While Trojan fans may not be excited about USC’s impending appearance in El Paso, TX for the Hyundai Sun Bowl, they can get hyped for National Signing Day, when the Trojans will usher in the next generation of the program. USC’s class of 2013 is chock full of top talent and if it continues to hold, the future looks bright indeed for the Trojans. There are many players worth highlighting in this incoming freshman class, but there are a select few that are poised to make the most immediate impact for the Trojans:
S Su’a Cravens
Cravens is obviously the top recruit in USC’s class, that much is certain. But beyond that, he is also the top safety in the country and the No. 1 player in both California and the Western Region. When the 6-foot-1, 205-pound safety wasn’t racking up stats during his senior year, he was selling USC to other recruits, as he is the kind of athlete that makes others want to play with him. He commands a physical presence on the field and he is ready to suit up for college now, convenient for USC as he plans to enroll in January. The Trojans lose both veteran safeties T.J. McDonald and Jawanza Starling, as well as a few senior backups, so Cravens’ transition into the Trojan defense is critical to USC reestablishing a strong secondary. Of course, where he ultimately lines up is yet to be determined, as the Trojans are still shopping around for a new defensive coordinator. His lithe build suggests he could move to linebacker if ever tasked with doing so, like former safety Dion Bailey–who has excelled as an outside linebacker–did in the Monte Kiffin system. At either position, Cravens will provide new life and power to the Trojan defense that we did not see enough of in 2012. He is one of the anchors of this 2013 recruiting class, and with him, the Trojan ship stays afloat.
CB Jalen Ramsey
If there is one position USC always seems to have a shortage of, it’s cornerbacks. The Trojans haven’t fielded a strong CB duo in years, and with the potential early departure of Nickell Robey, USC is going to be hurting for guys who can get the job done at that position. That’s where Ramsey comes in: his ball-hawking skills, agile hips, and coverage skills are exactly what USC needs to replace Robey. If Robey stays, then this duo could prove to be deadly for opposing offenses. Ramsey stands six feet tall and weighs just under 200 pounds, touting ideal size to excel at the next level. His thirst to get after plays will bring a new element to the Trojan secondary, a group that has been lackluster and uninspiring season after season. Like Cravens, Trojan fans could expect to see Ramsey have an early debut with Troy.
RB Ty Isaac
With workhorse Curtis McNeal graduating the year, the Trojans once again find themselves without a reliable backup running back. Tre Madden will return from injury, and D.J. Morgan clawed his way out of Kiffin’s doghouse to prove himself in the latter half of the season, but having Isaac on roster will go a long way in terms of bolstering depth. He will be competing with classmate Justin Davis for playing time, but Isaac is slightly taller and bulkier than Davis is and could create a solid, physical tandem with Silas Redd.
DT Eddie Vanderdoes
Vanderdoes is another guy who is ready to go for USC as soon as he enrolls. He brings a fierceness and intensity to the defensive line that will fit well with current Trojans like DE Morgan Breslin and breakout star DT Leonard Williams, as well as the always fired up D-Line coach, Ed Orgeron. He is extremely athletic, and the skills he brings to the table, coupled with fellow newcomers like Kenny Bigelow, could mean prolific years ahead for the Trojan defensive line. Current Trojans Antwaun Woods, George Uko, and Williams are above Vanderdoes on the depth chart, and Bigelow will also serve as competition, but he could still see a respectable amount of playing time in 2013.
WR Steven Mitchell
Assuming Robert Woods leaves for the NFL, Steven Mitchell is ready to serve as the Trojans’ No. 3 receiver, behind Marqise Lee and Nelson Agholor. He would also more than likely be the de facto punt returner if both Woods and Robey leave, having demonstrated a knack for tearing through special teams. His senior year alone, Mitchell garnered more than 230 yards from kick returns alone, including a 90-yard return to the house. If tasked with either filling into the wide receiver rotation or special teams duty, Mitchell is poised to be the next big thing out of the Trojan wide receiver corps.