New recruits add depth to talented 2015 roster

first_imgWearing a cardinal and gold jersey carries a rich tradition of football greatness in a program unparalleled by any other. With the prestige of a USC education, the unique qualities that Los Angeles adds to a college experience and the powerhouse football program, it’s no wonder that football recruits put USC at the top of their list.Year after year, USC appears in the top 10 in rankings of recruiting classes, and this year is no different. In his second year, recruiting coordinator and linebacker coach Peter Sirmon has rounded up a successful recruiting class to carry the torch for the upcoming season. Many media outlets have USC’s incoming class among the top three in the nation: No. 1 by rivals.com, No. 2 by 247sports.com and No. 3 by ESPN.com. Coming into a historic program of champions, the new recruits know they have big shoes to fill.“We didn’t come here to be mediocre, we didn’t come here [to] be OK. We came here to win championships,” head coach Steve Sarkisian told recruits at PAC-12 media day. “If the expectations were going to be too big, this wasn’t the place for you.”The spring enrollees got a head start on navigating college and are flourishing. WR Isaac Whitney (Southmoore HS/Oklahoma City, Oklahoma/Riverside CC) provides depth as he joins in the rotation at the wideout position.  LB Cameron Smith (Granite Bay HS/Roseville, California), OL Roy Hemsley (Windward School/Los Angeles, California), and OL Chuma Edoga (McEachern HS/Powder Springs, Georgia).As the Trojans enter the fall season, they add another 19 members from California, Nevada, Utah and Texas.New QB Sam Darnold (San Clemente HS/Capistrano Beach, California) is an exceptional athlete and joins a growing roster of potential replacements for Kessler once he leaves USC.“Behind [Kessler], we have quality depth,” Sarkisian said leading into spring practice.  “There will be a tremendous battle for the backup role and the future starting job,”Joining the team in hopes of supplementing Sarkisian’s approach of playing an up-tempo, no-huddle offense are new faces OL Cole Smith (Mission Viejo HS/ Mission Viejo, California), WR De’Quan Hampton (Dominguez HS/Carson, California/Long Beach CC), TE Tyler Petite (Campolindo HS/Lafayette, California), WR Deontay Burnett (Junipero Serra/ Gardena, California), WR Deontay Burnett (Serra HS/ Gardena, California), and preferred walk-on TE Caleb Wilson (Serra HS/ Gardena, California). The Trojans are not short in the speed department with the addition of the rookies: TB-WR Dominic Davis (Bishop Alemany HS/Los Angeles, California), TB Ronald Jones II (McKinney North HS/McKinney, Texas), and TB Aca’Cedric Ware (Cedar Hill HS/DeSoto, Texas).Playing on both sides of the ball has worked for veteran Trojans, including Adoree’ Jackson. Three freshmen looking to make a similar impact for the 2015 season are DB-WR Isaiah Langley (Foothill HS/Hayward, California), DB-WR Ykili Ross (Riverside Poly HS/Riverside, California) and LB-TE Osa Masina (Brighton HS/Salt Lake City, Utah).A big loss came early with the Trojans following the 2014 season with losing standout two-time-All-American defensive end and sixth overall NFL draft pick Leonard Williams. Incoming freshmen DL Jacob Daniel (North HS/Fresno, California), DL Rasheem Green (Serra HS/Los Angeles, California), DL Noah Jefferson (Liberty HS/Las Vegas, Nevada), DL Christian Rector (Loyola HS/South Pasadena, California) and DL Kevin Scott  (Salesian HS/Duarte, California) hope to fill the slot that Williams left behind.Sarkisian knows that the loss of Williams will be detrimental, but he said he is not worried about the upcoming depth of this position.“There is lots of senior leadership, while at the same time the new players will be hungry to push for playing time,” he said.After losing Senior captain Hayes Pullard to the NFL draft and graduation, USC comes up big with the addition of two tough linebackers, LB John Houston Jr. (Serra HS/ Carson, California) and LB Porter Gustin (Salem Hills HS/Elk Ridge, Utah). Junior SOLB Su’a Cravens stated during PAC-12 media day that he’s following in the footsteps of some of his former teammates and mentors and is “taking on a leadership role that’s not focusing on just [his] game, but also on those around [him], especially the young guys.” In the 2015 season, the Sam, Mike and Will positions are stacked more than ever under the leadership of Sirmon and veterans Anthony Sarao, Lamar Dawson and Scott Felix.Defensively, USC is rebuilding from losing key players, but Sarkisian knows that his guys have what it takes.“We have signed tremendous recruiting classes here that have added depth to our roster,” Sarkisian said. “We expect to be a better team in the fourth quarter this year and finish games stronger.”last_img read more