UCLA-USC: Who won the football recruiting battle?

The football programs at both UCLA and USC have taken strides in the right direction after forgettable 2020 recruiting cycles. The Trojans have one of the best recruiting classes in the Pac-12 and in the nation this year, but is it enough to keep the Bruins in hibernation?

When you combined both the spring and fall enrollment of student-athletes, USC landed over a dozen four-star recruits. Head coach Clay Helton and his staff have been hard at work during the pandemic to get the Trojans back on top of the Pac-12.

You can’t mention USC’s outstanding recruiting class without talking about five-star recruit, Korey Foreman. It is impossible to understate the importance of Foreman and what he means to the Trojan program. Coming out of Corona Centennial, Foreman was the top-ranked prospect in California.

Foreman, who was selected to the 2020 PrepStar Dream Team as a senior and made the MaxPreps Junior All-American First Team as a junior, originally committed to Clemson. Foreman decommitted and signed on with USC, immediately elevating USC’s recruiting class.

It has been five years since USC landed the state’s top-ranked prospect. Last spring, USC released their promo video with a clear message and new slogan, “Take back the West,”  and with Foreman signed, they are on their way.

UCLA may have lost the fight with their crosstown rivals,  but it wasn’t a first-round knockout. UCLA’s recruiting class is nothing to scoff at. The Bruins secured four four-star recruits. That’s something that the Bruins have a lot to be optimistic about as the team moves forward in another year under the Chip Kelly regime. 

UCLA’s recruiting class is headlined by defensive end Quintin Somerville and defensive tackle Tiaoalii Savea, who both ranked high at their respective positions. Somerville, who backed out of his commitment to Michigan, is ranked as the nation’s 108th top prospect in the 2021 ESPN 300 high school football recruiting class.

Savea is football prospect No. 126, according to the 2021 ESPN 300 list. UCLA has kept their positive momentum rolling into their class of 2022 commits with IMG Academy tight end Jack Pederson. 

Pederson is the biggest commitment to UCLA in three classes. Originally from Murrietta, California, the four-star tight end is one of the best at his position in the nation. 24/7 Sports has Pederson as the No. 7-rated tight end in the country. Pederson, who moved to Florida to play at IMG Academy, made his announcement on playing for the Bruins via Twitter. 

UCLA quarterback rushed for 58 yards and passed for 364 yards and four touchdowns in the Bruins' 43-38 defeat to the USC Trojans at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Photo credit: UCLA Athletics
UCLA quarterback rushed for 58 yards and passed for 364 yards and four touchdowns in the Bruins’ 43-38 defeat to the USC Trojans at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Photo credit: UCLA Athletics

“Momma, I’m coming HOME!!,” Pederson said in his tweet.

UCLA nabbed 14 student-athletes back in December to be part of its recruiting class.

Staying put in the SoCal has become a recurring theme for some recruits. That was made clear when Foreman signed his letter of intent to stay home rather than play elsewhere. Raesjon Davis, an outside linebacker at national powerhouse Mater Dei, is the No. 3 ranked prospect in California.

Davis signed up to be a Trojan shortly after Foreman did. The Foreman signing gives USC the edge over UCLA in the recruiting battle and could be a game-changer for the Trojans down the line-off and on the football field. 

“It, one, showed other guys that here’s one of the best players in the world and he is staying right here to accomplish all of his dreams,” Helton said.

It is undeniable that the Foreman signing is expected to be a difference-maker for the Trojans. In some ways, it has already paid dividends for the recruiting class of 2022. Domani Jackson, a five-star cornerback at Mater Dei, has already committed to USC.

USC and UCLA college football
The rivalry: USC and UCLA college football recruiting battles are intense. Photo credit: UCLA Athletics

Jackson is the No. 5 ranked player in the nation and No. 1 in California. USC has now received commitments from the No. 1 prospect in the state for two recruiting cycles in a row. “Take back the West” is the plan for the Trojans and it sure is looking like things are going their way.,

With now back-to-back No. 1 prospects committing to USC in consecutive recruiting cycles, it will be hard for the Bruins to make up enough ground to win this intra-city battle.

“We are very excited to welcome our 2021 signing class to the Trojan Family,” said Helton.  “With a combination of elite young talent and experienced transfers, we were able to fill some significant needs as we head into next season.  These men possess great character, talent and maturity, and we believe they will be able to make an immediate impact and help us get to our goal of a championship.” 

USC 2021 recruiting class: Korey Foreman, SDE, Raesjon Davis, OLB, Jaxson Dart, PRO, Miller Moss, PRO, Ceyair Wright, CB, Julien Simon, OLB, Kyron Ware-Hudson, WR, Michael Trigg, TE, Prophet Brown, CB, Jay Toia, DT, Calen Bullock, ATH, Anthony Beavers Jr., ATH, Brandon Campbell, RB, Michael Jackson, WR, Xamarion Gordon, S, Jaylin Smith, ATH, Mason Murphy, OT, Lake McRee, TE, Colin Mobley, SDE, Joseph Manjack, WR, Ty Buchanan, OG, Maximus Gibbs, OG, Keaontay Ingram, RB, K.D. Nixon, WR, Xavion Alford, S, Ishmael Sopsher, DT.

UCLA 2021 recruiting class: Quintin Somerville, SDE, Tiaoalii Savea, SDE, Devin Kirkwood, ATH, Thomas Cole, OT, Keontez Lewis, WR, Josh Moore, S, Christian Burkhalter, WDE, Deshun Murrell, RB, Noah Pulealii, OG, Isaiah Newcombe, ATH, Ezavier Staples, WR, Kajiya Hollawayne, DUAL, DJ Justice, WR, Garrett DiGiorgio, OT, A.J. Campbell, WDE, Benjamin Roy, OC, Tyler Kiehne, SDE, Hayden Nelson, WDE, Kaleb Ford-Dement, CB, Zack Charbonnet, RB, Cameron Johnson, S, Ethan Garbers, PRO, Kam Brown, WR, Jordan Genmark Heath, S.

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