What running back prospects are on the USC football recruiting radar for 2018 and what are the Trojans’ chances of landing them?
Though it is very early in the 2018 recruiting cycle, it is never too soon to put your finger on the pulse of USC football recruiting efforts, especially for those fans who care about such things.
And despite the very fluid nature of recruiting—especially at this time of the year—it is worth noting what direction Clay Helton and company are going in terms of both need and quality of recruits.
Such is the case with the prep running back group which isn’t flooded with Trojan offers for 2018. This may reflect the quality of players for this position but certainly also takes note of team needs going forward.
With seven running backs on the 2017 roster led by Ronald Jones II and Aca’Cedric Ware, USC is in pretty good shape at this position, although there is a good chance that Jones may seek the riches of the NFL upon the completion of the upcoming season.
Also, factor in the signing of 2017 stud Stephen Carr and this position is one that the Trojans can afford to be picky about.
This article will look at Trojan offers for this batch of prep running backs and the likelihood of these players donning the cardinal and gold for their college careers.
Note: All stats, including level of interest come courtesy of 247Sports.com
T.J. Pledger — 4-Star; IMG Academy, Florida
A onetime teammate of current five-star Trojan quarterback pledge Matt Corral, Pledger was thought at one time to be a heavy USC lean but that no longer seems to be the case.
Despite being designated as “warm” in terms of his interest in the Trojans, Pledger has turned his attention to Oklahoma which now seems to be the favorite to land his services.
Supremely athletic, Pledger is clearly the most talented of the non-committed running backs that the Trojans have offered and they will likely continue to monitor Pledger’s recruitment. However, the extend of those efforts to land him remains to be seen.
Chris Curry — 3-Star; Lehigh Acres, Florida
Though the 5-foot-11, 200-pound Curry’s interest in USC appears to be genuine, the Trojans are only one of several colleges that has piqued his curiosity.
Among his other suitors, Curry also has offers from the likes of Florida, LSU, Oregon and South Florida with the Gators appearing to be the favorite early on, although Miami (FL) would also be a strong player with Curry should they decide to offer.
After rushing for 1,158 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior, look for Curry to gain a higher star rating and even more interest from other programs should he excel in the 2017 prep season.
Tae Provens — 3-Star; Gurley, Alabama
Reaching into the deep south, USC’s offer of the 6-foot, 190-pound Tae Provens has been met with mutual interest, although like Curry, Provens has interest in other programs including Tennessee which is listed as a favorite to garner his services per the 247Sports crystal ball.
Blessed with great athleticism, Provens will benefit from a college weight program and is likely to be a late bloomer. The chances of him winding up a Trojan would appear to be a longshot at best.
Lavonte Valentine — 3-Star; Melbourne, Florida
Still another reach into Florida by the Trojans recruiting staff, the 6-foot, 188-pound Valentine combines both speed and shiftiness as his main qualities at the position.
However, despite USC’s obvious interest, Valentine has not returned the love as 247Sportslists him as “cool” when it comes to his choice of colleges.
At this writing, the SEC appears likely to be his destination with Florida leading for Valentine.
Tavion Thomas — 3-Star; Dayton, Ohio
Tavion Thomas checks off all of the boxes for USC in terms of being a big back at 6-foot-2, 225-pounds, with enough speed to do damage on the edges.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, Thomas appears to be heading to Ohio State which is both his in-state school and one that he is heavily favoring.
Lack of California Offers
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It is interesting to note that USC has not offered a single California running back, which may be reflective of a lack of quality backs in the state.
Four-star Maurice Washington is the top-rated back in California, but ranks No. 245 nationally overall.
Of course, this may change as the prep football season starts and outstanding runners both in California and the west reveal themselves.
Still, it remains to be seen exactly how much attention will be given to this position by USC’s recruiting staff with other areas of need demanding more of their efforts.
Having said that, don’t expect running back to be a main focus for the Trojans in the 2018 recruiting cycle.