USC coach Helton debuts with another banner recruiting class

BY foxsports • February 3, 2016

LOS ANGELES (AP) Clay Helton began his first signing day as Southern California's head coach with uncertainty about whether his Trojans would fill every available scholarship.

He ended it with another full deck of elite talent for the Trojans.

Helton's staff signed big names at several positions Wednesday, entirely filling their 13 remaining scholarships alongside seven early enrollees. The class was judged the Pac-12's best and the nation's ninth-best in a composite tally.

USC wasn't expected to use every available scholarship, but a series of big wins for Helton's new staff filled up their commitments and put a smile on their new boss' face.

''The great thing for me, and the advantage I had, I've been here six years,'' said Helton, an assistant coach to Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian. ''It's not like a new head coach walking in. You knew exactly what you needed personnel-wise. The other thing is you've established relationships, and those paid off today with a great class.''

Helton said the Trojans kept all of their early commitments and picked up three signatures from players who had favored other schools. Defensive back Jamel Cook, tailback Vavae Malepaei and defensive tackle Josh Fatu all chose the Trojans in the end.

Other things to know:

Top 25 Class: Yes

Best in class: Oluwole Betiku, DL, Gardena, California. The Trojans plugged a hole on their line with the commitment of a powerful prospect joining the pipeline of talent running a few miles north from Serra High School to USC.

Best of the rest: Tyler Vaughns, WR, La Puente, California, and WR Michael Pittman Jr., Westlake Village, California. USC landed two of the top receiving prospects in the country to bolster their enviable depth at the skill positions for the next starting quarterback.

Late addition: Jack Jones, WR/CB, Long Beach, California. The Trojans' next possible two-way star chose to stay close to home on decision day, announcing it with a video featuring fellow LBC denizen Snoop Dogg. ''I thought it was absolutely awesome,'' Helton said. ''I'm amazed how creative it gets every year.''

One that got away: Jonathan Kongbo, DT, Arizona Western College. The junior college standout passed on a chance to contribute immediately for the Trojans, choosing Tennessee instead.

How they'll fit in: USC has rarely hesitated to play freshmen during Helton's six seasons in the program, and this class should be no exception. The Trojans are flush with speedy juniors at their skill positions, but the new recruits will help out until it's their turn to shine in 2017.


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