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USC Football

Blueprint to USC Restoring Recruiting Dominance Starts Here

December 5, 2019

Considering there were nearly 20 thousand empty seats at the Coliseum each Saturday this season, with little hope that'll change heading into the 2020, most of us covering the USC Football Team believed athletic director Mike Bohn would make a change with his head coach this month. But he didn't and announced on Wednesday his plans to retain Clay Helton for another season. 

Not sure what Bohn can do now to alleviate the anger many USC alums and fans are feeling this week, but he can certainly help his cause for keeping Helton by making a few key staff changes this offseason. Most USC publications will cater to the emotionally charged fan base who's pissed off and publish articles about how inept Bohn and Helton are at their jobs, but we’ll attempt to offer something of value instead.

We're not privy to any plans he has to shake up the staff like USC did a year ago with the offense,, but the Trojans have had lackluster success on the defensive side of the ball for several seasons under Clancy Pendergast. USC has also had an extremely difficult time convincing top local talent to stay home and play for the Trojans. We're not implyng they haven't recruited and signed many top players from Southern California, but the fact is they've missed on several they should have at least gotten closer looks from.

While I understand as well as anyone recruiting class rankings don't always matter and kids are vastly underrated each year, last recruiting cycle the Trojans ended up with the No. 20 ranked recruiting class. That's the lowest ranking USC’s had in two decades. Let me be clear, USC signed a boatload of really good and underrated players, but it was a struggle to do it. 

The Trojans had to get in on quite a few out-of-state kids like Adonis Otey‍, Briton Allen‍ and Dorian Hewett‍ to add enough depth at defensive back, just for the 2019 season. And we should add they all played in come capacity and played extremely well for a group of young players. It also took Chris Steele and Bru McCoy transferring to USC after spending a semester at other schools. 

Why has it been so difficult for a school of USC’ stature and a football program with such great history and tradition, to keep top local and West Coast kids at home? A 5-7 record obviously mattered significantly a year ago, but it's been a struggle with recruiting for the Trojans again this year. 

One reason is USC’s recruiting staff is vastly undersized and I also don't see a staff collectively recruiting at the level Oregon, Washington, ASU and all of the Elite programs in the country do. There's a sense or urgency missing at USC and this isn't me just saying this, I talk to the high school players, their families and coaches and USC is getting out recruited. In fact, Chris Steele and Bru McCoy ended up at USC despite the Trojans failing to do a great job recruiting them. It took them spending three months at Florida and Texas for them realize they'd be happier at home. 

Steele even committed to Oregon before signing with the Trojans last Spring. It shouldn't be this hard for a school as great as USC. So, how can the Trojans immediately help themselves with their recruiting efforts and add quality coaches to the staff....if Bohn is even considering any coaching changes on defense? By the way, he simply needs to leave the offense alone and pay Graham Harrell whatever the hell he wants, too.

Overall the coaches at USC are working their tails off and doing a great job. So is the recruiting staff assembled over the last year. Their biggest hurdle this year has been the uncertainty surrounding Clay Helton's status as head coach. But there are many 2020 targets USC looked like nearly a lock to sign at one point who aren't even considering the Trojans now. Elias Ricks‍, Myles Murao‍ and Jermaine Burton‍ are just three of them. 

Another issue shared with us is some kids and their parents don't believe USC does a great job of developing talent. Whether that's true or not is irrelevant in some cases, it's a perception Helton and his staff must overcome. I believe they'll finish strong with recruiting this cycle and even sign a few that will shock USC fans, but it's been another underwhelming year from a fans perspective. It's also easy to understand why at this late stage of the recruiting process. USC has just 11 verbal commits and ranked No. 70 in the nation.

We understand that ranking will skyrocket when kids commit and the nearly 22 man class is filled in February, but annually counting on a strong finish each year is a lot like dogs chasing cars, it eventually won't end well.

So, what can USC do to in the near future to help with the 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes and add quality coaches at the same time? Hire guys like Calabasas head coach and Trojan Hall of Famer Chris Claiborne, and Miami Tight Ends coach Stephen Field. I'm not as athletic director and certainly not qualified to be one, but I feel extremely strong about what these guys would add to the USC Football Team as coaches and recruiters.

Claiborne was an All-American LB at USC, its first Butkus Award winner and played nine years in the NFL. He was also Antonio Pierce’s defensive coordinator for two years at his alam mater Long Beach Poly and been the head coach at Calabasas the last two years. He led the Coyotes to 10-3 and 7-3 records. Chris has served as the Linebackers cosch for the prestigious event called The Opening, all of the kids in Southern California know him, respect him and would want to play for him.

If the Trojans were able to add him to the staff, it greatly enhances the chances of signing five-star LB Justin Flowe‍ and nearly guarantees USC becomes the school to beat for most elite linebackers and perhaps D-Linemen. I can't overstate enough the impact Chris Claiborne would have with recruiting. I've had players, parents and high school coaches tell me how they believe he'd impact recruiting. The excitement he'd create in Southern California would be a tremendous shot in the arm for the Trojans. Plus Claiborne can flat out coach and would be a huge addition in that regard. He'd also have a impressive number of former players rallying around him.

