The Fighting USC Trojans had a great recruiting class in 2015 and that group struggled early in the 2016 season but came on strong late in the year to instigate a lot of hype going into the 2017 season. These guys are either redshirt sophomores now, or juniors.
Some of the bigger names of this class are Quarterback Sam Darnold, Running Back Ronald Jones II, Cornerback Biggie Marshall, Offensive Tackle Chuma Edoga, Tight End Tyler Petite, Defensive Tackle Rasheem Green, Linebackers John Houston Jr and Cameron Smith, and Defensive Backs Marvel Tell and Isaiah Langley and all of these guys are starters.
Then, there’s Outside Linebacker Porter Gustin.
Gustin was the 7th rated Athlete in his recruiting class and a 4 star out of the state of Utah. His father played college football and his mother played college basketball as well as his Aunt. He comes from
an athletic background, obviously, and he is a physical specimen.
In high school, Gustin was a 1st team Parade All American and 1st team All State. He played a strange combination of Quarterback and Linebacker and he was really good at both.
He totaled 152 tackles with 10 and a half Quarterback sacks and 29 tackles for losses. He tossed in a couple of Interceptions for good measure. As a Quarterback, he threw the ball 349 times and completed 212 of those passes for an impressive 2,864 yards and 22 Touchdowns with 7 Interceptions. Of course, he also was a mobile Quarterback and was able to pick up 891 yards while totting the ball 92 times and he scored 10 Touchdowns.
Those are impressive numbers for a guy that was supposedly 6-4, 240 and one of the best Linebacker prospects in the country. But, that’s not quite all. He was also an outstanding pitcher in baseball with supposedly a 93 MPH fastball, he played basketball and was a javelin and shot put thrower in track and field. This kid is a marvelous athlete and can just about do it all.
As good as he was in high school, he might look a little strange playing Quarterback now with those ripped arms.
At 6-5, 260, Gustin has six pack abs and if he took his helmet off, he might be mistaken for the comic book character, Thor. He looks like he could carry that big hammer around smashing bad guys, or in Gustin’s case, opposing football players.
Supposedly, he lives in the USC weight room only leaving for some grub, or maybe going to class.
Naturally, the comparisons are going to come for former Trojan great, Clay Matthews. But, they are really very little alike other than they are Trojans, and they come from the outside trying to get at the Quarterback.
As a true freshman in 2015, Gustin played in every game and wound up starting the last game of the season against UCLA and then against Stanford in the championship game.
Thor, I mean Porter Gustin, finished with 5 and a half sacks in 2016 and 6 tackles for loss.
This past season, Gustin started every game and finished as the team’s second leading tackler behind only Inside Linebacker Cameron Smith. For the second season in a row, Gustin finished with 5.5 Quarterback sacks. He upped his tackles for losses up to 13 with 68 total tackles. He also broke up 4 passes and got another Quarterback hurry.
Porter Gustin is poised for a real break out season in 2017.
But, really, the entire team is right there. Some have them ranked in the top 5 for the upcoming season and a favorite to win the Pac 12 and earn a playoff spot. An unbeaten USC team, or maybe even a one loss Trojan team, will for sure be playoff bound. People in the East will say they are overrated, or that they played a weak schedule, but then they never stay up and watch Pac 12 games. So many people saw Christian McCaffrey for the first time during the 2015 season when the Cardinal of Stanford stuffed Iowa in the Rose Bowl. McCaffrey ran wild over a defense that was supposedly really good.
They say that Gustin is the hardest working player on the team. Which in my book, that probably means that he is going to be much improved this season. He should be bigger, stronger and faster. The season is getting close and I can’t wait to find out.