A lot of USC fans/supporters have tried to act like nothing that big is happening. A few lost schollies? Eh, we’re USC. Missing 2 bowls? Eh, doesn’t matter, we still have top recruits lining up (which, thus far, is true). But the defections have begun in earnest, and these aren’t defections by low-rated guys buried on the depth chart.
As everyone knows, all-world recruit Seantrel Henderson is being released (most likely to Miami, where his Dad figures his rap game will still be ‘legit’). Henderson could have started this year – and if not would have pushed for serious minutes at the least.
Linebacker Jordan Campbell is also gone. Campbell was likely going to see significant playing time at a thin LB position, though he clearly wasn’t a star.
Jarvis Jones is a Georgia Bulldog now. Jones was an all-everything type player that was expected to do big things after a rapid rise in the depth chart as a frosh, but an injury shortened his time at USC. Again, not a guy that was going to be a starter, but could have played a role down the line.
DE Malik Jackson bailed, and is heading to Kiffin’s old school Tennessee. Jackson was also going to see significant time, but also as a backup on the DL. Again, not a star, but likely a meaningful contributor after playing as both a frosh and a sophomore. Jackson hinted that even more defections are on the way: “I don’t know,” Jackson said. “People are kind of keeping it quiet right now until they figure out what they’re going to do.”
Next up? Backup QB Aaron Corp who is gone as of today. Again, not a starter, but a quality player no doubt. Just one more spot open on the roster that just can’t be filled due to the limits.
Ever the optimist, Lane Kiffin commented: “If someone wants to leave the best place in the country to play football, we won’t stop them.” By ‘best place to play in the country’, Kiffin meant ‘the only place where you cannot play in a bowl game, where your recruiting class will be half the size it would be normally, and ALSO where you can STILL get paid to play despite getting busted big time’.
These transfers matter. Whether or not these guys were ‘the guys’ going into the fall isn’t really the point. At some point, they would likely have been players for USC. Starters or significant backup contributors. And in 1-3 years, whenever that moment would have arrived for these guys? USC will have younger, less experienced guys in those roles instead. And fewer of THOSE guys given the schollie limit. So you lose a future potential starter or big-time contributor back-up, and then you lose the guy that WOULD have been behind him to the schollie limit. Maybe you pick up a 5-star guy that ends up starting young despite all this. But that kid will make mistakes. And when he doesn’t improve or when he gets hurt? Guess who’s waiting in the wings? Nobody. Or a walk-on. Yeah, that’s going to matter.
USC needs to hold on to every single guy on that roster given those scholarship losses, and they’re not doing that. I expect at least 3-4 more losses over the summer, and a few in-season as the house of cards falls all around Kiffin’s boyish face. And that’s going to just decimate this program for the coming years.
That is, unless they can increase the payments to entice kids to stay. Cuz, ya know, that would be the USC way to handle it.
ADDITION 1: Byron Moore is transferring as well. Highly rated young player that would have pushed for time this year and would’ve started down the road. USC’s secondary lost a lot to graduation/NFL last year, and this isn’t helping them back there. Moore will go the JC route.
Addition 2: Top JC Recruit Glen Stanley is looking for his release from the Trojans. He says it’s to stay closer to home and his kid, but that seems like a convenient excuse considering the kid was there when he decided to follow Lane to USC too. Regardless, that’s one less field-ready LB for USC. Also, read the article – you gotta love how USC operates – no one will even communicate with the kid. Classy.
Addition 3: DJ Shoemate is gonzo to UCONN. He would have likely started at FB, though he left because he wants to be ‘the guy’ behind the QB and get a ton of carries. Either way, another potential starter gone for USC. So sad.