USC football has secured its share of top-level recruits this century, but which Trojan five-stars shined the brightest during their college careers?
Not all five-star players are created equally. Some meet expectations, some fall far short. That’s how it goes for every program, including USC.
The Trojans do have an advantage over many other programs though. They have brought in a whole lot of five-star players since the star rating system came to be. That means USC has had more than their share of five-star players prove their worth in cardinal and gold this century.
So which five-star players stand out above all the rest? Here’s a look at the 10 best Trojan five-stars in the history of recruiting rankings:
USC football's 10 best five-star recruits of all-time
(All ratings are based on the 247Sports composite rankings. Undoubtedly there are players who were five-stars in one rating system but not another. For the sake of clarity and continuity, only players who are listed as composite five-stars were considered.)
10. Fred Davis
Fred Davis is an interesting case among USC’s best five-stars. He makes it onto this list because of his accomplishments as a tight end, but he was rated as a wide receiver after playing that position along with running back, quarterback and strong safety at Rogers High in Toledo, Ohio.
Whatever position he played, Davis was considered the 14th-best player in the class of 2004. He rated No. 2 among pass catchers, and ultimately, he lived up to that mantle.
The trouble for Davis at first was carving out a role for the Trojans. When he arrived at USC, his 6-foot-4 frame set him up for a position change.
“You could tell he had talent, but it didn’t really fit at wide receiver because he was getting so big,” then-USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow told the LA Times. “But he was the perfect size for a tight end.”
The next challenge was making an impact with so many other impact players already dominating the offense. For two years he waited his turn, growing his skills as a blocking tight end while contributing in 2005, then starting in 2006. The departures of Dwayne Jarrett and Steve Smith following that season opened the door for Davis to really shine.
Setting USC records for catches, yards and touchdowns by a tight end in 2007, Davis became the Trojans’ No. 1 passing target. He put his size and athleticism to work as a nightmare matchup for opposing defenses and became the first tight end in USC history to win the Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end.