“Wow, that would be crazy if Claiborne was there (USC),” said Flowe.

Another coach I strongly believe would have a huge impact as a coach and recruiter at USC is current Miami tight ends coach Stephen Field.

Here's the BIO for Field from the Oregon Athletics Official Site.

***One of the most dedicated and nationally connected recruiters in the country, Stephen Field joined Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal’s staff in March of 2017, as the Director of Recruiting.
Prior to his arrival in Eugene, Field spent the 2017 season at Louisville as the Director of High School Relations as the program’s NFL Liaison.
In his one year at Louisville, Field helped put together one of the top recruiting classes in school history in 2018. The class featured 22 student-athletes, including 19 during the December early signing period, eight of which enrolled in January. The signing class featured a school-best 11 four-star recruits and a pair of Under Armour All-Americans.

Field’s return to collegiate football came in 2016 when joined the staff at Florida A&M as the tight ends coach and Recruiting Coordinator.

An established high school coach in the state of Florida, Field was highly recognized for his ability to develop talent at the high school and collegiate level. He helped develop over 100 collegiate athletes during his coaching career, with nearly two dozen former players who are or were in the NFL, including 2016 NFL first round pick and current Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Artie Burns.

From 2014-15, Field was a highly decorated head football coach and offensive coordinator at North Marion Senior High School. The 2015 Florida Athletic Coaches Association (FACA) Coach of the Year, and a two-time WHOA Coach of the Year (2014, 2015), Field's teams broke seven school records offensively, averaging 40.5 points per game.

A native of West Palm Beach, Fla., Field guided his 2015 team to the regional quarterfinals, after an outstanding regular season, when his squad led the county in passing, rushing and scoring.

Field was selected the offensive coordinator for the 2015 Offense-Defense All-American game in Orlando, Fla., leading the team to victory on ESPN, and produced six players selected to play in the All-American game, a Marion County record.

Prior to his stint at North Marion, Field served as head coach and offensive coordinator at Miami Northwestern High (2012-14), where he restored the perennial prep power to prominence, guiding them to the playoffs and a regional appearance in his first season.

During his tenure at Northwestern, 46 football players – tops in Florida – signed collegiate football scholarships.

Field also served a three-year stretch at Hampton (Va.) University (2009-11) as running backs coach, recruiting coordinator, run game coordinator and director of operations. At Hampton, he coached and developed two of the MEAC's top running backs who ranked in the league's top 10 in rushing.

Before coaching at Hampton, Field was a three-year defensive staff assistant and special teams coordinator at the University of Miami (2006-08). He recruited NFL talents Travis Benjamin, Laron Byrd and Damien Berry.

Before Miami, Field, served as an assistant coach at Glades Central High School in Belle Glade, Fla., serving as the offensive run game coordinator, running backs coach and academic coach. While at Glades Central, he coached back-to-back 1,000 yard rushers in Aston Samuels and Damien Berry. In 2006, Glades Central won the Class 3A championship.

Stephen Field is the current TE Coach at Miami and coaches Mackey Award Finalist Brevin Jordan. He's also the main recruiter in Southern California for the Hurricanes and a main reason Flowe is seriously considering him. His connections in Florida would also provide USC a great shot at luring some of the top talent from the Sunshine State. He's also developed relationships in Southern California while recruiting for Oregon and Miami. 

You want savage recruiters, guys who take losing personal and connect extremely well with the high school kids, Claiborne and Field offer a program that and much more.

I wrote this article not knowing if Mike Bohn or USC have any plans to shake up the staff, but if they do, those two dudes would kill it on and off the field (pardon the pun) for the Trojans.


Discussion from...

Blueprint to USC Restoring Recruiting Dominance Starts Here

9,538 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 1 yr ago by Prometheus1354
DJ Nice
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I couldn't agree more with you. One of issues fans have with coach Helton is that he's loyal to a fault. He plays upperclassmen over underclassmen when it's obvious the younger players are more talented. He gives his assistant coaches to much autonomy. You have to have to leadership to overrule your assistants. I mean it's his butt that's gonna take the heat. Who ever heard of a DC that doesn't recruit? He's bland and doesn't connect well with the kids or parents and doesn't have that juice, that fire. And special teams coach...what's so special about the job he's doing? I'm telling you, if we can bring in a couple of good defensive coaches who can get this defense ranked in top 20, we'll be ranked in top 10 and on the cusp of CFP playoffs. We're not as far off as everyone thinks. The head coach is only as good as the staff he hires.
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Clairborne and/or Field would be huge additions to this coaching staff. Either would also be insane to accept a position under Helton...why would any decent coach put themselves in this situation?

There's much easier ways to commit career suicide.
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Well unless Clay hires Chris as his new DL coach it's not gonna happen. But maybe now that Clueless Clancy is gone this may vey well happen. I know CC was an all world LB. DC Orlando may well feel he would understand better than most just what the LB core needs in the form of 'protection' from the opposing O-Line.

CC would be able to instruct the DL on techniques that not only allow them too properly do their respective job but also allow the LB's too do theirs. He also would help clean up the p*ss poor angles taken at some very inopportune times last year preventing the defense getting off the field.
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