How many scholarships does USC football have left to use for the recruiting class of 2019 after signing 18 on Early Signing Day?
On Wednesday, USC football signed a class of 18 new players on Early Signing Day, but the recruiting class of 2019 is far from complete.
The Trojans have more than a month to finalize the remainder of the class before the Late Signing Day in February.
So how many more scholarships does USC have to work with in that time?
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In addition to the 18 players officially announced, the Trojans have commitments from wide receiver Puka Nacua and running back Jordan Wilmore, bringing the class to 20. It is also presumed that punter Ben Griffiths has sent in his letter of intent, making the current total 21.
From there, it would seem USC has five more scholarships to award for a recruiting class which can total at least 26, with the potential for even more.
Here’s a quick primer on the rules of scholarship math. A team can have no more than 85 scholarship players on the roster at any one time and a team can bring in no more than 25 scholarship players, or “initial counters,” in any one recruiting cycle.
Yet, USC plans to bring in more than 25 new scholarship players in 2019. How is that possible?
It’s all part of the fine print. The initial counter rule can be manipulated with early enrollees. If a school doesn’t fill up their class from the previous year, players who enroll in January are eligible to count towards that prior batch of the 25-scholarship limit.
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For example, USC only signed 18 players in 2018, seven less than the limit. That was because the Trojans couldn’t fit any more under the total roster limit of 85. The small class now works in their benefit though, because 2019 recruits who are enrolling early can be shuffled into the count for 2018 instead.
So it’s a good thing USC has so many players who plan to enroll early this time around. As many as 12 signees could partake in Spring Camp.
That means the Trojans can shift as many as seven of those into the tally for 2018, technically freeing up an additional seven spots for 2019, in addition to the regular 25.
But it’s also not that simple.
The next question to answer is how many scholarships USC has room for under the 85-man limit.
When you remove the graduating seniors, wide receiver Randal Grimes, who has decided to transfer, and Tayler Katoa, who left for his Mormon mission, the Trojan roster stands at 59 scholarship players before adding the 2019 recruiting class. That would leave room to add 26 new scholarship players in 2019.
All that is before factoring in potential other departures, whether players opting to leave for the NFL, players looking to transfer or even players who intend to walk away as medical retirements.
If multiple players depart the program, as usually happens around this time of year for one reason or another, the Trojans will be able to sign more than 26 players, up to an unlikely total of 32.