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What USC Reportedly Told 5-Star TE Darnell Washington

A closeup of Clay Helton in his USC football gear.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Head coach Clay Helton of the USC Trojans before the game against the Arizona Wildcats at Los Angeles Coliseum on November 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The USC Trojans can use all of the recruiting help they can get, as Clay Helton enters what feels like a total lame duck season in 2020. They certainly didn't put their best foot forward in recruiting five-star tight end Darnell Washington.

The Trojans currently have 11 players signed for their 2020 recruiting class. That group only features one composite four-star player.

USC is typically the recruiting power of the Pac-12, and is a regular in the top 10 school rankings. The group currently ranked No. 79 in the country, behind almost every other Power Five program.

That's a group that could certainly use a five-star pass catcher. And yet, the Trojans told Washington that they saw him as more of a defensive end.

From Sports Illustrated:

Throughout the massive prospect's recruitment, many have been curious about his future position along with the destination. Some project Washington at tight end, where he has been working throughout UA All-America week, while others bring up offensive tackle or even a spot on the defensive line.

College football programs did the same but there is no doubt the senior wants the football in his hands at the next level.

"Everybody is saying tight end," he said of his finalists. "USC was saying D-end, some schools were saying D-end, but most schools said tight end. The school I chose said tight end and that's what I want to play, tight end.

USC doesn't have a tight end committed in this class. While they may see him as a better fit on defense, one would think they'd be best off doing whatever is necessary to get a talent like this on campus. According to Bruce Feldman, other Pac-12 coaches have said that they feel the Trojans' class is comprised of "Mountain West caliber" players.

That doesn't mean Washington would have committed to USC, even if they told him he could play tight end. It does sound like they team probably fell out of consideration with that decision, though.

As for where he will play, 247Sports' analysts heavily predicts that the No. 10 overall recruit in the class will be a Georgia Bulldog, with 94-percent of the crystal ball predictions. His recruitment has been an interesting one though.

Darnell Washington admits he gave a "silent commitment" to four different programs during the year:

"Honestly, I silently committed to about four schools," Washington told SI All-American. "'Bama, Tennessee, Georgia and Miami.

"It got so hard. When you're going through the recruiting process you build coaches with every coach that wants you and at some point you have to disappoint a lot of people."

He visited those four, as well as Florida during the fall. He says he made his decision a few weeks ago, and signed during the early signing period, and that coaches know where he stands.

That decision will be announced on Jan. 2, at the 2020 Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando. The game will be broadcast at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

[Sports Illustrated]