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Taking stock of USC's 2021 recruiting class: Running backs

Four-star running back commit Brandon Campbell was one of the most significant additions to the Trojans' 2021 recruiting class.
Four-star running back commit Brandon Campbell was one of the most significant additions to the Trojans' 2021 recruiting class. (Sam Spiegelman)

**TrojanSports.com is taking an in-depth look at this 2021 USC recruiting class position-by-position, including film room evaluations on present commits and breakdowns of what to expect the rest of the way. We started with the defensive backs, linebackers, defensive line, offensive line on tight ends.

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Suddenly there are a pile of questions without answers in the wake of the Pac-12's decision to postpone all sports until at least Jan. 1 while holding out hope that a spring football season might be viable.

Near the top of that list of unanswerables at the moment is what eligibility relief will be provided for players if there is not a spring season? Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott emphasized in the league's news conference Tuesday that they'll be pushing the NCAA on this matter.

For USC, that will have a direct impact on the outlook at several positions and the related recruiting needs.

When this 2021 recruiting cycle began, everything seemed so much clearer. For instance, with Stephen Carr a senior and Vavae Malepeai a redshirt senior, USC was set to lose two of its top four running backs after this season, and after signing no RBs in the 2020 class, that meant that landing two in this class was a top priority.

If there is no season and Carr (who still has a redshirt year to apply anyway) and Malepeai are back in the mix a year from now, that obviously dramatically changes the picture.

But again, those answers don't exist yet, and for our purposes here as we evaluate USC's 2021 running back recruiting, the point could be made that regardless of those potential new wrinkles the Trojans need to establish a foundation for the future at the position.

And that means continuing to look to add a second impact running back to the class to join 4-star commit Brandon Campbell.

Continuing our position-by-position breakdown of the recruiting class, we go inside the film room on Campbell and look at who else might be a realistic addition to this class still.

Running back commit Brandon Campbell

Commitment date: March 28

How he fits USC's needs: Campbell wasn't the first domino in USC's spring recruiting resurgence, but he was one of the most pivotal. First, his commitment validated the Trojans' significant emphasis on recruiting the state of Texas, landing a top-200 out-of-state commit was a strong statement for embattled head coach Clay Helton in general after a rough 2020 recruiting cycle, and Campbell then immediately became a recruiter in his own right, helping with a commitment from fellow 4-star Texas standout WR Quaydarius Davis. From a football standpoint, meanwhile, Campbell was an ideal fit for what USC wants out of the position -- a well-rounded three-down back capable of being a dynamic pass-catcher out of the backfield while also possessing the traditional traits of a major college running back. Campbell was a priority target from the start in this recruiting class and remains one of the most significant commits to date.

Film evaluation by TrojanSports.com's Alec Simpson: "Campbell is a powerful and explosive running back. Right from the first play on his film, he takes the handoff with no hesitation and quickly breaks away from numerous defenders for a 60-yard touchdown. That ability illustrates why Campbell is a top 200 recruit nationally. At 0:40 on his highlights, Campbell shows the power from his lower body to continue running through contact and the ability to make tacklers miss as he gets in the end zone for a touchdown. At 1:08 on the film, his shiftiness and quickness really pop out. Campbell’s quick feet and agile movements as well as his vision on the football field are what make him an elite running back.

"Another area of his game that needs to be noticed, though, is his willingness and effectiveness as a blocker Campbell is in the pass game. At 0:52, Campbell fakes the handoff perfectly in play-action, then sees an edge rusher coming from the left side of the field and gives a solid chop block. That ultimately gave his quarterback a few more seconds to throw and allowed him to have more pocket to step into. Campbell is a running back that can be used in the pass game out of the backfield especially in screens or wheel routes.

"Overall, he is a prospect that will be an immediate impact guy as soon as he arrives on campus. He should definitely be in the conversation as a top five running back in this recruiting class."

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