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USC SCOOP'S Top 2022 Prospects By Position - Defense

April 29, 2021

USC SCOOP has been traveling the country extensively since our inception three years ago. This provides us unique opportunities to annually see many of the Elite prospects in person from across the country.

The Trojans have offered all of the players on our list, but that wasn't a requirement to be added it to it. In years past a significant number of these prospects wouldn't have even been considering the Trojans, but much has changed within the walls of the McKay Center since the disappointing conclusion to the 2019 season. Not do most of the kids on our list have interest in the Trojans, most have set up June official visits.

Many of the changes and staff additions are the result of Mike Bohn’s and Brandon Sosna’s unyielding commitment to fielding a championship level football program. That entails providing Clay Helton the finest assistant coaches and support staff. In other words, USC is finally funding the football program adequately.

Today we offer our latest addition of the Top Defensive Prospects we've seen in person by position with video and a few comments on each. There will be five defensive backs, three linebackers and three defensive linemen listed.

Here we go...


1.) Domani Jackson‍ - Jackson is one of the few 2022 USC Commits, but he’s a huge 5-Star commit and an extremely significant part of the Trojans recruiting other elite prospects from coast to coast. He communicates with key targets in Southern California, Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, Florida and elsewhere. Nearly every Top player in the country knows who Domani is and he's highly motivated to help his future school sign them.

2.) Gentry Williams‍ - Williams is one of the most impressive athletes in the country and could be a big time collegiate player at wide receiver or cornerback. Not many can actually pull off playing on both sides of the ball, but Williams absolutely can.

He should be close to 100 percent after a 2020 season ending ACL injury and has a June 18-20 USC Official Visit Set. He's also one of the dudes who regular communicates with Domani Jackson and we expect Jackson to be on campus when Williams visits. 


1.) Travis Hunter‍ - Hunter is committed to Florida St., and one of the few on my list not even looking at the Trojans, but I could make an argument for him being the No. 1 overall 2022 prospect. Doesn't matter if he's lined up at wide receiver or defensive back, he's been the best player on the field at three separate events I've attended.

2.) Zion Branch‍ - Branch is the top-ranked 2022 baller from Nevada and would likely be the top safety in most of the United States, including California. He has impressive size at 6-2.5 and 190 pounds, exceptional speed for a guy his size, he covers a lot of ground in a hurry, welcomes physical contact, he's a high character kid and comes from a very tight knit family. If the Trojans were to sign Zion, chances are high they'd have the inside track for his 2023 WR brother Zachariah Branch‍.

Branch has a June 18-20 USC Official Visit Set and like Gentry Williams, has a close relationship with Domani. We made our USC prediction in January and feel there's no reason to change it.

3.) Bryce Anderson‍ - Anderson could be our choice at Nickel just for conversation purposes. We first saw him last January at a Pylon 7v7 event in Lancaster (TX) where he was ballin for Ro Simon and Fast Houston. Anderson was a recent LSU Commit at the time, but he's since decommitted and the general feeling is he'll ultimately end up a Texas Longhorn. But Anderson is an exceptional talent and has a very solid relationship with USC coaches Craig Naivar, Bryan Carrington and Jeff Martin.

He has a USC Official Visit Set for June 11-13 and while we're told staying closer to home is his preference, we believe the Trojans will give him a lot to think about.


1.) Harold Perkins‍ - We've seen Harold play one time and there's no doubt he's a true five-star linebacker. We were at Cypress Park HS last week and spent 90 minutes with him and head football coach Greg Rogers. Perkins drips swag, has zero issues with confidence, he's impressive physically and far faster than you'd expect from a 6-2.5 and 205 pound linebacker. He moves more like a safety, but still hits like an angry backer should. He also plays running back for Cy Park and gained nearly 1,500 all purpose yards last season. 

His official visit to USC isn't set, but mid June will be the likely time frame for that. He’ll also be in Los Angeles next month for a Pylon 7v7 Event. The Trojans just began recruiting Perkins and have a ton of ground to make up on Texas A&M and Florida, but if Bryan Carrington and Jeff Martin can sell L.A., the Name and Likeness/Branding opportunities USC and where it's located provides, perhaps the Trojans will have a slim shot?

