USC focuses on its needs and lands an outstanding class
LOS ANGELES (AP) Although Southern California coach Clay Helton is an indefatigable optimist on the worst of days, he simply couldn't think of anything that went wrong on a bonanza of a signing day for his Trojans.
USC landed the nation's fourth-best class Wednesday, adding 23 elite players to a roster already brimming with talent. Recruiting almost exclusively on the West Coast, Helton bolstered his depth at almost every position and addressed several key areas of need, including his offensive line and every level of the defense.
''This is my 22nd year of doing it, and it was just one of those neat days where everything came together,'' Helton said on campus.
The Trojans ended last season on a nine-game winning streak capped by an epic victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl. They'll be a national title contender in the fall, but replacing both starting tackles and top receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster will be a priority.
So Helton went out and signed four offensive linemen with enormous potential - Austin Jackson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Brett Neilon and Andrew Vorhees.
''As a coach, you can't get caught up in the stars or the rankings,'' Helton said. ''You have to look at the holes you need to fill and the needs you need.''
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: Yes
Best in class: RB Stephen Carr. One of the nation's best ball-carriers committed early and stuck with the Trojans. He reminds Helton of Ezekiel Elliott.
Best of the rest: OT Austin Jackson, DT Jay Tufele. The Trojans loaded up on the line to replace departing contributors.
Late addition: WR Joseph Lewis. An excellent class became outstanding with a commitment from one of the nation's best receiver prospects.
How they'll fit in: The Trojans are about to enter a hype machine with quarterback Sam Darnold returning, but they have seven months to figure out how to fill the lineup holes left by departing stars. He addressed every deficiency on signing day, and now Helton's staff must make them into a team capable of getting back to the Rose Bowl.
For the full list: http://www.usctrojans.com/
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