Give three members of the incoming recruiting class who you think will make the quickest impact.
Su'a Cravens (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta): I don’t think there's any doubt that Cravens is going to be on everybody’s list. If there’s a player who is ready to go, it’s him, as he's a physically powerful athlete who plays under control and fast on the field. There is a lot of speculation about where he will eventually play, but any early playing time will likely be at safety simply because that’s where his frame is at right now. Don't rule out a move to linebacker at some point as he continues to grow.
Kenny Bigelow (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy): Bigelow is as physically ready as any high school defensive tackle you will find. Leonard Williams showed this year that a true freshman can make an impact in Orgeron’s system and there’s no reason to think that Bigelow can’t come in and do something very similar. Remember, Bigelow was the first commit in this class. There’s a reason for that.
Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer): I’m going to put Vanderdoes just slightly behind Bigelow in terms of an incoming defensive tackle being ready to go. Not only is he extremely athletic, but he has an intensity on the field that, shall we say, will fit nicely with Orgeron. There is a lot of anticipation that the Trojans are headed for some good years in the middle of the defensive line with a young group that includes names such as Williams, Antwaun Woods, Bigelow and Vanderdoes.
DB/LB Su’a Cravens: The great unknown is the future defensive system that will be implemented by the Trojans new defensive coordinator. It could decide whether Cravens is used as a linebacker or as a safety. What we do know is that with Cravens coming in the spring and being one of the best players in America, he figures to work his way into the defensive rotation regardless of the position.
DL Kenny Bigelow: Bigelow could be the Leonard Williams of the Class of 2013. Looking much more mature than your average senior in high school, it appears that Bigelow can find some playing time in much the same way Williams did. The big mystery will be whether it’s as a defensive tackle or end. Again, it might all depend on the type of new defense being run -- a 4-3 or 3-4.
WR Steven Mitchell (Mission Hills, Calif./Bishop Alemany): When you’re talking immediate impact, Mitchell has to be a prime candidate. Explosive as a wide receiver or returning kicks, this kid has “all the way in one play” written all over him. Just ask Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei how dangerous Mitchell is with the ball, as he compiled 236 total yards and touchdowns of 92 yards on a kickoff return and 63 yards on a slant pattern against the Monarchs. Mitchell almost drove Mater Dei to the point of distraction. He could crack the receiver rotation or, at the very least, be a kickoff specialist.
CB Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy): With the possible early departure of Nickell Robey to the NFL, not to mention a lack of depth and proven contributors at the cornerback spot in general, Ramsey has an opportunity to come in and make a major impact from day one at USC. With ideal 6-foot, 190-pound size to go along with quick hips and ball-hawking coverage skills, he can potentially be a very important key to the success of the Trojans’ secondary next season.
S/LB Su’a Cravens: Whether it’s at safety, linebacker or on special teams, Cravens will likely see the field immediately due to his ability as a playmaker on defense. A sure tackler who is lightning quick to the ball, the Trojans need athletes like him if they’re going to slow down the prolific spread offenses that killed them in the Pac-12 in 2012. He reminds me a little of Troy Polamalu and Matt Grootegoed, at least in terms of his gritty determination and aggressiveness on the field.
RB Ty Isaac (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic Academy): With Curtis McNeal graduating, the tailback spot is thin, and Silas Redd, Tre Madden, D.J. Morgan and Buck Allen will need help if the Trojans are going to re-establish the ground game in 2013. Isaac, who stands 6-3 and 217 pounds, can bring an extremely physical presence to the fold that USC desperately needs, especially if it takes Madden a few games to round back into form. The Trojans’ other tailback commit, Justin Davis (Stockton, Calif./Lincoln), would be next in line on my list at 3B.