USC Recruiting Class of 2010: Where Are They Now? Part 3


Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

As they gear up for their senior year in Troy, we have been chronicling the whereabouts of USC’s Class of 2010, the first to be molded by Lane Kiffin.

First, we looked at the running backs and wide receivers that came to Troy in 2010. Then, we focused on the tight ends and a quarterback that also joined this bunch.

Now it’s time to turn our attention to the final group of young men that made up the Class of 2010–the defensive players.

Dion Bailey

Bailey came into USC ranked No. 31 at safety, but over the plast two seasons, was one of the most active members of then-defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s scheme as an outside linebacker. His thinner, lithe build made him ideal for getting after the agile wide receivers of the Pac-12, en route to 80 tackles, one sack, and a team-best four interceptions in 2012. As a redshirt freshman in 2011, he was named the Pac-12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year, and made the All-Pac-12 second team. With new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast at the helm, Bailey is going to move back to his natural position at safety, as soon as he finishes recovering from shoulder surgery to repair an injury he originally sustained in 2011. How he gets back into the swing of things as a safety is going to be one of the more interesting story lines come the fall.

Hayes Pullard

Pullard was the No. 53-ranked athlete, and it was even thought that he could start at fullback at one point. He would ultimately line up opposite Bailey as the Will linebacker, and as a redshirt freshman in 2011, had 81 tackles and two forced fumbles. He only got better from there: starting in all 13 games in 2012, racking up 107 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception on the season. He too is a ferocious tackler with a penchant for getting into the thick of the action. In 2013 he will line up as an inside linebacker in the 5-2 scheme, and is likely to be one of the defensive captains of the team.

Nickell Robey

Robey stayed true to his commitment to Lane Kiffin and followed him to Southern California when he left Tennessee in January of 2010, bringing with him a most heartbreaking story. Shortly after signing his LOI with USC, Robey’s mother died of heart failure. He since dedicated his collegiate career to her, and it turned into one any mother would be proud of. Robey became the first true freshman cornerback in the post-World War II era to start in a season opener for Troy, and from there became one of the best lock-down corners in the Pac-12. In 2011, Robey had 10 tackles, a deflection and returned a fourth quarter interception 33 yards for a touchdown against Andrew Luck and Stanford that sent the Coliseum into an absolute tizzy. Because his reputation preceded him, Robey didn’t have many opportunities to show is skill set in 2012, as opposing teams opted to throw away from his side of the field. After the season, he declared for the draft and was picked up as an undrafted free agent by the Buffalo Bills. His small size and lack of highlights last season may have worked against him in the draft, but based on his career at USC, Robey has proven that he can hang if given the opportunity.

George Uko

Regarded as the No. 5 defensive tackle in the class of 2010 when he came to USC, Uko has steadily improved each year leading up to this 2013 season. He started in all 13 games last season and had 31 tackles, a deflection, and even a fumble recovery for a touchdown. He returns as a starting interior lineman in 2013 and will be one of the pillars of the defensive line that Orgeron and Pendergast are grooming for the new-look 5-2 defense. He shifts from being a three-technique in the Monte Kiffin 4-3, to playing wider, as far as the five-gap in Clancy Pendergast’s scheme.

Anthony Brown

Brown was to be a go-to cornerback option for USC, and at times, he showed that he is capable of being part of the Trojans’ rotation in the secondary. He started part of 2011 and showed to be a much better tackler than fellow corner Torin Harris, though his coverage was hit or miss. Unfortunately, he went down with a broken ankle that season and didn’t see much action last year. 2013 will be a fresh start for Brown, as he is once again a legitimate contender for the starting job once fall camp arrives.

Demetrius Wright

Wright has been largely overshadowed in his time at USC by Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald, but now is his time to earn himself a spot in the starting rotation. He has seen limited time on the field over the past three years, but he has stayed the course at Troy nonetheless. He had a rather impressive spring, which culminated in him grabbing two interceptions in USC’s spring game. He will be competing against some significant talent in Leon McQuay III, as well as veteran Dion Bailey, among others for a starting spot in 2013.

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In all, 18 young men came to Troy in 2010, and of them, nine remain. Two others left USC early for the NFL, and the remaining six drifted from Troy for a number of reasons. If recruiting has taught us anything, it’s that no matter how exciting a prospect seems, none of it matters until he suits up on game day and leaves no doubt. In 2013, nine Trojans will begin their senior year, and end their quest of doing just that.