Everything You Need To Know About USC's Incoming Freshman Class

[Editor's Note: This story was first published on conquestchronicles.com on April 18, 2020]

ENROLLED: 4


Gary Bryant Jr., 4-Star WR

Bryant Jr. graduated a semester early from Centennial High School in order to participate in USC’s spring football regiment. The former Husky will compete for playing time in the loaded wide receiver room filled with the likes of Amon-Ra St. Brown (Junior), Tyler Vaughns (RS Senior) and Drake London (Sophomore). In his senior season, Bryant put on a show at whatever position his coaches told him to line up at. He posted 1,134 receiving yards at 19.6 yards per reception while hauling in 10 TDs, rushed for 173 yards and 2 TDs on just 2 carries, threw a 57- yard bomb for yet another TD, and he returned 2 punts for 115 yards and 2 more TDs, proving to be lethal on special teams. Although he was a High School standout, Bryant will have to put on muscle in order to make an impact at the college level as he is listed at just 5’11 and 165 pounds. USC may choose to redshirt him so that he can focus on building on his size but if they do not, expect him to contribute on special teams and as a rotational slot receiver due to his route running and natural speed.


Josh Jackson Jr., 3-Star WR

Jackson also graduated high school a year early, but he is not nearly as refined as a receiver like Bryant. The Narbonne High School alum put up less than impressive stats in his senior season, nabbing 37 receptions for 587 yards and 4 touchdowns. He does possess solid hands and good body control while attempting contested catches, but he did not face press defense while in high school and most of his production came on slant routes and screen passes. Jackson is a prime candidate to redshirt his true freshman season and take the time to learn from his position coaches. USC did, however, lose receivers Devon Williams (Oregon) and Velus Jones Jr. (Tennessee) to the transfer portal, which could leave room for Jackson to see the field next season.


Kobe Pepe, 3-Star DT

Kobe Pepe graduated from St. John Bosco a semester early and is looking to see the field in his first collegiate season. He was a monster on the interior for the Braves, racking up 80 total tackles, 11 sacks, 5 deflected passes and 1 forced fumble. Pepe will likely redshirt his freshman season strictly because the Trojans already have a strong defensive line rotation with Jay Tufele (RS Junior), Brandon Pili (Senior) and Marlon Tuipulotu (RS Junior). There is a good chance all three will be gone come the end of the 2020 season which will leave plenty of room for Pepe to contribute in his second year.


Parker Lewis, 3-Star K

Lewis is the last enrollee for USC thus far, coming to Southern California from Scottsdale, Arizona. The Saguaro High School alum played both kicker and punter with his former team, nailing 76 of 77 PATs, 5 of 5 field goals with a long of 48 yards, 82 touchbacks on 94 kickoffs and averaged an impressive 49.9 yards on his 16 punts, reaching a long of 70 yards. Lewis has been committed to USC since 2018 and has enrolled as a placekicker. The Trojans giving him a scholarship is a testament to his ability as the team already has Redshirt Junior Chase McGrath at kicker who still has 2 years of eligibility remaining coming off a season in which he made all 54 PAT attempts and netted 14 of 17 field goals. Lewis will likely redshirt his freshman season but looks to be SC’s long-term option for kickoffs and as a placekicker.


SIGNED LETTER OF INTENT: 9


Jonah Monheim, 4-Star OG

Jonah Monheim is 247Sports’s 16th highest-rated guard in the nation out of Moorpark, California. The former musketeer played left tackle at his high school, proving to be a great hard-nosed run blocker, often finishing plays by bullying his opposition to the turf. He is currently listed at 6’5’’ which is a great height for the guard position, but he is just 280 pounds which is a little slim but nothing a college football diet and weight training program can't fix. Offensive guards Alijah Vera-Tucker and Jalen McKenzie will be running it back for the 2020 season, as well as Liam Jimmons and Andrew Voorhees backing them up. However, USC is losing three starting-caliber tackles before the 2020 season, which will require their coaches to make some adjustments that may include moving McKenzie to starting right tackle, which he has played in the past for the Trojans. This leads us to believe Monheim has the best chance among the incoming recruits to start or at least rotate in when needed as a true-freshman.


Tuli Tuipulotu, 3-Star DT

Tuipulotu’s name should be familiar to USC fans, as his brother, Marlon (RS Junior), has been on the roster since 2017. The Lawndale Cardinals had him playing off the edge as he possesses quickness off the line, good hands technique, and great play recognition, but if the Trojans plan to move him inside he will need to put on some weight. Tuli stands at 6’3’ and weighs 266 pounds which will not be big enough to battle inside the trenches right away. He is no stranger to putting on muscle and gaining weight however, as he went from 215 pounds in his junior season to 266 pounds in his senior season at Lawndale High School. With USC already having a strong defensive line rotation, as stated above, it is safe to assume the younger Tuipulotu will redshirt his first season.


Jack Yary, 3-Star TE

USC is not known for utilizing their tight ends all that much in the passing game, targeting the position just 17 times last season and 24 the season before. Yary played TE at Murrieta Valley High School, proving to be a trusted receiver, nabbing 75 receptions for 1,007 yards and 18 touchdowns over the past 2 years. He showed solid athleticism for his 6’6’ 255 pounds build, as well as natural passing catching ability. He may see a position change at the college level, however, as he was solid in both pass protection and as a run blocker. He has the height to play on the offensive line but will need to bulk up in order to stay at the position. Wherever the Trojans decide to place Yary, expect him to redshirt his freshman season to work on his skills and then ball out starting in 2021.


