April 21, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Top recruit Korey Foreman commits to USC

For the first time in more than a decade, the nation’s top recruit has chosen the Trojans.

Corona Centennial defensive end Korey Foreman made his pledge to USC official during the All-American Bowl’s declaration special Saturday, after clandestinely signing with the Trojans two weeks ago at the start of the early signing window.

His signing marks the biggest recruiting victory of the Clay Helton era, at a juncture when the Trojans, fresh off a loss in the Pac-12 title game, could use one most. The decision comes one year after USC’s recruiting efforts had sunk to their lowest point in recent memory, with most of its top targets signing elsewhere and its class ranking just 64th nationally.

After that debacle, USC set out to revamp its recruiting operation last January, hiring new assistants, adding more support staff and retooling its long-term vision. Those efforts, at least in the short term, were focused on convincing Foreman, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive end with blazing speed off the edge and uncommon athleticism for his size.

Foreman originally committed to Clemson last January. But when the player ranked No. 1 in the nation by 247Sports decided he wanted to explore his options by visiting other schools, a rule from Clemson coach Dabo Swinney barring commits from visiting elsewhere prompted Foreman to cut ties.

Foreman was still considering Clemson in the lead-up to last month’s early signing day. He also considered Arizona State, Louisiana State and Georgia, all four of which had recruited at a higher level than USC in recent years.

But Foreman ultimately chose the Trojans, opting to stay close to home and join former teammate Drake Jackson in a USC defensive front that should be one of the most formidable in the West next season.

Corona Centennial defensive lineman Korey Foreman looks on during a game against Orange Lutheran in November 2018.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Not since Matt Barkley in 2009 has USC successfully signed the top overall recruit. The 11 years since have instead been largely defined by many failed pursuits of top prospects, several of whom called the Southland home. Last year, the No. 2 overall prospect, quarterback Bryce Young, reneged on his year-long commitment and signed with Alabama. The top defensive player on the West Coast, linebacker Justin Flowe, also turned down the Trojans to sign with Oregon.

The year before that, it was Kayvon Thibodeaux, another local defensive star and No. 2 overall prospect, who dealt USC a painful recruiting blow by signing with Oregon.

But after many years of recruiting misses, Foreman’s arrival is a vindicating moment for the future of a program that once annually dominated the recruiting trail.

About 40 minutes before Foreman made his announcement, Los Angeles Loyola cornerback Ceyair Wright also committed to the Trojans. The addition of Foreman and Wright moved USC’s 2021 class from No. 14 to No. 8 in 247Sports’ team rankings.