With Reggie Bush and LenDale White leaving early for the NFL, and top returnee Desmond Reed recovering from a knee injury, USC's recruiting priority was at running back. The Trojans signed four, including Parade All-Americas Stafon Johnson of Dorsey High in Los Angeles, Emmanuel Moody of Coppell ( Texas) High and C.J. Gable of Sylmar ( Calif.) High, who may play defense. All will have a chance to play as freshmen, but the most likely standout next fall is Johnson (left), a 6'1" 210-pounder whom Scout.com ranked as the nation's No. 2 running back. "If this were the NFL draft, the Denver Broncos would take him in the first round," says offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin. "He's a lot like LenDale."
Other signees from around the country who could be breakout performers in their first year:
? Ohio State RB Chris Wells. The nation's top-ranked recruit, Wells (below), a 6'1" 225-pounder out of Garfield High in Akron, is a classic power back. He's expected to push Antonio Pittman, a junior-to-be who's more of a slasher.
? Georgia QB Matthew Stafford. This consensus top five quarterback out of Highland Park High in Dallas--he is taking classes in Athens--will get a shot to beat out less heralded upperclassmen Joe Tereshinksi and Blake Barnes.
? Florida WR Percy Harvin. The speedster from Virginia Beach should fit nicely into coach Urban Meyer's offense. "You watch three plays and think he's as good a football player and athlete as there is in America," said Meyer.
? Texas QB Jevan Snead. The top quarterback at last month's U.S. Army All-America Bowl, Snead, from Stephenville, Texas, enrolled in January and will most likely battle redshirt freshman Colt McCoy for Vince Young's old job.
?Florida State S Myron Rolle. An aspiring doctor from The Hun School in Princeton, N.J., Rolle will audition for the vacant starting job at rover in spring practice.
THREE AND OUT
1 Charlie Weis's biggest victory at Notre Dame has been persuading school officials to accept early enrollees, a common practice for years at most other major programs. Running back James Aldridge, a top 50 prospect out of Crown Point, Ind., was one of three signees to take advantage of the new policy.