USC recruiting class of 2020 ends with a whimper on Signing Day

USC football head coach Clay Helton. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
USC football head coach Clay Helton. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Signing Day 2020 ended for USC football with just one signee and a whole lot of misses as the Trojans secured their lowest-ranked class on record.

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This is the way 2020 recruiting ends, not with a bang but a whimper.

There was no Kaboom!-worthy signing to spring USC into the offseason. Three-star tight end Jack Yary, who recommitted to the Trojans on Monday, was the only new addition to the 13-man class.

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There was only one signing ceremony to watch on Wednesday. That belonged to four-star running back Michael Drennen, who chose Kentucky over USC.

The Trojans didn’t get a Hail Mary visit with five-star running back Zachary Evans. Nor were they in the running for any of the top remaining prospects available in 2020.

Promises of silent commits and a strong finish fell woefully short for the Trojans, but head coach Clay Helton won’t be answering for that, opting not to hold a Signing Day press conference.

It’s easy to see why. Standing in front of the media on Wednesday would mean fielding questions about USC’s failure to deliver across the board.

At quarterback, they’d already missed out on five-star quarterback Bryce Young and whiffed with last-ditch offers to three-stars Blake Shapen, who signed with Baylor, and Cade Fennegan, who signed with Boise State.

They saw four-star all-purpose back Daniyel Ngata go to ASU and three-star Ty Jordan go to Utah. Five-star running back Bijan Robinson and four-star Kendall Milton ended up at Texas and Georgia respectively.

They lost Julian Fleming, a five-star receiver, to Ohio State. Four-star Calabasas studs Jermaine Burton and Johnny Wilson went to Georgia and ASU. Serra’s LV Bunkley-Shelton, another four-star, is also joining the Sun Devils. Former Trojan commits Kris Hutson and Koy Moore, another pair of four-stars, are on the way to Oregon and LSU.

Four-star offensive lineman Myles Murao is going to Washington. St. John Bosco’s Drake Metcalf, a three-star, is going to Stanford.

Five-star linebackers Justin Flowe and Noah Sewell are strengthening Oregon.

Four-star outside linebackers Kourt Williams, Damian Sellers and Jordan Banks are heading to Ohio State, UCLA and ASU.

Five-star cornerback Elias Ricks and four-star Dwight McGlothern signed with LSU. Four-star Darion Green-Warren picked Michigan.

Any combination of those players would be typical to see in a USC recruiting class. But the Trojans missed on them. All of them.

If you thought the 20th-ranked class of 2019 was a disappointment (and it was), the class of 2020 said very clearly, “Hold my beer.”

At the end of Signing Day, USC ranked 54th nationally and 10th in the Pac-12. Only Washington State and Arizona ranked lower. The rest of the conference finished 38th or higher, topped by Oregon at No. 12.

Surviving one recruiting dip is manageable, but USC is now looking at a serious hole to climb out of, and they can’t blame a 5-7 season or coaching changes for it.

USC had the second-biggest regression from last year’s multi-year recruiting rankings, according to Bill Connelly of ESPN.

A 21.6 percent drop means USC’s roster has gotten significantly less talented in the past two cycles (insofar as talent is a measure of recruiting rankings).

The 13 individuals in the class of 2020 may ultimately exceed expectations, but the numbers attached to the class can’t be ignored.

This is the lowest-ranked USC recruiting class in history, twice as low as the previous worst.

The Trojans have signed just one player in the Top 350 of the 247Sports composite rankings—four-star wide receiver Gary Bryant Jr.—and none inside the Top 40. Only six of the 13 rank inside the Top 500.

USC may recruit itself, but not at an elite level. Not anymore.

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