USC football's 10 best five-star recruits of all-time

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8. Matt Kalil

Matt Kalil was the top-rated offensive tackle in the class of 2008. Though fellow 2008 offensive lineman Tyron Smith, a four-star recruit, would also go on to a standout career, it was Kalil whose impact was the most clear at the college level.

Described by Scout as “may be the most polished offensive lineman in the West” when he came out of high school, it took Kalil a couple of years to break into the Trojan lineup at left tackle. Once there, he established himself as a difference-maker up front.

Kalil’s redshirt junior season was one of the most impressive of any Trojan lineman in recent memory. He was USC’s most important cog on the offensive line as both a pass protector and run blocker. On the foundations he laid, the Trojans rallied to an impressive 10-2 record despite NCAA sanctions.

For his dominance, Kalil was named an All-American and won the Pac-12 Morris Trophy, which is given to the top offensive lineman in the conference as selected by opposing defensive linemen.

That’s just taking into account his impact on offense. Kalil was also a special teams asset. He blocked five kicks in his career. One of those was a field goal block against Minnesota in the 2011 season opener, a game which USC won by two points. Another came on a game-tying attempt by Utah in the final seconds at the Coliseum the very next week.

Trojan fans knew how critical Kalil was when he left for the NFL, but his true influence was felt even more strongly when USC disappointed greatly in 2012 in his absence.