Recruitment has been one of the most crucial ways by which the USC football program kept its edge over other competitors. The Trojans are entering a new era of competition by joining the Big Ten conference and have to adjust against the talents in the Midwest. Coach Lincoln Riley has been beating other programs in terms of acquiring players fresh out of high school. Their latest triumph? It was just notching the commitment of Matai Tagoa'i from San Clemente.

Squads like the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns have been aggressively pursuing Matai Tagoa'i. But, there was something unique with the USC football squad that had the San Clemente star hooked. He unveiled it in his latest statement, via Greg Biggins of 247 Sports.

“There were a lot of reasons why I chose USC. I really love the culture change that's going on there with the new defensive staff,” Matai Tagoa'i said.

He then went on to discuss the specific parts of the USC football program that prompted him to go there.

“I quickly formed a strong connection with coach D'Anton Lynn and coach Matt Entz, love the defense they're bringing in and how well I fit into their scheme. I think I can be a key contributor and the staff did a really good job showing me how they plan to use me so I'm really excited,” the four-star linebacker declared.

Moreover, he also gravitated towards Coach Lincoln Riley and the way he ran things.

“The family atmosphere really caught my eye and everything just felt right about USC for me. They always say you get that special feeling when you know a school is right and I felt it at USC. I just really enjoy being around the coaching staff, from everyone to the head coach Lincoln Riley all the way to the support staff and personnel guys,” he outlined.

USC notches a defensive menace

Nov 18, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; USC Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley during the first quarter at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

© Jason Parkhurst-USA TODAY Sports

The defensive unit is a point of focus for the USC football squad in their recruits. This is why the timing of Tagoa'i's entry to the squad is perfect. He will be able to patch up Coach Riley's woes in pass rushing and collapsing the pocket when necessary.

The San Clemente star was already able to showcase this in his high school stint. Back in 2022, he played 10 games and was in his bag every single time. In this span, he banged bodies and recorded 73 tackles with six of them for loss. Moreover, he also thrives in covering primary receivers. This has gotten him nine pass deflections while also recording an interception.

At six-foot-four, there is a lot of untapped potential in this athlete. He also knows how to play on offense which is a huge bonus in terms of versatility. The fact that he also led his team to the Polynesian Bowl proves that he bears a winning mentality which the Trojans could use.

Overall, this is one of the best signings of the Trojans so far. It even looks like they are set to form a scary defensive unit.