Five-star linemen don't pick USC anymore
While the mainstream sports media loves to focus on quarterbacks whenever they talk about college football, those who really follow the game know just how it’s won.
Football is a game that’s won at the line of scrimmage.
Good USC teams bully everyone up front, especially Pac-12 competition. But it doesn’t seem to be happening in the Clay Helton era.
It’s because of coaching and talent development, without question, but it’s also because of recruiting. At the end of the day, top linemen don’t pick the Trojans. Clay Helton hasn’t signed a five-star lineman, on either side of the ball, in his tenure as USC head coach.
Looking back to the Stanford and Texas games, doesn’t that seem to be very clear?
And even if USC does get a five-star on campus, they don’t have a chance to sign them.
Rashan Gary, Alex Leatherwood, Foster Sarrell, and Marvin Wilson were all universally recognized five-stars who visited USC. They all chose another school. Jackson Carman, Wyatt Davis and Aubrey Solomon were ranked as five-stars by two of the three major recruiting services. All three visited USC and picked other schools.
Compare that to what’s happening at Alabama and Ohio State. By getting Jonah Williams and Wyatt Davis, respectively, both programs have signed more five-star linemen from the West Coast than USC has in the Clay Helton era. Ouch.
A third team has also outperformed Helton’s staff when it comes to signing West Coast five-star linemen, and five-star linemen in general. Stanford.
Stanford signed two five-star linemen in the Helton era (Sarrell and Walker Little. Little was recognized as a four-star by ESPN and isn’t from the West Coast). Remember, Stanford recruits high school talent to Palo Alto and has unrealistic academic expectations. USC recruits kids to Los Angeles and a school that offers a heck of a lot outside of the classroom.
All of this is said before a big reminder. LSU commit Kardell Thomas will take an official visit to USC for the Colorado game. He’s rated as a five-star prospect by two of the three major recruiting services.
Bet the house he sticks with his LSU pledge. If that happens, Clay Helton will be 0-for-8 on five-star linemen that have visited USC.