Lane Kiffin Announces USC 2011 Recruiting Class


The early version of a piece I wrote for Thursday’s Daily Trojan. Be sure to check out their website for extensive coverage of all USC sports and follow them on twitter @DT_sports

In his first full year of recruiting as USC’s head coach, Lane Kiffin continued the tradition of reeling in top-notch talent despite facing challenges. Some coaches at opposing schools read USC’s sanctions line-by-line to prospective recruits in order to dissuade them from signing with the Trojans, but the tactic appears to have failed.

USC announced the signing of twenty-three players for its 2011 class. The class consists of six defensive lineman, four offensive lineman, four linebackers, three wide receivers, two running backs, two defensive backs, one tight end, one punter in addition to the eight spring enrollees.

The Trojans had some flexibility in the number of players it could sign because of its pending appeal with the NCAA. Since USC signed a full class, the scholarship restrictions will not take effect until 2012 and will last through 2014.

Even with one year remaining on USC’s postseason ban, Kiffin reeled in the fourth best recruiting class in the country according to At one point, the class was ranked number one. The coach was quick to deflect praise away from himself, and instead, cite the aura of USC as the main reason. “It’s not me. I don’t care how good of a recruiter you are if you aren’t at a place like USC.” Kiffin said at a press conference to introduce his newest class. “USC is the only place with all that going on and all the ammo that everyone else had against [us] where you can get it done. It just speaks volumes about USC.”

With several areas of the depth chart relatively thin, Lane Kiffin and his staff made a point to fill it out.  “This class is very deep. It address a lot of needs,” Kiffn proclaimed. “We wanted to add a number of quality players and I know we didn’t reach. We could have added some other guys, but we wanted to make sure we got the right guys.”

Another focus of the USC staff was to build a wall around Southern California and keep control over the wealth of talent in the area. “As of right now, I think we did a pretty good job. Unfortunately we can’t get everybody every time,” Kiffin reflected. “I think our staff did pretty well. Obviously that was a big concern of ours to make sure that happened.” Athlete Marqise Lee (Gardena, Calif.), a four-star prospect, turned down Miami and followed in the footsteps of five-star wide receiver and high school teammate Victor Blackwell.

Of all of the recruits, Kiffin suggested that five-star wide receiver George Farmar (Los Angeles, Calif.) was most likely to make an immediate impact. The Trojans will need a replacement opposite of Robert Woods after the graduation of

Four-star defensive tackle Christian Heyward (San Diego, Calif.) turned down San Diego State  and Oregon in favor of USC. Heyward cited the NFL-caliber coaching staff at USC as the deciding factor, and many pundits suggest the ninth-ranked prospect is better than the rankings suggest.

Much like last year, Kiffin did an admirable job of recruiting the entire country and nabbing the services of several highly-touted recruits who were undecided heading into National Signing Day. Top-rated offensive guard Aundrey Walker (Cleveland, Ohio) spurned hometown favorite Ohio State to sign with the cardinal and gold. Of the out-of-state recruits, Lamar Dawson’s letter of intent came as the biggest surprise to Kiffin. “Local kids, California kids, you like to think you are going to get them. To go in to SEC country and get Lamar was a plesant surprised.

While the Trojans won some recruiting battles, they found themselves on the losing end of others. Offensive lineman Troy Niklas (Anaheim, Calif.) signed with rival Notre Dame, Defensive back Marcus Roberson (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) Florida.

Most notably, long-time commit De’Anthony Thomas of Crenshaw High reneged on his verbal pledge to USC and signed with Oregon. Thomas is the number one ranked athlete in the country and the fifth best prospect in the country according to

At the conclusion of National Signing Day, many recruiting services and media outlets declared USC one of the winners of the day. Moving forward, the roster will be full as the effect of the sanctions began to hit.