PHOENIX — Southern California was one of college football’s best teams last season, winning its final nine games after stumbling out of the gate.
The Trojans are poised to keep the momentum going after pulling in the Pac-12’s top recruiting class.
Bolstered by several late additions, USC had the fourth overall national recruiting class on Wednesday, according to the 247Sports composite.
Clay Helton had a strong class in his first season a year ago, bringing in a class that was tops in the Pac-12 and ninth overall in a composite ranking.
His second season in the recruiting chair was even better, a group that includes two five-star players, 12 four-stars and 10 three-stars.
Running back Stephen Carr, from Summit High School in Fontana, California, was the headliner of the class heading into a signing day, ranked as the No. 3 player at his position nationally.
The Trojans kept adding potential star players once signing day started.
Offensive lineman Austin Jackson, the top recruit coming out of Arizona, picked USC over Alabama, Oregon and Arizona State. Joseph Lewis, a wide receiver from Los Angeles, made a late-day choice to join the Trojans and his four-star teammate Greg Johnson joined him a few moments later.
Defensive tackle Jay Tufele, a 300-pounder from Utah, picked USC over the hometown Utes, Ohio State and Brigham Young. Tight end Josh Falo from California picked the Trojans over Oregon and Levi Jones, a linebacker from Austin, Texas, pulled off Florida State and Florida shirts before revealing a USC shirt to announce his choice.
Stanford was second in the Pac-12 and 14th overall with David Shaw’s latest class and UCLA came in at No. 19. Oregon was No. 20 with its first recruiting class under Willie Taggart and Washington, coming off its trip to the College Football Playoff semifinals, came in at No. 22.
Shaw has had success luring top-tier talent to Stanford despite rigorous academic standards and pulled it off again this season with a class that’s among the nation’s best despite having just 14 players. The Cardinal may have their passing combination of the future after landing quarterback Davis Mills and tight end Colby Parkinson. Mills, from the Atlanta area, is the nation’s top-rated pro-style quarterback and could be Stanford’s best quarterback since Andrew Luck. Parkinson, from Westlake Village, California, is the nation’s top-rated tight end. Stanford also signed bookend offensive tackles Foster Sarell of Washington and Walker Little of Texas. Connor Wedington of Washington also had one of the more interesting reveals, flashing a snowboard with Stanford Cardinal on the bottom.
Oregon could have fallen off in recruiting following a 4-8 season and the dismissal of Mark Helfrich. Taggart made sure the Ducks stayed near the top of the national rankings. The former South Florida coach landed five four-star recruits and 19 three-stars, a group headed by offensive tackle George Moore of San Mateo, California, and four-star quarterback Braxton Burmeister of La Jolla, California. Oregon also lured offensive lineman Cody Shear from Arizona and Deommodore Lenoir, a four-star athlete from Los Angeles, picked the Ducks late on signing day.
Arizona did not finish high in the rankings — No. 45 — but coach Rich Rodriguez was able to keep his family close by signing his son, Rhett. A three-star dual-threat quarterback, Rhett Rodriguez signed his letter of intent at a ceremony at Catalina Foothills High School with his father in attendance .