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USC lands Rivals100 LB Raesjon Davis on National Signing Day

With most of its recruiting class already in place, USC entered National Signing Day looking to address a few final needs and add at least one more marquee prospect to its impressive 2021 haul.

And indeed the Trojans did just that, as 4-star Rivals100 linebacker Raesjon Davis announced Wednesday morning that he would be signing with USC over Ohio State and Oregon.

Davis, the standout from down the road at Mater Dei HS who was committed to LSU for almost a year before backing off that pledge in December, is ranked the No. 84 overall prospect in this 2021 class and helps address one of USC's biggest remaining needs at linebacker.

That was a factor in his decision.

"Really just seeing the overall scheme, how they've turned everything around, I can see myself fitting in there very well and I can see myself being able to start, coming in fast," Davis told TrojanSports.com. "If I come in and work, I know I'll be able to get in early a few games and be able to take those steps and just start for the next few years."

RELATED: Commitment analysis, film room breakdown and scouting report on Raesjon Davis

USC returns a bevy of linebackers this year, but the Trojans are light on experience overall. Starters Kana'i Mauga and Ralen Goforth are back, as is redshirt senior Jordan Iosefa (who missed the last two seasons with knee injuries), but the unit was largely inconsistent in the shortened 2020 season. The program didn't add any linebackers in the last recruiting class, and now bring in Davis and fellow 4-star prospect Julien Simon in building a new foundation for the future at the position.

Davis said the coaching staff has told him he'd play the Rover position and also be used in some similar ways to star safety Talanoa Hufanga, whose versatility allowed the Trojans to even start him at middle linebacker one game. Hufanga, who led the team in both tackles and interceptions, is now off to the NFL.

Listed at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, Davis is a highly-athletic linebacker who has strong instincts, lateral range and is plenty capable of dropping into coverage.

USC never stopped recruiting Davis, even when he made his early commitment to LSU. At that time, the Trojans were slumping to a No. 71 finish in the 2020 recruiting rankings as questions swirled about head coach Clay Helton's future and the program hired an entirely new defensive staff.

Davis took notice of that new defense this fall, as well as the Trojans' recruiting resurgence -- they now have the No. 7-ranked class -- and felt the program was back on a good trajectory. Meanwhile, he had committed to the Tigers after building a close relationship with former defensive coordinator Dave Aranda, who left soon thereafter for the head coaching job at Baylor, and then his replacement Bo Pelini departed LSU after this past season.

All those factors -- along with the aforementioned opportunity Davis sees at USC for early playing time -- led to his decision.

"Really, it was just the coaches and the new defensive scheme. I see them flying around, getting to the ball, I really love that a lot," Davis told TrojanSports.com last week. "That's a big thing for me because I'm more of an athletic linebacker. I love to fly around and get to the ball and make plays.

"It feels like the team, they're playing more for each other instead of like everybody just trying to get out to the NFL. It seems like everybody wants to win -- so I like that a lot. And then I feel like if they have a few more players, they'll be good and [be able to] win a championship."

Meanwhile, the Trojans signed his Mater Dei HS teammate, 4-star Rivals100 WR Kyron Ware-Hudson in December, and landed a commitment from 5-star 2022 Mater Dei CB Domani Jackson (the No. 2-ranked prospect in his class). Overall, USC managed to flip the narrative this recruiting cycle, signing 12 of the top 30 prospects in California, including 5-star DE Korey Foreman (the No. 3 prospect in the class).

"That was a super big thing just to see them pull in in-state talent. We didn't expect that to happen, so that's like really a big difference," Davis said. "Going off of last year, they didn't get nobody really besides Gary [Bryant] and a few top players. But I would say really it was just them pulling in in-state talent, that's a big thing because it shows they're trying to make an effort to come back."

Add Davis to the class now and it has indeed been a highly-successful recruiting cycle for the Trojans.

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