all are ranked in the Rivals top 250 recruits. The five five-star commits are the most of any team in the country.

"When you go big-game fishing, you’re not gonna get a lot of them,” said Kiffin. “But they are big prizes.”

With scholarship limitations hindering USC’s recruiting for two more years, Kiffin and the coaching staff say they aim for quantity over quality in their recruiting classes.

“This is certainly a class of quality over quantity,” Kiffin said. “The talent in this class is second to none and so is their character.

“Our top-13 is better than anyone else’s top-13 and there’s really no arguing that,”

By only signing 12 out of a possible 17 players this year, USC can add those five unused scholarships to next year, allowing them to sign 20 players next fall instead of the NCAA-imposed limitation of 15.

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