2015 USC Football Recruiting Class Preview: Defensive Backs


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Last year’s squad of reinforcements at cornerback mean the Trojans now have more options than ever.

Returning starters senior Kevon Seymour and sophomore Adoree’ Jackson are supplemented by redshirt sophomore Chris Hawkins, who has starting experience.

Veterans role-players like Devian Shelton, a redshirt junior, and Ryan Dillad, a redshirt senior and former walk on, provide depth along with young up-and-comers like sophomore Jonathan Lockett and redshirt freshman Lamont Simmons.

The picture is much more sparse at safety, where junior Leon McQuay III and sophomore John Plattenburg hold up the fort.

So what do the incoming recruits at defensive back have to add?

Who’s In?

Isaiah Langley, a four-star out of Pleasanton, is a talented two-way player like many of the recruits at this position the Trojans have pulled in lately. At USC, however, he’s slated to play cornerback where he could contribute early with the right circumstances.

Ykili Ross, a four-star out of Riverside Poly, is yet another two-way guy, except he has a legitimate opportunity to slot in on defense or offense. Rated as the No. 15 player in the state of California, Ross is a pure athlete and will be fighting for playing time wherever he lands.

Marvell Tell, a four-star out of Crespi, can be penciled in as an instant competitor. Tell’s athleticism gives him the ability to play corner as well, but it’s the size and physicality he brings which will see him thrive over the middle as a safety.

Who Could Be In?

Iman Marshall, a five-star out of Long Beach Poly, is the number one player in California for good reason. Tall, strong, physically and mentally gifted, Marshall is one of the “can’t miss” prospects of this recruiting class and word on the street has him leaning USC’s way.

Jan 2, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Team Highlight defensive back Iman Marshall (8) runs on to the field during the introductions at the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Jay Wilson, a four-star out of Valencia, was offered a place at USC as a blue shirt, which means his scholarship would count towards next years class even though he would enroll in the fall. Wilson has been offered D1 scholarships as a tailback, wide receiver, tight end, linebacker and safety, which speaks to his incredible versatility. The Trojans may be too late the game to land him though.

Who’s Out?

The Trojans brought in four-star corner DeChaun Holiday, four-star athlete Donte Jackson and five-star corner Kendall Sheffield for official visits in the fall but the trio have settled on other destinations.

Sheffield committed to Alabama in January, Jackson picked LSU last week and Holiday appears set to choose between Arizona State and UCLA.


USC could end up with an embarrassment of riches if Iman Marshall picks up the cardinal and gold hat on Signing Day, but even if the Trojans miss out on him the defensive backs in this class are excellent additions to a unit which seems to get stronger each year.

Still, everything comes back to Marshall, who is a candidate for an instant starting role on talent alone, even though Seymour and Jackson seem to have to two CB spots locked down. Conveniently, Marshall’s addition could open the door for more two-way action for Jackson if the Trojans had yet another shutdown option on the field.

Tell may not start ahead of Plattenburg or McQuay, but it is hard to believe he won’t be a regular part of the safety rotation right away.

Like Jackson, Ross is an X-factor kind of player. In fact it would not be surprising to see Ross put on the same path Jackson was in the beginning, with cameo roles on both sides of the ball growing as the season continues.