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2014 USC Recruiting Class: Linebackers

Mike Piellucci |
February 5, 2014 | 2:45 p.m. PST

Associate Sports Editor

Olajuwon Tucker is the star of USC's linebacking crop. (Twitter/@BThree4)
Olajuwon Tucker is the star of USC's linebacking crop. (Twitter/@BThree4)
USC’s 2014 signing class is in the books, and Steve Sarkisian’s inaugural batch of 19 Trojans includes four linebackers, three of whom will line up on the outside of new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox’s hybrid 3-4 defense.

The standout among that trio is Gardena (Serra) product Olajuwon Tucker. On a defense that also includes the state’s best player in Adoree’ Jackson, and two blue-chip juniors in Rasheem Green and John Houston, the late-blooming Tucker was often cited by Cavaliers coach Scott Altenberg as his team’s best player this year. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, Tucker has a quick first step that will make him an asset as an edge rusher, and the athleticism to drop into coverage as well.

It’s a similar story with Boise, Idaho product Don Hill, who is already enrolled on campus. The Shane Battier lookalike joined fellow Trojan signees Rahshead Johnson and Jonathan Lockett in following Sarkisian from Washington to USC. Standing 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, he might be the most physically developed of the outside linebackers, and still has plenty of room to add strength to his frame.

The third member of the trio is Malik Dorton, who like Tucker is a product of one of Los Angeles’ glamor programs, that being Bellflower’s St. John Bosco. Dorton is the thickest of the group at 6-foot-2, 250 pounds and consequently is more of a downhill pass rusher than Hill or Tucker. He struggled at times against elite competition, so a redshirt year could be in order.

The last name in the linebacker class is Uchenna Nwosu, who will likely line up on the inside. The Narbonne product is perhaps the most overlooked member of this class, but his versatility and coverage skills had some schools recruiting him as a safety. Unlike the group on the outside, Nwosu’s path to playing time will be a little slower with the depth at inside linebacker, which should give him time to add some needed strength to his 205-pound frame.

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