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USC football: Signing day this year won't be a recruiting bonanza, and here's why

USC football: Signing day this year won't be a recruiting bonanza, and here's why
The Trojans will wait to hear from Olaijah Griffin of Mission Viejo, considered a top cornerback and expected to choose between USC, Alabama and Tennessee. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

USC is not expected to make its usual signing-day splash Wednesday, but the Trojans are expected to finish strong.

Coach Clay Helton signed 10 recruits to letters of intent during college football's inaugural early signing period in December, and few scholarships remain for national signing day.

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A lack of attrition on USC's roster, which is limited to 85 scholarship players, has caused for a logjam in the 2018 recruiting class.

Despite the expectation that USC will sign only half a dozen players Wednesday, Greg Biggins, the national recruiting analyst for 247Sports.com, said it likely would be an impressive bunch.

"They're still going to finish super, super strong," Biggins said. "There are five or six elite guys and I think they're all leaning to USC, or at least have them in their final two."

Santa Ana Mater Dei quarterback JT Daniels and receiver Amon-ra St. Brown, both considered elite prospects, have committed, along with St. Louis (Mo.) Chaminade defensive lineman Trevor Trout and Portland (Ore.) Central Catholic linebacker Eli'Jah Winston.

"They are going to get quality players," said Ryan Abraham, who has covered USC recruiting for 22 years for USCFootball.com. "They're just not going to get a number of them this year."

USC's class is ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 and No. 12 nationally by 247Sports.com

Linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu, teammates with Daniels and St. Brown at Mater Dei, will announce his decision between USC, UCLA and Notre Dame on Wednesday. The Trojans also will wait to hear from Olaijah Griffin of Mission Viejo and Isaac Taylor-Stuart of La Mesa Helix. Both are considered top cornerbacks and expected to choose between USC, Alabama and Tennessee.

Receiver Devon Williams of Lancaster Antelope Valley and tight end Michael Ezeike of Ontario Colony also are in the mix for the Trojans.

"They have a small class and have to be selective this year," Biggins said.

USC also will have a smaller margin for error, Abraham said, because the early signing period eliminated several recruits who signed elsewhere and otherwise could typically serve as the Trojans' backup plan.

"Schools like USC kind of like to poach at the end if things don't work out," Abraham said. "The early signing period certainly made that harder."

Six players who signed in December enrolled in spring courses and are expected to participate in spring practices: linebackers Kana'i Mauga of Waianae in Hawaii and Raymond Scott of Harbor City Narbonne; defensive backs Chase Williams of Eastvale Roosevelt and Talanoa Hufanga of Crescent Valley in Corvallis, Ore.; defensive lineman Caleb Tremblay of American River Community College in Sacramento, and offensive lineman Justin Dedich of Temecula Chaparral.

Four early signees will enroll in the fall: linebacker Palaie Gaoteote IV of Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas; defensive lineman Abdul-Malik McCain of San Juan Capistrano JSerra; running back Markese Stepp of Cathedral in Indianapolis, and offensive lineman Liam Douglass of Studio City Harvard Westlake.

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Follow Lindsey Thiry on Facebook and Twitter @LindseyThiry

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