For the second year in a row, Mission Viejo High School is sending a standout player to USC. In 2011 linebacker Tre Madden joined the Trojans as a linebacker and now fullback Jahleel Pinner is becoming a part of the Men of Troy in 2012.
At 6-foot-1, and 225 pounds, Pinner is a game changer. Pinner was used as a hybrid running back and fullback his senior year at Mission Viejo and now he is poised to become an impact player for the USC Trojans.
Hampered by injuries in 2011, Pinner managed to rack up 559 yards and seven touchdowns on 113 carries while only playing in nine games. Pinner's breakout season was his junior year in 2010 when he rushed for 749 yards on 115 carries for coach Bob Johnson. Following his 2010 campaign, Jahleel decided to verbally commit to the University of Southern California in May of 2011.
Pinner is ranked as the number one fullback in country by Rivals.com and is surrounded by other top national recruits who make USC's 2012 recruiting class one of the strongest in nation (Rivals.com ranks USC with the seventy best recruiting class in the land).
"I feel that we will be able to come in right away and compete with the best teams in the nation with our incoming talent," Pinner said.
Not only are the Trojans getting a winner in Pinner as he went 23-4 in two years at Mission Viejo, USC is getting a class act as well. In Pinner's letter of intent speech, he expressed how much he wanted to thank his parents, coaches, players, and especially his Grandmother.
"Family," says Pinner is what endeared him to love the Trojan community so much. "Everything I hear is about how close the current players are with the alumni. I wanted to go to a place with a sense of closeness and togetherness. And plus, I thought Coach Kiffin was hilarious."
"Staying so close to home was another big bonus for me when I decided to attend USC," stated Pinner who grew up in Rancho Santa Margarita, California, located just about an hour south of the Coliseum. "My aunt graduated from UCLA so there could be some bad blood within the family, but I know that she supports me 100% with my decision to be a Trojan." Joined by fellow top offensive line recruit Max Tuerk, Jahleel is sure to feel at home. Pinner and Tuerk have known and competed against each other for years since intermediate school and grew up in the same area.
"Max is a great player and great friend of mine and I look forward to playing with him at USC," he said.
Pinner and Mission Viejo were able to knock Tuerk's Santa Margarita Catholic High School (CA) out of the playoffs in 2010. However, Tuerk came back for revenge as Santa Margarita beat Mission Viejo in 2011 and eventually went on to win the California State Championship.
When asked about if signing with USC has sunk in, Pinner said, "Not yet. Sometimes I'll be thinking about it at night and all I can think is, this is so surreal."
Stay tuned to USCFootball.com for more updates on the Trojan class of 2012.
Mitchell Holland is a staff writer at the Diablo Dispatch of Mission Viejo High School. You can follow him at @MitchHolland10.