USC, Ohio State fight to be top five

Forget that last year's matchup between these two teams was a blowout and that Ohio State had to squeak by Navy in Week 1. The fact remains that this is a big game and when these two storied programs clash it is a big deal. While this game will have millions tuning in to see the action on the field, also of importance is the role of recruiting. Both of these programs regularly assemble top-10 recruiting classes and if you don't think recruiting is important just look at some of the key players on the field in this game.

The No. 1 overall player in the 2009 class, Matt Barkley, is starting at quarterback for the Trojans and Ohio State starter Terrelle Pryor is only a sophomore and played a key role as a true freshman. There will also be plenty of other key underclassmen competing in this game, so both teams know the importance of recruiting. Plus, plenty of top prospects from the Class of 2010 will be in Columbus to check out the action. Let's take a look at the recruiting landscape for both teams heading into this game.


USC Trojans

The Trojans have never finished outside the top 10 in Scouts Inc.'s recruiting classes and currently sit one spot ahead of the Buckeyes in the initial ranking at No. 8. USC is recruiting on a national level, but the current makeup of its class is heavy on in-state talent. Of the Trojans' 13 prep commitments, 11 are from California. As usual, USC expects to be in the mix for top talent all the way up to national signing day.

Top prospect
At the top of the Trojans' recruiting class is wide receiver Robert Woods (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra). A top-30 player nationally, Woods is a player who has shown big-play ability. He looks bigger in person than what he is listed at and has excellent straight-line speed to present a vertical threat. He is competitive going for the ball and has the tools to be a playmaker in USC's passing game.

USC's 2010 Recruiting Class

Grimble By landing Xavier Grimble, the Trojans changed tight end from a position of need to a position of strength.
USC's 2010 Recruits

Still in mix for
Several players, including four of the top five players in the nation, have USC on their radar. One battle to really watch is the one for the current No. 1 overall prospect -- defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat (Plano, Texas/West). The Texas native is looking at several schools and is keeping his recruiting close to the vest, but the Trojans seem to be in the thick of things. In addition to the top prospect in the nation, the Trojans are also battling hard for No. 3 overall prospect Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde). The defensive end from California seems to be looking seriously at USC and Florida.

Need or nice fill
You would think that when your starting quarterback is a true freshman it would be tough to lure another highly ranked quarterback, but the Trojans were able to land No. 2-ranked quarterback and Under Armour All-American Jesse Scroggins (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood). This obviously will give them good depth and what makes this pickup even bigger is the fact that this is not a very strong quarterback class. While there are few holes in USC's recruiting, it could still use some help at the defensive tackle position.

Class ranking
The Trojans currently sit outside the top five, but by the time national signing day comes around they will likely be vying for another top-five spot. Depending on how some things shake out with some highly ranked prospects they are battling for, they could end up being a serious contender for the No. 1 spot.

Ohio State

Ohio State Buckeyes

The Buckeyes have 12 commitments and a third of those are in the ESPNU 150. This game will be big for Ohio State because it is hosting a bunch of prospects on official and unofficial visits.

Top prospect
The post-Chris Wells era is under way in Columbus and while the cupboard is not bare at the running back position, the Buckeyes have added another talented player at the position in Roderick Smith (Fort Wayne, Ind./Harding). The No. 7-rated running back has a good size-to-speed ratio. He is a shifty runner who quickly gets upfield and may even remind some Buckeyes fans of Wells.

Ohio State's 2010 Recruiting Class

Sims Roderick Smith should make plays for Ohio State in the future, but he's not the only one.
Buckeyes' 2010 Recruits

Still in mix for
One key battle for the Buckeyes is the one for No. 2 overall prospect Jordan Hicks (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West). The in-state outside linebacker is expected to be in attendance for this game and would be a big get, if the Buckeyes can eventually land him. He is an attacking playmaker at the linebacker position, but competition for him will be tough -- especially from the Texas Longhorns. True freshman wide receiver Duron Carter is already making contributions and Buckeyes fans are hoping that this former Saint Thomas Aquinas student can help lure some of his former teammates to Columbus, specifically No. 1-rated corner Lamarcus Joyner (Miami, Fla./Saint Thomas Aquinas) and offensive lineman Brandon Linder (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Saint Thomas Aquinas).

Need or nice fill
Ohio State lost two key members of its passing attack when Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline left and is currently looking for new playmakers. It remains to be seen who may step up and fill those voids this year, but the Buckeyes have added some good candidates for the future in ESPNU 150 wide receiver James Louis (Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic Community) and Tyrone Williams (East Cleveland, Ohio/Shaw), who is the top-rated receiver in the state and a big target. Ohio State also has one safety prospect on board, but could use more youth at the position from the class.

Class ranking
Ohio State finished No. 9 a year ago and at this point in the process it seems like that may be about where it falls again. However, landing prospects like Hicks and Joyner could give this class a jolt toward the top five.

Top-notch talent in attendance

Official visits (number indicates position rank)
No. 23 WR Corey Brown (Springfield, Pa./Cardinal O'Hara)
No. 4 OT Chaz Green (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic)
No. 3 K Will Hagerup (Whitefish Bay, Wis./Whitefish Bay)
No. 1 OT Seantrel Henderson (Saint Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall)
No. 1 OLB Jordan Hicks (West Chester, Ohio/Lakota West)
No. 1 CB Lamarcus Joyner (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Saint Thomas Aquinas)
No. 2 C Brandon Linder (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Saint Thomas Aquinas)
No. 14 WR James Louis (Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic Community) -- Committed to Buckeyes
No. 4 CB Joshua Shaw (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale)

Unofficial visits (number indicates position rank)
No. 13 K Drew Basil (Chillicothe, Ohio/Chillicothe) -- Committed to Buckeyes
No. 33 S Christian Bryant (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville)
No. 30 DE David Durham (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Christian) -- Committed to Buckeyes
No. 28 QB Taylor Graham (Wheaton, Ill./Wheaton) -- Committed to Buckeyes
No. 78 S Chad Hagan (Canonsburg, Pa./Canon McMilan) -- Committed to Buckeyes
No. 44 DT Johnathon Hankins (Detroit, Mich./Southeastern)
No. 14 OT Matt James (Cincinnati, Ohio/St. Xavier)
No. 52 DE J.T. Moore (Youngstown, Ohio/Boardman) -- Committed to Buckeyes
No. 140 QB Verlon Reed (Columbus, Ohio/Marion Franklin)
No. 7 RB Roderick Smith (Fort Wayne, Ind./Harding) -- Committed to Buckeyes
No. 12 OT Andrew Norwell (Cincinnati, Ohio/Anderson) -- Committed to Buckeyes
No. 36 WR Tyrone Williams (East Cleveland, Ohio/Shaw) -- Committed to Buckeyes

Craig Haubert is the recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc. and has more than a decade of coaching experience.