Many top recruits are on the fence – or at least playing coy – about their future school in the last few days before National Signing Day, but with just three days to go, the USC football program already has several future players locked in.
Former USC commit Arik Armstead will announce his destination Sunday at 3 p.m. Older brother Armond, a redshirt senior at USC, will likely follow his brother.
Defensive end DeVante Wilson has been a Trojans commit since before last Signing Day. He “gray-shirted” last year while he was recovering from a knee injury, but he enrolled at USC in time for the spring semester.
Linebacker Scott Starr, O-lineman Chad Wheeler, and defensive end Morgan Breslin, a juco transfer from Diablo Valley College, are also already on campus and in classes – which means they won’t count against the Trojans’ 75-man limit for 2012. (The scholarship reductions, to 75 a year rather than the typical 85, don’t take effect until the 2012 season. Mid-year enrollees count against the previous year’s scholarships, and the Trojans had available scholarships under 2011′s 85-man limits.) Safety Gerald Bowman, a juco transfer from Pierce College, was also slated to enroll early, pending completion of a winter session to fulfill transfer requirements.
Another definite newcomer in 2012 is former Florida defensive back Josh Shaw, who chose to transfer and move back to Los Angeles to be closer to his family. Shaw’s high school coach told reporters that Shaw’s father and grandfather are both dealing with serious health issues – Shaw missed a game with Florida last season because he was with his grandfather in the hospital – so the move makes sense. Shaw will seek a hardship waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play for the Trojans immediately, without sitting out a year. As a redshirt freshman in 2011, he had 22 tackles in 10 games with the Gators.
Other solid USC commits include outside linebacker Jabari Ruffin, defensive tackle Pio Vatuvei, tailback/fullback Jahleel Pinner, offensive tackle Max Tuerk, cornerback Kevon Seymour, offensive guard Jordan Simmons, and tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick.
Pinner, from Mission Viejo, committed to USC in May as a fullback, but he starred at fullback and tailback during his senior season. We Are SC’s Garry Paskiewietz speculated that the Trojans might look to Pinner to add depth to the backfield after the offseason departures of Amir Carlisle (to Notre Dame) and Dillon Baxter (San Diego State) – a possibility that seems increasingly likely as USC doesn’t have any strong runningback targets heading into Signing Day.
Cope Fitzpatrick, a long-time Trojan commit, recently took visits to other schools following his appearance in the Under Armour High School All-American game, but he reaffirmed his decision to attend USC last week.
Wide receiver Darreus Rogers has also been committed to ‘SC for some time, but Arizona State has made a late push to change his mind. Rogers recently took a visit to ASU and will announce his decision, between the Trojans and the Sun Devils, on Feb. 1.
While Rogers is now on the fence, USC has a strong chance of stealing a receiver of their own. Nelson Agholor, a Tampa native, was thought to be leaning toward Florida, but he visited the USC campus for the third time this weekend and will announce his final destination this week.
The Trojans are also in the running for several other O-lineman. Chad Wheeler’s already enrolled and Max Tuerk is a solid commit, but USC could also land Kyle Murphy, Andrus Peat or Zach Banner. Banner seems the likeliest to choose the Trojans, and he’ll announce his decision on Monday, Jan 30. Murphy will make his decision on Signing Day, and recruiting experts are projecting him to pick Stanford, though USC is not out of the running. Peat is expected to sign with Nebraska, as his brother also plays for the Huskers, but he has yet to tip his hand.
Another big target for the Trojans is defensive tackle Aziz ******. He’s also considering Cal, UCLA, and Stanford, and the Cardinal seems to be the favorite to sign him.
Three players (well, four) who probably won’t be on the Trojans’ roster next season are, TB D.J. Foster, DE Tyriq McCord and the Armstead brothers, Armond and Arik.
Foster was USC’s main target at tailback, but he announced last week that he’ll stay in his home state and play for Arizona State.
McCord was a Miami commit who recently flirted with the Trojans, but one week before Signing Day, he announced he was solid for Miami. Things could change, but it looks like McCord will stay in the Sunshine State.
For a while, it’s looked like both Armsteads would be playing elsewhere next season, and we’ll finally find out on Sunday, Jan. 29, when Arik makes his announcement at his church at 3 p.m. PST. Armond would’ve been a senior at USC last season but was redshirted after he failed to receive medical clearance from the school following his hospitalization for chest pains last winter. Arik was committed to USC but reopened his recruitment after the family was displeased with the way the school handled Armond’s situation.
It’s almost guaranteed that Armond will transfer to whichever school Arik selects. Lane Kiffin and several other Pac-12 coaches made last-minute in-home visits to the highly-touted defensive lineman late last week, and he’ll choose from among Auburn, Cal, Oregon, Notre Dame, Washington, and USC.