Marlon Tuipulotu’s flip from Washington to USC football is the first, and perhaps biggest, domino to fall in the final stretch of the 2017 recruiting cycle.
It’s appropriate on every level to call Marlon Tuipulotu’s decision to swap his commitment from Washington to USC huge.
At 6-foot-2, 295 pounds, Tuipulotu is certainly a large human being. But he’s also a big time pick up for the Trojans who were in desperate need of reinforcements on the defensive line this recruiting cycle.
Though USC found a diamond in the rough bringing in graduate transfer defensive tackle Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, his graduation, coupled with the transfer of Noah Jefferson and Khaliel Rodgers, left the Trojans with questionable depth in the trenches.
USC secured the commitments of three-star prospects Jacob Lichtenstein, Terrance Lang and Brandon Pili, but still lacked a marquee commit on the defensive line, particularly at tackle.
Tuipulotu is that marquee guy, ranking fifth nationally at defensive tackle in the 247Sports composite. In fact, 247Sports recently upgraded Tuipulotu to a five-star and rated him as their No. 1 DT for 2017.
There’s no questioning Tuipulotu’s ability. As a competitive wrestler, he understands leverage. He’s quick, explosive, athletic and ready to contribute.
While it would be expecting too much of any freshman to start and excel right away, especially in the trenches, Tuipulotu should be in line to get early playing time.
If he successfully enrolls for the spring semester as expected, that possibility of early playing time would be increased. The advantage of participating in spring camp could be a critical part in getting Tuipulotu ready for the 2017 slate from the start.
In other words, he’s exactly the prospect USC needed to add some shine to their defensive line haul, as a player with enough ability and polish to solve problems from Day 1.
The best part is, Tuipulotu might be key to adding even more luster to the class.
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Tuipulotu has forged a strong relationship with fellow USC target Jay Tufele, a four-star defensive tackle out of Utah.
The duo officially visited USC this past weekend and Tufele tweeted pictures of the two of them together in the Trojan facilities.
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If Tuipulotu’s presence gives Tufele another reason to pick USC over the hometown Utes, the Trojans could double up their recruiting victory.
There’s another factor making Tuipulotu’s flip supremely important: USC’s gain is Washington’s loss, and in the zero-sum game that is recruiting, that’s a big deal.
The Huskies appear to be the Trojans’ biggest rival for the Pac-12 crown going forward. Stealing their top-rated recruit with a week left in the recruiting cycle is a crushing blow.
USC still has work to do for the 2017 class with nine days remaining and six spots left to fill, but landing Tuipulotu is a perfect way to begin the home stretch towards Signing Day.