USC Football Recruiting 2017: Breaking Down the Offensive Line

Signing Day 2017 is just around the corner for USC football, and with two All-American honorees at tackle graduating, the offensive line is a priority.

As the USC football team looks to the Rose Bowl on January 2, they look even further ahead to the needs of a roster which will undergo significant changes upon the completion of the 2016 season.

This includes peering out on the recruiting horizon to peruse the needs of position units which will need to be addressed due to graduation and/or injuries.

While the defensive line will continue to be a focus of those recruiting efforts, another pressing need will be the “big uglies” on the offensive line.

With both tackles –Zach Banner and Chad Wheeler– graduating and guard Damien Mama testing the NFL waters, USC’s dominant 2016 offensive line is likely to see a major reshuffling for the 2017 season.

RELATED: Chad Wheeler Earns First-Team All-American Honors

Also, injuries and slower-than-expected progress from some linemen on the roster have provided a greater sense of urgency regarding the future.

Here is a look at the 2016 Trojan offensive line:

Player Year 2016 Role

Zach Banner

Senior

Starting RT

Viane Talamaivao

Junior

Starting RG

Nico Falah

Junior (RS)

Starting C

Chad Wheeler

Senior

Starting LT

Damien Mama

Junior

Starting LG

Khaliel Rodgers

Junior

2nd-Team C

Chris Brown

Sophomore

2nd-Team LG

Chuma Edoga

Sophomore

2nd-Team OT

Jordan Simmons

Senior (RS)

2nd-Team RG

Jordan Austin

Sophomore (RS)

3rd-Team RG

Roy Hemsley

Freshman (RS)

3rd-Team LG

Clayton Johnston

Freshman (RS)

3rd-Team LT

Frank Martin

Freshman

4th-Team RG

Toa Lobendahn

Junior

Injured (Knee)

Nathan Smith

Freshman

Injured (Knee)

While it should be noted that Jordan Simmons is expected to apply to the NCAA for an extra year with a medical hardship —which may or may not be granted— consideration must be given to the fact that Khaliel Rodgers has battled injuries throughout his Trojan career.

This means that as much as sixty percent of the starters could be gone after this year and two players —Lobendahn and Smith— will be coming back from significant knee injuries.

Sep 26, 2015; Tempe, AZ, USA; Southern California Trojans offensive tackle Zach Banner (73) against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As such, the Trojans coaching staff has extended a variety of offers to premier offensive linemen around the country. So far, USC has received verbal commitments from three-star* tackle, Andrew Vorhees, four-star Alijah Vera-Tucker (Tackle) and four-star Brett Neilon (Center).

MUST READ: The 20 Best Three-Star Recruits to Play at USC

The Trojans also have several offers out to uncommitted offensive line prospects including five-star Foster Sarell and four-stars Austin Jackson and Stephan Zebie, among others.

Of those just mentioned, Jackson appears the most likely to sign on the Trojans dotted line, although Sarell did take a visit on November 25th, which he appeared to enjoy.

With the Trojans likely to take as many as five offensive linemen in this class, it appears they still have work to do, which may include “flipping” an already committed recruit.

The player most likely to fit that description would be five-star Wyatt Davis, a local product (Bellflower, CA.) committed to Ohio State. According to Eleven Warriors, he denies rumblings that his pledge may be shaky.

Whatever the case, the Trojans will need to replenish the offensive line to continue their push to return to prominence in 2017 and beyond.

MORE RECRUITING: Tracking USC Football’s Current Commitments

Of course, a Rose Bowl win for USC on January 2nd may change things come February 1st, when high school football players can sign with their college programs of choice.

If that is the case, the Trojans may have more high school offensive linemen wanting to come to USC then they know what to do with.

And wouldn’t that be a welcomed problem for Clay Helton to deal with?

*Ratings derived from the 247Sports Composite.

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