For the longest time, a bevy of three-star recruits and USC decommits had many concerned with the Trojans 2017 recruiting class. Where did all of the departures sign? Who did Clay Helton’s staff sign in their place?
Clay Helton has put the finishing touches on a Top 5 recruiting class, despite a sluggish start full of USC decommits and three-star recruits, neither of which brought much excitement.
But the lesson of recruiting told every single year rung true again: Just wait until Signing Day. Everything will work out for both USC and their former commitments.
That’s exactly what happened, as the departures of three-stars were replaced with four and five-stars like Joseph Lewis and Jay Tufele, the cherries on a top of a sensational class.
Here’s a look at the recruits who didn’t make the Trojans’ haul:
Graham, the 10th-ranked cornerback in the 247Sports Composite, was one of USC’s first commitments, giving his verbal to the Trojans in the summer of 2015.
But unlike his Ground Zero teammate Stephen Carr, USC just didn’t continue to stay in the picture after their joint re-opening of the commitments early last year. Graham committed to Oregon in December, and was able to enroll two weeks later as an early admit for the Ducks.
When he committed to the Trojans in 2015, it looked like Amari Rodgers would be around for the long haul. He’s Tee Martin’s son after all. But ultimately the 15th-ranked receiver opened up his commitment early in 2016 and landed at national champion Clemson.
A two-way lineman, James Lynch committed to the Trojans over the summer. But he’d fall off after his high school season, opening his commitment and pledging to the Baylor Bears in early January. He signed with BU on Signing Day.
Without Lynch, USC had the room to close with a bang on the defensive line, signing Marlon Tuipulotu and Jay Tufele, two of the nation’s top five interior linemen.
A three-star project with high upside, C.J. Miller nearly made it to the end with the Trojans, having been committed since June. But he decommitted on January 18th, before signing with Ole Miss over the likes of Lane Kiffin’s FAU and Charlie Strong’s UCF.
The Trojans were able to replace him in the class with four-star safety Isaiah Pola-Mao out of Phoenix, Ariz.
It’s not often you see a player decommit from USC and immediately flip to Indiana. But that’s what happened when Juwan Burgess opted for the Hoosiers on January 20th.
Luckily for the Trojans, there won’t be too much egg on their face, as they replaced him in the class with four-star athlete Greg Johnson out of Hawkins High School in Los Angeles.
Tee Martin was in on his hometown’s Marlon Williams from the beginning, leading some to make comparisons to the 2016 signing of Mobile area native Velus Jones. But Williams’ recruitment opened up in early January with the SEC said to be looming. He wound up signing with UCF after taking official visits to LSU and Georgia Tech.
Without him in the class, the Trojans were able to have the room to sign five-star wide receiver Joseph Lewis.
Three-star cornernack Wylan Free, the 110th-ranked player in California, gave the Trojans a verbal commitment over the summer after appearing on campus for USC’s recruiting camps.
He stuck to his verbal until after his senior season at Carson, opening his recruitment on December 8th. Free subsequently committed to and signed with Fresno State.
After being committed to the Trojans since May 2016, Daniel Green’s December decommitment looked to be concerning. At the time at least, given how the 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker was a need for USC’s linebacker-thin roster.
TRENDING: Tracking USC’s 2017 Signing Day Activity
But the Trojans closed with linebackers Tayler Katoa of Utah and Levi Jones from Texas, while re-affirming the commitment of American Samoa outside linebacker Juliano Falaniko.
With USC out of the picture, Green officially visited Utah, Ole Miss and Kansas State before putting on a purple cap on Signing Day for K-State.