TrojanSports - Commitment Analysis: What USC is getting in Rivals100 LB Tackett Curtis
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{{ timeAgo('2022-07-18 15:04:47 -0500') }} football Edit

Commitment Analysis: What USC is getting in Rivals100 LB Tackett Curtis

USC reeled in its biggest commit of the summer on Monday as four-star Rivals100 linebacker Tackett Curtis announced his decision, picking the Trojans over Ohio State and Wisconsin.

Curtis -- the No. 2-ranked ILB and No. 61 overall national prospect, out of Many, La. -- had visited all three schools in June before taking a few weeks to mull his choice.

The result is the most significant defensive commitment for the Trojans in this 2023 recruiting class.

It's a big win for Lincoln Riley and defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, but a large share of the credit here really needs to go to inside linebackers coach Brian Odom, who had been recruiting Curtis as a top priority since most of this staff was at Oklahoma.

Curtis went in-depth with TrojanSports.com about his connection with Odom last month, including what it meant to him that Odom made the maximum allowable two trips to Many High School during the spring evaluation period.

"It just shows, it puts action in front of words. Some coaches can tell you how much they love you, but he shows with his actions coming down and seeing me. It's not easy to get to Many, La., from LA. Not at all and he did it twice. It just shows, it puts the action behind the words," Curtis said.

"I feel like he's very relatable to me. Me and him are kind of, we act a lot the same, really similar. He's really serious and focused on ball, but then away from ball he has a good time and it's fun to be around him. I just feel like we really hit it off with our relationship, and he's really honest. He's always gave me his honest opinion. ... He just put it all on the line [during the official visit] and he was telling me, 'Man, I want you. I've been recruiting you for two and a half years. Don't make this be the last time that I see you.'"

It won't be now.

RELATED: Tackett Curtis explains how USC won out in his recruitment

What it means for USC ...

For all the focus on the highly-ranked offensive recruits Riley and staff have lured to USC since arriving at the end of November, Curtis becomes the third defensive signee/commit ranked among the top 65 prospects nationally, following 2022 five-star cornerback Domani Jackson (No. 17) and 2022 four-star safety Zion Branch (No. 64).

In terms of the 2023 class, Curtis is the 12th overall commit, with eight of those being four-star and five-star prospects. He is the fourth Rivals100 commit along with five-star QB Malachi Nelson (No. 4 overall in the country), five-star WR Zachariah Branch (No. 17) and four-star WR Makai Lemon (No. 71), with four-star RB Quinten Joyner (No. 115) just outside that top 100.

The Trojans now have four defensive commits with Curtis, four-star safety Christian Pierce, four-star cornerback Braxton Myers and three-star DE Grant Buckey.

USC is up to No. 17 in the Rivals recruiting rankings.

But the real significance in landing Curtis' commitment is in how the Trojans have transformed the linebacker position in the last 7.5 months.

What was one of USC's thinnest position groups has now added projected starting middle linebacker Shane Lee as a transfer from Alabama, potential starting weakside linebacker Eric Gentry as a transfer from Arizona State, Utah transfer LB Carson Tabaracci (whom USC coveted in the 2022 recruiting class initially) and now Curtis.

With former highly-rated four-star LBs Raesjon Davis and Julien Simon still developing as sophomores, and intriguing but raw three-star 2022 signee Garrison Madden new to the program this summer, that is suddenly a very high-upside group.

Lee is likely here for just one year. Ralen Goforth, who will compete with Gentry to retain a starting role as a fourth-year senior this year, has another year of eligibility left after this season if he wants it. But regardless, Curtis should have every chance to at least compete for a starting job as a true freshman in 2023.

Also significant is that if he holds true to his commitment and signs with the Trojans, Curtis will be the first ranked football prospect from Louisiana to sign with USC since running back Joe McKnight in the 2007 class.

The other others in the Rivals era (going back to 2002) are QB John David Booty and DT Ryan Watson, both in the 2003 class, and K Kris Albarado (2011), none of which were ranked in the Rivals250 (in Booty’s case that was only because he reclassified into an earlier recruiting cycle), so this is a rare pull of a top prospect out of Louisiana for the Trojans.

Film Room

Rivals national recruiting director Adam Gorney gives his take ...

What is your reaction to USC winning this major recruiting battle with Ohio State and Wisconsin?

Gorney: "If Lincoln Riley and Alex Grinch weren't there, I don't think this would have even been a consideration for him. Wisconsin definitely had his attention early on. Once Ohio State got really involved it looked like he was going there, it looked like a pretty much settled recruitment. [Defensive coordinator/LBs coach] Jim Knowles and he had a great relationship. He absolutely loved Ohio State. But every time that he visited USC or really thought about his recruitment, it started to trend in that way. So then it became Ohio State or USC -- should I go play in the Big Ten at an established national championship contender for a guy that I really like in Jim Knowles, who was going to use me inside and outside and kind of build a defense around me, or come to USC, which seemed to be pulling him for many different reasons. But Lincoln Riley and Alex Grinch were definitely two of them. I think he fell in love with the whole 'SC vibe when he was out here and what they're trying to do. In the glory days, they had middle linebackers that looked and played a lot like Tackett Curtis and I think that's kind of what he sees in his game moving forward here."

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