MaxPreps continued its look at the top-10 high school players by position this past week. After looking at the USC targets in the offensive lists, we'll turn our attention to USC targets in the defensive list, where three USC commits and a handful of targets earned recognition.
USC has a shot to land two players on this list, in No. 7 Hero Kanu (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita) and No. 9 Christen Miller (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove). Kanu has come on strong since the spring and now holds offers from some of college football's major powers. He's only limited his finalists to a top nine and USC is in that group, but the Trojans will have to beat out Alabama, Clemson, Georgia, LSU, Ohio State Oklahoma, Texas and Washington.
Miller looked to be a significant lean to the Trojans and USC still might wind up grabbing a commitment from him, but other programs, including Georgia and Ohio State are real options. Oregon also entered the race recently. Good friend and USC commit Mykel Williams (Columbus, Ga./Hardaway) -- appearing later on these lists -- will recruit Miller hard to USC.
Class of 2023 standout, Francis Mauigoa (Bradenton, Fla./IMG Academy) appears at No. 2 here and also was on the top offensive tackles list. That shows what kind of two-way player he is and the rankings match, with Mauigoa checking in as a five-star prospect and the nation's No. 4 overall recruit in his class.
Mykel Williams is the name to see here for USC fans and he's in at No. 7. USC has had all of these ends as targets in the 2022 and 2023 classes. There's still a chance that five-star end Omari Abor (Duncanville, Tex./Duncanville) takes an official visit to USC, and USC is doing well for both No. 5 Matayo Uiagalelei (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and No. 6 Peter Woods (Alabaster, Ala./Thompson) in the 2023 class, but both have significant national offers and Woods will be especially difficult to pull out of Alabama.
USC offered just about all of the top-10 linebackers and has a serious shot to sign two, in No. 4 David Bailey (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) and No. 10 Harrison Taggart (Draper, Utah/Corner Canyon). Bailey is one of the top targets on the board for USC, regardless of position and the Trojans are doing well in that race. USC will get a boost in its pursuit of Taggart with 2022 quarterback commit Devin Brown joining the Corner Canyon program this year.
Cyrus Moss (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) was an early target of USC but he didn't include the Trojans among his top schools and Oregon is now trending for him.
The strongest position in this USC recruiting class is cornerback and that's reflected here, with Domani Jackson (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) in at No. 2 and Jaeden Gould (Oradell, NJ/Bergen Catholic) in at No. 8. The Trojans also hold a commitment from Fabian Ross (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) who wouldn't have been out of place on this list either.
There is one major safety target for USC in the 2022 class and that's Zion Branch (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman). The Trojans have added a handful of bodies at the safety positions this offseason, with three high school prospects and two college transfers, but it's clear there's a spot for Branch in this class and he's a top target. A visit to Ohio State made a major impact and that's a school that has done well with Bishop Gorman prospects.