The USC recruiting class had held steady for 99 days. It had filled to capacity some six months before National Signing Day, well before the start of the college football season.
Four-star athlete Max Redfield (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo) was one of eight recruits to decide on USC in July alone. On July 18 he became a coveted final piece for a class that already included program building blocks such as No. 2-rated defensive tackle Kenny Bigelow (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy), top-rated safety Su'a Cravens (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta) and No. 2-rated pocket passer Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline).
On Sunday night, Redfield -- who had downgraded his stance on the Trojans to "soft" following an official visit to Notre Dame on Oct. 12 -- officially decommitted from USC.
Now, for the first time in quite some time, there is a void in USC's recruiting class.
Where does the coaching staff go from here? Well, highly regarded safeties Leon McQuay III (Armwood, Fla./Seffner), Tahaan Goodman (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) and Priest Willis (Tempe, Ariz./Marcos de Niza) appear to be the likely choices to replace the No. 2-rated athlete in the nation. USC is in great standing with all three and is the likely leader for McQuay and Goodman.
McQuay took an unofficial visit to the USC campus over Labor Day weekend. He has consistently had the Trojans among his leaders and, if it’s any relief, has not committed elsewhere despite taking official trips to Vanderbilt and Oregon. He has officials lined up to Florida State and Michigan, and he recently told WeAreSC.com that he was working on setting up a return trip to Los Angeles.
Goodman, meanwhile, has been a USC lean for months. One of his best friends and high school teammates, four-star cornerback Chris Hawkins, is already committed to the Trojans. Hawkins said Sunday night that he has been in Goodman's ear the past few weeks. Goodman canceled an official visit to LSU this past weekend.
The USC coaches face a dilemma: sit tight and wait for the recruit they've wanted to pair with Cravens all along (Redfield), or refill the class with either McQuay or Goodman. Redfield's recruitment might drag on until February, so there is danger in following that route, especially with the small margin of error under the strict scholarship limitations.
Regardless of what's next, things at Heritage Hall just got a bit more interesting.