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.