USC will enter the new year with 13 verbal commitments in its 2007 class. With National Signing Day, Feb. 6, still more than a month away, the Trojan coaching staff will attempt to close out another year with the nation's No. 1 recruiting class.
However, Pete Carroll may also find himself recruiting several current Trojans with ambitions of transferring or leaving for the NFL.
Jarrett making the Jump?
Before the Rose Bowl, several sources reported that junior receiver Dwayne Jarrett was leaning toward returning to USC for his senior year. After catching 11 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns, the 6-foot-5, 212-pound consensus All-American may find it difficult to turn down a first round NFL contract.
With receivers Steve Smith and Chris McFoy graduating, Pete Carroll may find that his most difficult recruiting job this offseason will revolve around the status of Jarrett.
And while Keith Rivers, Lawrence Jackson and Sedrick Ellis have all announced that they will return to USC next season, Chauncey Washington still awaits his evaluation from NFL scouts. Washington, who sat out two years because of academic eligibility issues, saw minimal success at USC this year due to injuries.
In recruiting, nothing is finalized until each verbally committed recruit signs on the dotted line. Unlike other sports, football doesn't have an early signing period.
The first day high school football prospects can sign National Letters of Intent is the first Tuesday in February.
Until then, the work is never over.
USC's class of 2007 is currently rated No. 4 in the country by Rivals.com. Of the 13 recruits committed, four are rated as five-stars and nine are ranked as members of the Rivals100.
In addition to these public commitments, the Trojans also entertain several silent commitments. However, silent commitments and signed commitments are two different things.
In fact, three of USC's publicly committed recruits are also setting up visit to other schools. Four-star linebacker Jordan Campbell, four-star running back Broderick Green and five-star guard James Wilson are among those with scheduled official visits
Green, the No. 5 running back in the country, took an official visit to USC Dec. 15. The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder, said that the USC trip could bring a final end to his recruitment. However, Green told Rivals.com two weeks ago that he will still officially visit Ohio State and Penn State this month.
Wilson, St. Augustine (Fal.) Nease High School, will take official visits to at least two other schools - including Florida and Wake Forest.
All three commitments have all claimed to be "solid" to USC, although rumors about their intentions are likely to resurface before signing day.
War of Attrition
In addition to holding onto the current commitments, USC will also be looking to finish out the class strong with new verbals. The Trojans will be losing just 11 scholarship seniors this year, which means attrition will likely make up any additional spots to be filled.
USCFootball.com broke the news of freshman safety Antwine Perez's transfer from USC last month, and we will continue to bring you exclusive coverage of other pending moves on the roster. That includes the future status of former five-star tailback Stafon Johnson, who is the focus of current transfer speculation.
However, USCFootball.com will also update you on breaking news regarding pending in-coming transfers. National recruiting analyst Mike Farrell was the first to report that Arkansas freshman wide out Damian Williams would transfer to USC this semester. Williams, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound All-SEC Freshmen Team selection, caught 19 passes for 235 yards and two scores as a Razorback this past season.
Rounding out Recruiting
As of now, USC will likely sign between 17-20 recruits in February.
Needs have already been met at the quarterback and offensive line positions. The top targets remaining on the board are at running back and wide receiver. A player who could make an impact for USC as a true freshman at either of those positions is River Ridge (La.) five-star athlete Joe McKnight.
With legitimate 10.6 speed and cat-like quickness, McKnight has drawn comparisons to former USC tailback Reggie Bush. While the Trojans signed several running backs a year ago, McKnight's ability to create mismatches in space are unique. The nation's No. 10 rated prospect will officially visit USC later this month.
On defense, the Trojans are still in line for two defensive tackles, a cornerback and possibly another safety. The Trojans' No. 1 target on either side of the ball is Washington (D.C.) five-star defensive tackle Marvin Austin. Rated the No. 2 prospect in the nation, Austin has immediate impact written all over him.
The "Contact Period" began in December and runs through Feb. 3, which means in that time college recruiters can have six in-person, off-campus contacts per recruit with no more than one in a calendar week.
There are a few exceptions within that time frame including Dec. 17 (Quiet Period), Dec. 18-Jan. 4 (Dead Period), Jan. 5-7 (Quiet Period), Jan. 8-11 (Dead Period) and Jan. 12-13 (Quiet Period).
During a "Dead Period", it's not permissible for coaches to make in-person, off-campus contacts with recruits. During a "Quiet Period", it's permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts only on the college's campus.
Within the next few weeks, USC will host several for an official visitors on campus. The list may grow, but the Trojans currently have McKnight and Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft four-star standout Malcolm Smith scheduled to visit Jan. 19.
What to expect
Expect some last-minute jockeying, ups and downs, highs and lows. Expect a sleeper or previously unknown recruit to pop up. USC covets the best of the best, and while Pete Carroll is difficult to beat on the trail, no program recruits without a plan-B. The Trojans will win some recruiting battles and lose some recruiting battles.
In the meanwhile, the nation's top juniors await the spotlight. In addition to bringing you the latest news on this year's recruiting class, USCFootball.com will also bring you exclusive features on the class of 2008.
This week, subscribers will get an early look at some of USC's top junior prospects in our 2008 Offensive and Defensive Target Lists. With prospects like Moorpark (Calif.) running back Darrell Scott and Jersey City (N.J.) athlete Will Hill already receiving scholarship offers from USC, it's never too early to view highlight videos of the nation's best juniors.
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