Dec 31, 2012; El Paso, TX, USA; Southern California Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin before the Sun Bowl against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Sun Bowl stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports

String of USC Decommitments Should Trouble Trojans


USC head coach Lane Kiffin lost another 2013 recruiting commitment on Tuesday, the latest in a string of reversals from the Trojans. Kylie Fitts, a four star-rated defensive end from Redlands, Calif., decommitted from his verbal pledge. Fitts joins five star defensive back Max Redfield, four star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes and four star wide receiver Sebastian LaRue, all of whom backed off from a signing class once rated at the top of college football.

Troubling for USC is not simply that Fitts decommitted, but what the recruit had to say was behind his decision. Per Blair Angulo of ESPNLA.com:

“Something happened recently that questioned my trust in USC, so I’m reopening my recruitment,” Fitts said. “It literally broke my heart. I broke down and cried. It was so hard for me and my family. It’s just what’s best for me at this moment. I’m putting in God’s hands and trusting that everything will work out.”

It’s one thing to lose verbal commitments; programs do every signing period. But the rash of decommitments USC is experiencing sends up a red flag about the program’s future — particularly when one recruit describes such an emotional scene.

Meanwhile, the Trojans’ losses are other programs’ gains. Exacerbating the issue is that all could end up being players the Trojans face on an annual basis. Redfield is now committed to long-time USC rival Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are also in pursuit of Vanderdoes, and made a scholarship offer to Fitts. Pac-12 rivals Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA are also among the long list of universities that recruited the Army All-American defensive end.

Because of NCAA sanctions, USC is in a position where it must win the high profile recruiting battles in order to compete at a high level. Speaking with ESPN.com’s Ivan Maisel, Kiffin summarized:

“Our goal was just to maximize the situation we were put in,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “We didn’t know exactly what that’s going to mean.”

Depth vexed the Trojans through a lackluster 2012 campaign. A preseason No. 1 ranking proved unwarranted, as USC sputtered to a 7-6 finish. Premier talent on the first strings is the only remedy Kiffin and Co. can possibly offer what promises to be a trying stretch for the program, as the grip of scholarship reductions tightens.

One of the program’s scholarships for this signing period was exhausted on Penn State transfer running back Silas Redd. Redd rushed for 905 yards on 167 carries and scored a career high nine touchdowns, despite sharing duties with Curtis McNeal.

Tags: College Football Recruiting Football

  • BillN

    You need to get all the facts before publishing a story like this.

    Here are the facts. USC must stay under the 75 scholarship limit. Seniors who graduate in December open up a slot for an EE. Unfortunately one of the seniors who was supposed to graduate early failed a class and didn’t graduate. USC had to give up one of the planned EE slots. Unfortunately, the best option was Fitts for 3 reasons:

    1. He has a broken wrist that is still healing and may keep him out of most spring practices
    2. He is local and can maintain contact easily with USC
    3. He is a long time USC follower who is more likely to accept the delay to June

    Later yesterday Fitts tweeted ‏@K_Fitts93:

    “With everything that has occurred I want people to know SC is one of the nations top programs and has one of the nations best coaching staff”

    If Kenny Bigelow’s transcripts don’t get cleared by the NCAA, Fitts may still be able to enroll early at USC.

    This is a very unusual situation caused by the overly harsh NCAA sanctions that punish primarily innocent student athletes. I can certainly understand that Fitts is very unhappy and has a good reason to feel this way, however, USC made a tough decision for the good of the team. Fitts will still have the opportunity for 4 years of scholarship at USC ($200K) and this will give him time to heal and get conditioned.

    As Dan Weber said yesterday:

    “Sure, LA judge Frederick Shaller’s opinion that the NCAA had a lawless, malicious vendetta to frame USC and Todd McNair can’t make the football front at ESPN. Not after days, weeks or moths. But Kylie Fitts can get there in a heartbeat. And beat out all those stories about Alabama oversigning for all those years and UCLA and Notre Dame running off kids and pulling scholarship offers. Yeah, ESPN will get right on those.”

  • Kyle Kensing

    I found this Daily News piece from the East Valley coach interesting: http://www.dailynews.com/ci_22337381/high-school-football-redlands-east-valleys-kylie-fitts?source=most_viewed

    Kids decommit all the time, and sometimes reaffirm their original verbal. Could certainly be the case here. But as badly as USC needs to hit on its offers given the sanctions (right or not), the rash of reversals has to be seen as difficult for the program.

  • pat

    I wonder sometimes how some of these “sports journalists” maintain their employment. If I understood the nuances of my job as little as Kyle Kensing apparently does, I would be seeking employment elsewhere.