USC’s 2020 recruiting class tanks roster talent rank, all-time ratings

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

USC fell off their perch with the 2020 recruiting class, with jaw-dropping stats revealing just how far the Trojans plummeted.

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If you thought USC’s team recruiting rank of 55th coming out of Signing Day was the lowest the Trojans could get, think again.

Thursday was a day for stepping back and looking at all the implications of the end of another recruiting cycle. It brought about more analysis of how poorly USC did this time around.

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Jason Kirk of Banner Society penned an article entitled, “USC just landed the most disappointing ranking of any recruiting class ever.”

He backed that claim up by looking at each program’s final 247Sports Composite ranking going back to 2002.

USC’s baseline was 5.06. Their 2020 ranking was 55th. That’s a -49.94 differential, worst in the country.

Here’s how Kirk explained the severity of the fall:

"In normal seasons, none of the top 22 all-time recruiters had ever finished with a single class ranked outside the top 50. USC, you’ve made exciting history. But USC isn’t just one of the top 22 all-time recruiters. USC entered 2020 with the #1 all-time recruiting norm across the entire star ratings era! This isn’t the equivalent of Penn State or Oregon or South Carolina suddenly having one of the Power 5’s worst classes. This is like looking up three years from now and seeing Alabama’s class rank below Vanderbilt’s (as 2020 USC’s does). This one class is so abnormal, it bumps USC down from #1 to #6 all-time in this lil Recruiting Baseline stat."

But wait! There’s more.

Dave Bartoo of CFBMatrix put similar data in a different frame by looking at each programs’ most recent two classes compared with the two classes which came before.

USC topped them all.

It’s not hard to explain how the dip has materialized.

Ryan Abraham of gave an accounting of USC’s haul of Top 350 players in previous classes. From 2015 through 2018, the Trojans had no less than 14 signees fit that description.

In 2019, the total dropped to eight. In 2020, the total was one.

It doesn’t stop there either.

Adam McClintock, who co-founded Matrix Analytical with Bartoo, put USC’s recruiting dip in context with the rest of the roster.

The Trojans fell out of the Top 20 teams in terms of roster talent rankings, dropping 12.6 points from last year’s numbers.

We’ll finish on a counterpoint.

The Trojans’ recruiting ranking in 2020 reflects more on the players USC missed than on the players they signed. Those prospects have the power to flip the script on their class.

After all, USC’s class of 2016 ranked in the Top 10, but Max Olson of The Athletic recently re-ranked that recruiting class on a national scale and placed the Trojans outside of the Top 25 in terms of performance. Many five and four-star players failed to live up to expectations.

Already the class of 2019 has produced a stellar overperformer in Kedon Slovis, a three-star quarterback most expected to ride the bench for the entirety of his career. Several more three-star players, like Kenan Christon, Munir McClain and Dorian Hewett, gave strong accounting of themselves.

In the end, the class of 2020 gets to tell their own story. But like any good protagonist, they’re starting from the bottom.

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