Michigan tight end Devin Asiasi is officially on the transfer market, Jim Harbaugh announced Tuesday, but is he a viable option to join USC football?
Last year, Devin Asiasi was a major recruiting target for USC football’s 2016 recruiting class — one the Trojans missed out on to Michigan on Signing Day.
Now, the young tight end is back on the market with USC once again standing as a potential landing spot.
Jim Harbaugh confirmed what had been rumored for weeks on Tuesday, telling MLive.com that the freshman is set to transfer.
From the beginning, rumors of Asiasi’s desire to transfer included the belief that he intended to return home to California. So naturally, USC and UCLA, who were finalists for Asiasi’s signature as a high school recruit, stood out as possible destinations.
Do the Trojans really have a shot at Asiasi? The better question is to ask whether or not USC has room for the highly-touted tight end.
Heading into Signing Day, the Trojans’ scholarship math was of great concern. In fact, hitting on so many targets on the final day of the recruiting cycle meant USC had no room for defensive line commit Terrance Lang, who ultimately signed for Colorado.
And the roster is still overfull.
USC currently has 85 scholarship players either on the roster or signed as part of the 2017 recruiting class. And another one is coming down the line with offensive lineman Jalen McKenzie set to take a blueshirt, or advanced, scholarship once fall camp begins.
That means the Trojans already need to unload at least one player from the current roster without beginning to think about adding a transfer.
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There are potential departures to consider. The 86 scholarships currently allotted include three former walk ons who were granted scholarships last fall. Two of those, running back James Toland and safety Matt Lopes, would be fifth-year seniors if they return for the 2017 season. Both could instead opt to graduate and leave football behind.
There are also academic casualties to consider. Defensive lineman Kevin Scott and linebacker Olajuwon Tucker were both ruled academically ineligible for the Rose Bowl and it remains to be seen if they will get back on track in the classroom before the start of the new season.
Another player on the ropes is kicker Matt Boermeester, who is indefinitely suspended while the university investigates a “code of conduct” issue.
So at this moment, USC does not have room to pursue Asiasi’s transfer, but there could be room down the line. However, that would require the player to hold off on his transfer decision until those roster changes are confirmed.
That might be asking to much of a player who has good reason to be looking at the other school in Los Angeles.
UCLA was a finalist for Asiasi’s signature last year and should be in the running to sign him now.
The Bruins also have a greater need at tight end. With Daniel Imatorbhebhe, Tyler Petite, Cary Angeline, Josh Falo and Erik Krommenhoek on the roster, USC is set at the position for the foreseeable future. However, UCLA is in the process of rebuilding their tight end unit as they transition to a pro-style attack.
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The Trojans could certainly use Asiasi as a defensive end. If he were to consider the switch to defense, that would give USC incentive greater to make room, but it does not appear that the player is willing to make that transition at this point.
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Perhaps the biggest advantage for UCLA is the presence of Asiasi’s former De La Salle teammate Boss Tagaloa. Asiasi and Tagaloa were once considered a package deal as recruits, though they ultimately went their separate ways. It would be no surprise to see them reunite.
The long and short of it is, USC could always use the services of an athlete of Asiasi’s caliber, but positional need combined with complex scholarship math makes this particular transfer appear unlikely. Of course, stranger things have happened when it comes to transfers. This one just needs to play out.