The 2018-19 football season was not friendly to USC. The Trojans went 5-7, making it the first time since 2000 that they failed to have a winning record. Head coach Clay Helton is on the hot seat, only one year after winning the Pac-12.
While USC did lose Sam Darnold to the NFL Draft, freshman J.T. Daniels was one of the top quarterbacks in high school last season, winning the National Gatorade Player of the Year. His debut season was rocky as he dealt with injuries and inconsistent play, but Daniels still threw for 2,672 yards and 14 touchdowns.
USC’s poor play on the field hurt in the recruiting ranking as the Trojans have the 20th best class in 2019, according to 247. It’s the lowest rated class for USC since 2001, but the Trojans had an opportunity to have a much better class. Max Preps National Player of the Year Bru McCoy signed early with USC, only to transfer to Texas within two weeks of being there.
Kliff Kingsbury’s departure impacted his decision and the loss of McCoy hurts in more ways than one. The Los Angeles area is full of talent, but it seems that none of them want to play for the Trojans. Only two of the top 20 players from the state of California signed with USC in 2019, a number far too low to compete for Pac-12 titles. Oregon and Washington has more top 20 players from California than USC, including the state’s top player Kayvon Thibodeaux.
The five-star defensive end from Thousands Oaks, California is headed to Oregon and did not really consider USC as an option. While Washington was not as successful as Oregon in California, the Huskies stole one of USC’s best prospects in wide receiver Puka Nacua. His decision to back off of USC shows that the Trojans are no longer the recruiting power in the West Coast.
A few years ago, USC owned the Western United States on the recruiting trail as the Trojans raided California, Nevada, Arizona and Washington for the top talent. Now, USC is struggling to keep the best talent from the Los Angeles. While Nacua is from Utah, he is the type of playmaker that thrives at USC. Nacua caught 103 passes for 2,336 yards and 26 touchdowns in his senior season, using his good speed and elite route running to create separation.
USC needs to regain its foothold in recruiting or else the Trojans will become irrelevant in a conference they have dominated for years.