Jamar Sekona, 3-Star DT

The Greenbrae, California product already has college-level size, weighing in at north of 300 pounds and standing at 6’3’. Even from his highlight tape, you can see Sekona is a raw prospect who relied heavily on his natural size and strength. He lacks any moves that will beat any experienced interior offensive lineman. It will be up to USC’s coaching staff to coach him up on the d-line and prepare him for the seasons ahead. He will almost certainly redshirt his first year and may not see the football field till year 2 or 3 of his college career.


Courtland Ford, 3-Star OT

The offensive tackle position is very thin at the moment for the Trojans, which is a big reason they will be bringing in 5 recruits for the 2020 season. USC is losing Drew Richmond and Austin Jackson to the draft, as well as Senior Clayton Bradley who is seeking a transfer. According to Pro Football Focus, the only other lineman to receive snaps at tackle were Frank Martin II (RS Senior) and Jalen Mckenzie (RS Junior) who is the team's starting right guard. This leaves room for the incoming offensive tackles to battle for a spot as a starter or reserve. Ford has the size to hold up against college defensive lineman, with a 6’6 305-pound frame.


He signed a letter of intent to attend USC over other power 5 programs, such as Alabama and LSU. The Cedar Hill product started at left tackle for the past 2 seasons and played well. He is great in the phone booth and was able to push to the second level and dominate linebackers in the run game. He struggles to bend which he will have to learn how to do at the next level, especially if USC plans to use him at tackle. If he can better control his leverage it will help with his balance and body control. Ford better projects as a guard but can play tackle if the Trojans decide not to move Andrew Voorhees or Jalen McKenzie to the outside.


Caadyn Stephen, 3-Star OT

Another offensive lineman that can play both guard or tackle, Stephen seems to be near maxed out in terms of his body, as he is already 6’6’ and 295 pounds. Coming out of Camas, Washington, Stephen’s best chances at starting or contributing to the Trojans in his first year are at the guard position. Given his build and play strength, he is better suited inside than outside, due to his size and lack of speed to keep up with more athletic defensive ends. He uses his hands well in pass pro, gets low in order to obtain solid leverage, and has decent footwork coming out of high school. Much like Ford above him, Stephen will have an opportunity to battle for a guard or tackle position for the 2020 season.


Casey Collier, 3-Star OT

A thinning offensive line littered with underclassmen provides Collier, and his freshman contemporaries, a unique opportunity to potentially see the field in just year one. Coming out of Barbers Hill High School in Texas, Collier is no stranger to elite competition. His 6’7 300-pound frame allows him to anchor down at the tackle position. Collier’s length and wingspan offer a strong foundation regarding pass protection. Hoping to follow the trend of having a strong pass-blocking front line rated 31st by PFF’s standards in 2019, USC places faith in their young recruits to fill the void of Drew Richmond and Austin Jackson. It, therefore, becomes obvious that Casey Collier is a manifestation of their hopes.


Andrew Milek, 3-Star OT

Andrew Milek served up pancake after pancake while at Brophy College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona. He started at left tackle for the Bucking Horses and made his name as a stout run defender. He handles himself well in space and as the lead blocker for his running backs. As with the other offensive tackles who have signed letters of intent to enroll with USC, he has great size, towering over others with his 6’6’ and 295-pound body. He will need to work on his pass protection, as he struggled with quicker and smaller edge defenders who were able to get leverage on him. With the OT position being so weak for the Trojans, Milek will have the opportunity to make the rotation, but if his coaches decide he is too raw he will receive a redshirt for the 2020 season.


Andres Dewerk, 3-Star OT

The rawest of the incoming offensive lineman group, Dewerk’s high school career as a starter was both short and promising. He is relatively new to the offensive side of the ball and it shows when he is pass-blocking. In pass protection, the Los Gatos lineman had sluggish foot speed and often stood too straight up, making it easy for the defense to bully him toward his QB. Despite his pass-blocking woes, he was solid in the run game and has a massive 6’7 297-pound frame, which he will continue to add muscle to while at USC. Dewerk may redshirt his first season as he does not seem ready to keep Kedon Slovis upright, but has the God-given body to ultimately perform at the tackle position for the Trojans in the future.


TRANSFERS: 1


Mo Hasan, Unranked QB from Vanderbilt

Mo Hasan transferring to USC was a surprise as he only has one year of eligibility left and with a quarterback room containing JT Daniels (RS Sophomore) who recently entered the transfer portal, Kedon Slovis (Sophomore), and Matt Fink (RS Senior). With three Qbs ahead of him, it is safe to assume he will not see the field in 2020. He started one game with Vanderbilt in 2019, completing 7 of 11 passes for 120 yards and 1 touchdown while also rushing 7 times for 34 yards before being knocked out the contest against Missouri in week 8. At the very least, Hasan will provide depth at the position in case Daniels or Fink decide to transfer before the start of the season, which is not out of the equation just yet.


SUMMARY:


USC’s 2020 recruiting class seems lackluster at best. The Trojans brought in just three skill position players, with the rest being offensive lineman, defensive lineman, and one kicker. 247sports has the class ranked 55th in the nation and 10th in the PAC-12, both were massive falls from 2019’s class which was ranked 19th and 3rd respectively. The Trojans netted just two 4-star athletes this year and only one player who ranked in the top-350 prospects in the nation.


Despite this, USC has proven they can get the most out of their recruits. They all may not end up like 2019 standout Kedon Slovis, who came in and dominated as a 3-star true freshman, but if they contribute like Kenan Christon and Dorian Hewitt, the 2020 class will have already outperformed their low overall rating.

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