COMMITTED, NOT DELIVERED:Â Cretin-Derham High School
offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, the consensus No. 1 player in the
nation most of the season gave a verbal commitment to USC and head
coach Lane Kiffin on National Signing Day but is waiting until the
NCAA concludes its investigation.
USC lands the Big One
Mammoth offensive tackle Henderson leads nation’s top class
By Evan Barnes
Sentinel Sports Editor
The more things change, the more they stay the same and USC succeeded in keeping things business as usual when it comes to recruiting prime talent
Using their old bag of tricks provided by new coach/former assistant Lane Kiffin the Trojans brought in the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class according to Rivals.com and No. 2 according to ESPN.
No recruit was bigger – literally – than 6-8, 330 lbs. offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson, the consensus No. 1 player in the nation for most of the season. The Minnesota native surprised everyone by picking USC over a Big Ten school.
Henderson is the rare lineman that has earned national player of the year awards and he’s been hailed for his combination of speed and power.
But all isn’t safe yet. Henderson did not sign a letter of intent and is waiting on the NCAA to rule on their investigations into sanctions involving the football program.
It’s a situation that weighed on the minds of every recruit who signed with USC, yet it did not stop them from making this class another jewel in the Trojans’ recruiting history.
Locally, they signed longtime commits Robert Woods (Gardena Serra High School), Jesse Scoggins and Dion Bailey (both Lakewood HS). At the last minute, they swayed Crenshaw linebacker Hayes Pullard, who was expected to sign with UCLA.
Pullard made his decision in a tribute to his late father, a Trojan alum who had hoped his son would follow his footsteps.
The Trojans also added receivers Markeith Ambles (Georgia) and Kyle Prater (Illinois). Along with Woods, many experts hailed it as one of the best wide receiving corps in the nation.
Not to be outdone by their rivals, UCLA also pulled off one of the day’s biggest surprises in signing defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa from Oregon.
Rated the No. 2 prospect at his position, Odighizuwa was hailed as the best prospect from Portland since Nebraska All-American defensive end and eventual NFL lottery pick Ndamukong Suh.
They also signed a majority of their class from Southern California, including four-star recruits Josh Shirley (Fontana Kaiser HS), Anthony Jefferson (Cathedral HS) and Dietrich Rieley (La Canada St. Francis HS).
In total they had 22 signees, three more than USC, and they addressed mostly the defensive side of the ball. But they also added to their stable crop of running backs with Malcolm Jones (Oaks Christian HS) and Jordan James (Corona HS).
Time will tell before we see the impact of these classes but there will be a chance for some to be solid freshmen contributors- especially in Woods and Riley. If Henderson does sign with the Trojans, he’ll most certainly be one.
On the local recruiting front, Washington was a big winner in securing Army All-American defensive back Sean Parker (Narbonne HS) from USC. The Huskies also signed his teammate Melvin Davis, Kevin Smith (Compton Centennial) and Gregory Ducre (Crenshaw).
And it’s not too late to start looking ahead to 2011. Not when Crenshaw tailback DeAnthony Thomas and Serra wide receiver George Farmer will be two of the top prospects in the state.
The Lane Kiffin-Rick Neuheisel rivalry got off to a solid start in its first category. Now it’s up to them to translate it on the field where it’s still been one-sided since Neuheisel’s hiring in 2007.