Early enrollee McQuay sparks momentum

Long overdue for positive news, the USC Trojans finally got some Friday in the form of a commitment from highly coveted safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood), live during the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Quite frankly, USC needed this one.

Following a recent rough stretch -- both in recruiting and on the field -- the addition of McQuay to a dwindling class is both significant and encouraging. If the Trojans plan to regain the momentum they built in the summer, securing a pledge from the nation's No. 3 safety is a good start.

The ESPN 150 member joins a recruiting class that has suffered four defections since early November. With the decommitments of athlete Max Redfield, defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, and receivers Sebastian LaRue and Eldridge Massington, the perception of USC among recruits appeared to change. A vastly underwhelming 7-6 season and Hyundai Sun Bowl loss to Georgia Tech certainly didn’t help the cause, but McQuay’s commitment is proof that belief in the program still exists.

While some stepped off the ship to reassess further options, McQuay hopped on board Friday in front of a national television audience.

McQuay and his parents officially visited USC on Dec. 14 after previously seeing the campus during Labor Day weekend. The Trojans had the final say, after official visits to Vanderbilt (Oct. 12), Oregon (Oct. 26), Michigan (Nov. 9) and Florida State (Nov. 23), and that proved to be a crucial factor that allowed USC assistant coach Tee Martin to seal the deal. Martin had traveled to Florida in early December to spend an entire day with McQuay and, shortly thereafter, brought along the departing Monte Kiffin for an in-home visit with the entire family.

In this case, the absence of a defensive coordinator on staff had no effect.

Though McQuay and his family remained mum following the official visit to USC, McQuay’s father, Leon Jr., published on his Twitter account a video of his son experimenting with the sound board in an on-campus studio. In the video, McQuay is seen sitting in front of a computer monitor while Martin bobs his head to the sound that blares through the speakers. McQuay has aspirations to become a music producer and the buzzing Los Angeles industry was a favorable selling point for the Trojans.

The commitment carries great importance for the Trojans because McQuay is an early enrollee. Like top-rated safety and fellow early enrollee Su’a Cravens, McQuay will have the opportunity to compete for immediate playing time this spring as USC looks to fill the void left by the graduation of T.J. McDonald, Jawanza Starling and Drew McAllister.

There had been a pressing need for another safety in the class since Redfield’s decommitment, and McQuay certainly softened the blow.