2.) David Bailey‍ - I get asked each year for a list of “must get" SoCal prospects and Mater Dei outside linebacker David Bailey makes the list in 2022. He's not big on Social Media and he's not an attention seeker off the field, but on the field he's as entertaining as anyone in the country. Bailey will continue to grow, get stronger and continue learning to play his position, but he's already a prolific pass rusher much like Kayvon Thibodeux was at Oaks Christian.

At times he's far too much to handle 1on1 and against Servite had a sack or tackle for loss on three consecutive plays...inside the 10 yard line.

We believe this will be a USC vs Stanford battle, but Bailey hasn't really immersed himself with recruiting yet. He plans to take several unofficial visits this summer, including USC, then take official visits in the Fall. Will make a school decision very late in the process.

3.) Niuafe Tuihalamaka‍ - Junior was the first 2022 verbal commit for the Trojans, but lack of communication and neglecting to recruit mom and pop resulted in his decommitment earlier this year. Not long after that, the extremely talented Bishop Alemany standout left the Trojans off his list of Top 5 Schools. USC, his dream school, has since recovered a bit and Junior is in the process of setting up a USC Official Visit, but his decommitment was a huge blown to the staff. 

As of now he's scheduled to take official visits to Notre Dame, Texas, Oregon and will likely add USC and Stanford officials. Michigan could also enter the picture for a visit.


1.) Mykel Williams‍ - We've visited Columbus (GA) and seen Williams twice at Hardaway HS. He's an extremely athletic, agile, explosive, focused and serious about his future. He's a team leader for the Hawks and one of the most sought after Strong Side Defensive Ends in the nation. Was recently ranked a 5-Star prospect and definitely deserves it.

Usually elite defensive linemen from the heart of the Southeast don't serious consider the Trojans, but Williams’s brother Michael Trigg‍ signed with USC in January and Vic So’oto, Gavin Morris and Armond Hawkins Jr. have crushed it with their recruiting effort. A few months ago Williams said So'oto and Hawkins were the best recruiters in the nation. Made us wonder if Hawkins took it easy on Williams in Madden or EA’s NCAA Football 21?

Williams has a USC Official Visit Set for June 11-13 with fellow Georgia DL Christen Miller from Atlanta. Could the Trojans actually land thes two gamechanging linemen? It won't be easy, but it's definitely a realistic outcome at this point. Williams talks frequently with Domani Jackson and Korey Foreman.

2.) Christen Miller‍ - I met Miller for the first time in March. Was fortunate to hit up Cedar Grove HS just south of Atlanta and watch a workout. I'm not sure you'll find a more impressive big man who has the measurable, the movement or motor Miller has. He also has one of the most engaging personalities of anyone from the class of 2022. His Top 3 Schools are USC, Ohio St. and Georgia. He plans to to Officially Visit all three in June. His USC visit is June 11-13 as mentioned above.

Miller and his father took an unofficial to Los Angeles and USC earlier this month. Ceyair Wright‍  hosted them for part of one day. Miller has serious interest in acting and a huge draw for him at USC is the prestigious School of Cinema Arts.

3.) Chris McClellan‍ - I was with McClellan the day USC offered. At that time he said he'd always had interest in the Trojans and would definitely set an official visit for June...which he’s since done. He'll visit with Gentry Williams June 18-20. 

Not sure there's a prospect in the country who was hotter than Williams this Spring. He's added 16+ offers in the past few months and he's not done yet. Another exceptionally talented big man you seem to find at many schools in Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida etc., but not so much on the West Coast. It's why the Trojans are hitting those states and the Southeast for several Offensive and Defensive Linemen.

Will likely be tough to beat the Sooner with McClellan, but he has strong interest in a Sports Broadcasting career after football. USC has one of the best programs and locations in the country for that.


***We’ll publish the USC SCOOP list of Top Offensve Prospects Friday



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USC SCOOP'S Top 2022 Prospects By Position - Defense

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