USC Football Recruiting: Setting the Defense of the Future


Not only did the Trojans get the fourth ranked safety in the nation on Wednesday in Max Redfield, USC was able to finally layout the defense of the future, due to a complete secondary within the Class of 2013. Taking strictly the Class of 2012 and 2013 into account, the Trojans can look ahead, with replacements for all 11 players who will be starting in 2012. Let’s break it down by unit.

Defensive Line

We’ve mentioned before that Eddie Vanderdoes is best called a defensive lineman, than strictly a tackle or an end. He’s played both positions, as well as nose guard at Placer High with success, and gives USC options, although his body size suggests a permanent home on the interior of the line.

The Monte Kiffin defense calls for a nose guard and a tackle playing the three gap, or the three technique. With Kenny Bigelow also on the line, the likely scenario is that Vanderdoes lines up at the zero gap, as the nose guard, while Bigelow fills in the three.

On the ends, by default, Leonard Williams and Kylie Fitts fit into place. If you want to break it down further, Leonard Williams could slot into the strongside a little easier due to his size and strength, while Kylie Fitts would line up as the weakside defensive end.


Here’s where it gets interesting, as Jabari Ruffin, Scott Starr and Michael Hutchings have all been recruited as outside linebackers. However, Scott Starr’s spring saw him move into the middle, as he played the Mike behind Lamar Dawson. With Starr playing in the middle, it enables Ruffin to stay at his natural position at strongside linebacker, where he can play both the run and the pass, with ability to play man coverage on the opposing tight end.

As for the Will, without a doubt, that’s the spot that fits Michael Hutchings the best. Due to the style of play of the weakside linebacker, such as playing behind the play and the need to drop into pass coverage more, Hutchings’s abilities as a linebacker/safety combo player fits perfectly.


Redfield and Cravens have the abilities to play both safety spots, but back in June at the Rising Stars camp at USC, Redfield lined up as the free safety, while Cravens played on the strongside. Cravens’ ability to play linebacker in addition to safety allows him to defend the run from the strong safety spot, and mold into that hybrid-safety role that became famous by Troy Polamalu.

At corner, both Chris Hawkins and Jalen Ramsey are practically interchangeable in the debate of who they would cover. Both are stellar cover men, with Hawkins having a solid performance with interceptions at the Rising Stars Camp, while Ramsey stole the show at the Rivals 100 Five Star Challenge.

We’ll break down the offensive tomorrow.