Three-star JUCO defensive end Nick Figueroa chose USC football over UCLA and Tennessee on Early Signing Day, giving the Trojans a promising late-bloomer in the trenches.
USC football’s defensive line was bolstered on Early Signing Day with the pledge and signature of three-star junior college prospect Nick Figueroa.
The Trojans are getting the nation’s No. 20 JUCO prospect and the No. 1 strongside defensive end at the junior college level, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
Figueroa picked USC over UCLA and Tennessee on Wednesday, completing his rise from FCS Cal Poly to Riverside Community College to the top flight of college football.
More from Reign of Troy
- Markese Stepp enters transfer portal intending to leave USC football
- USC football’s Alijah Vera-Tucker declares for NFL Draft
- USC football adds Xavion Alford as transfer from Texas
- USC Podcast: RoT Radio Ep. 396 on the Football Season’s Fallout
- Talanoa Hufanga named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, USC football with five first-teamers
A high school baseball player, Figueroa came late to football. He played for the first time during his senior year at Cajon High School in 2016, posing 86 tackles and 12 sacks. However, his late development kept him from attracting major college football offers and he settled on Cal Poly.
Recognizing potential for more in football, he transferred to Riverside and impressed with 11.5 sacks in his one year with the team. That earned him the attention he lacked as a high school prospect, picking up offers from the likes of USC, UCLA and Tennessee, among others.
Though the Volunteers got the last word as Figueroa’s final official visit, the 6-foot-5, 270-pound defensive end opted to stay home with the Trojans, where he will have three years to play two.
MORE SIGNING DAY: Tracking All of USC’s Class of 2019 Signings
As a January enrollee, Figueroa will have the chance to make an immediate impact at USC. He already has the size to slot in at defensive end for the Trojans, who are looking to load up depth next to a group of promising defensive tackles.
USC is likely to return Christian Rector in that spot, though the redshirt junior could make a jump to the NFL or end up filling in once more at outside linebacker. Besides Rector, players who could line up at defensive end include Jay Tufele, Connor Murphy and JUCO transfer Caleb Tremblay, who redshirted in 2018 while dealing with injury.
Figueroa could compete to get into the rotation straight away if he hits the ground running in Spring Camp.