Sting Factor: De'Anthony Gatson backs off pledge to USC
When a major program loses a key recruit, Rivals.com takes a look at how big of a blow it is to the respective school, analyzing it from a local and national level. To quantify the “sting” of each decommitment we assign a score from one to 10, with one being no big deal and 10 being a catastrophic hit.
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But times have changed now with the looming uncertainty following coach Clay Helton’s dismissal. The search is on for a new coach, but that could mean an overhaul of the previous coaching staff, and Gatson has developed a strong relationship with position coach Mike Jinks.
All those questions led to Gatson’s de-commitment on Monday as the four-star running back from Newton, Texas, reopened his recruitment.
Gatson has been the lone de-commitment so far following Helton's firing. If it’s the last, then the Trojans will have dodged a few bullets. But many other prospects have either taken visits or are planning them soon, so that could be something to watch moving forward.
"USC has to expect that it's going to lose some of its early commits as it wades through a prolonged coaching search and with most of its current assistant coaches unlikely to return. But running back is a position that could get perilously thin very quickly and the Trojans are going to need to land at least one in this class.
"Vavae Malepeai is in his final season with the Trojans, and Keaontay Ingram could also leave after this year. Kenan Christon has been away from the team for several weeks for undisclosed reasons that now cast uncertainty about his future. That could leave just Darwin Barlow and Brandon Campbell on the depth chart, so losing Gatson's commitment is significant.
"He's a guy that took an official visit in June, committed soon thereafter and is very close friends with Barlow, so he was one USC might have had hoped it could keep in the class. Now the Trojans are going to have to really hope they can close strong with Jovantae Barnes or they'll have to reach beyond their initial target list to fill the need -- or, of course, hit the transfer portal hard yet again." - Ryan Young, TrojanSports.com
Sting Factor: 8
“When there is a coaching change, there will inevitably be some turnover in a recruiting class. Gatson is the first example of that for USC and it does hurt because the four-star plays a position of need for this recruiting class – running back – and now the Trojans have to hope some final pieces fall into place or they will need to figure out alternative plans.
"The good news, though, is this: Once a new coach is hired, whether it’s James Franklin, Luke Fickell, Matt Campbell or somebody else, there is always a spark of excitement from top prospects, so there’s just no telling who the Trojans could go after late in the process leading up to signing day. Whether it’s flipping a committed prospect, going after someone who isn’t on the radar yet or really utilizing the transfer portal, where there will inevitably be some really talented players, USC should be just fine when it comes to its backfield under the new regime.” - Adam Gorney, Rivals National Recruiting Director
Sting Factor: 6