USC has 62 players on scholarship, which means the Trojans can sign 23 players on Signing Day, which is Feb. 1. With 17 commitments (another three-star, offensive tackle Jalen McKenzie, committed Monday), the Trojans have six spots left.
They can still put together a top-five class according to the recruiting pundits. But eight of the 17 commitments are three-stars or two stars (seven three stars, one two stars). That seems odd. So apparently some five-star players should commit by Signing Day (like wide receiver Joseph Lewis, offensive tackle Austin Jackson) but I wonder what the bottom 10 players of the class will contribute? Some will despite the three-star ranking. Others will disappear.
But . . . how many will play? I randomly picked the year 2014 and checked USC’s three stars: Jalen Greene, Don Hill, John Plattenburg, Ajene Harris, Uchenna Nwosu, Malik Dorton, Jordan Austin and Lamont Simmons.
Hill and Simmons are no longer on the team. Nwosu is a starter. In 2-3 years, how many 3-stars will playing from the 2017 class?
One thing to note in recent years is how little feedback from the NFL seems to matter to underclassmen. During the Pete Carroll era, it seemed like a big deal when the NFL would send USC its evaluations and perhaps influence a player’s decision.
But this year, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Adoree Jackson seemed to care less about it. And Jackson is not listed in any mock drafts I’ve seen as a first-round pick. Last year, Su’a Cravens pretty much made up his mind well before the evaulation process. I think all of those players believed they were so good that they would become successful NFL players no matter where they got drafted.
But even players like Nickell Robey and Dion Bailey, who went undrafted, turned pro. It just seems like players simply go when they want to these days. And it’s still worth it financially. Cody Kessler wasn’t an underclass but he was a third-round pick and got a $3,4 million, four-year deal from the Browns. Not bad.
Cornerback Adoree Jackson announced he would skip his senior year and enter the NFL draft. Jackson waited until the final day to make his announcement but the decision is not a surprise. Now who will be the dynamic punt/kick returner next season? Who will provide solid-if-not-always spectacular cornerback play? Jack Jones? Jonathan Lockett? There is no quick fix.
Former USC player/assistant coach Kennedy Polamalu has been hired as running backs coach by the Minnesota Vikings, according to the Sporting News. Polamalu was fired as UCLA offensive coordinator after the past season.
Alabama has hired Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne as its new athletic director, according to multiple reports. Byrne was athletic director at Arizona since 2010 and also was the A.D. at Mississippi State. So Alabama hired an athletic director who actually had experience as an athletic director. What a concept!
Byrne’s name got floated during USC’s search for an athletic director last year but school president Max Nikias always wanted Lynn Swann so no one else had much of a chance. The USC way, as some in the athletic dept. tell me.