USC was supposed to be dead. The Trojans were buried by what most feel were excessive penalties in the wake of the Reggie Bush ruling by the NCAA. But somehow Lane Kiffin and his staff have chugged right along on the recruiting trail, pulling in commitments as if those penalties never happened.
USC was forced to vacate wins, return a Heisman Trophy, be excluded from bowl games for two years and, most importantly, give up 30 scholarships over three years thanks to the Bush ruling. While we could argue about whether or not USC was treated fairly for days, one is certain: the sanctions haven’t slowed down the Trojan recruiting machine.
This weekend Kiffin’s staff hosted 18 official visitors, including some of the top prospects in the country. The Trojans finished the weekend by getting commitments from two former Stanford commits: running back Amir Carlisle and linebacker Anthony Sarao. With those additions, USC’s current class is ranked No. 4 in the nation by Rivals.com, and some big fish are still out there for Kiffin and co. Say what you want about his coaching ability, but no one has ever disputed that Kiffin is a dynamite recruiter.
USC currently also holds pledges from George Farmer (No. 4 overall player in the country according to Rivals), De’Anthony Thomas (No. 5), and two of the top four pro-style quarterbacks in the 2011 class (Cody Kessler and Max Wittek).
Currently the Trojans have 25 players committed. That number includes eight early enrollees, who actually count against last year’s class. That means the 2011 class could potentially have eight more signees.
How is that possible with the scholarship restrictions? Well, the Trojans have apparently made the shrewd decision to delay the scholarship sanctions while their appeal to the NCAA is pending. That way they can load up their roster before the sanctions take effect. Meaning they can have a full squad and not face the same problems they did last year when a few transfer defections decimated the roster.
Reading the reactions from recruits to their visit to the USC campus, apparently most don’t care about the sanctions. From most you hear the common refrain: “USC is still USC.” It makes you wonder if the sanctions will indeed have the desired effect of ripping the program apart and forcing it to build things up from scratch again.
Apparently Kiffin and his staff – which includes legendary recruiters Ed Orgeron and Kennedy Pola – have done an excellent job ensuring kids that the program will not suffer.
Again, regardless of what you think of Lane Kiffin, what he has done at USC so far (under horrific circumstances) has been very impressive.