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Christian Pierce – 2023 Safety – USC commit
Christian Pierce is a 6-2, 180-pound safety from Rancho Cucamonga HS, in Rancho Cucamonga, California. 247Sports grades him at 88/100, good for a high three-star rating. The 247 sports composite ranks him as the 51st ranked safety nationally, the 41st overall player in the state of California, and the 597th overall player nationally in the class of 2023.
Via his player profile at 247Sports, he held offers from USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Boise State, Cal, Colorado, Colorado State, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon State, Rice, San Diego State, San Jose State, UCLA, Utah, Utah State, Washington, and Washington State.
Pierce had announced a top three of UCLA, Washington, and USC. A few weeks later he announced his commitment to the USC Trojans and head coach Lincoln Riley.
Current and incoming safeties on the roster include:
Free Safeties: Calen Bullock (So.), Anthony Beavers JR. (Rs Fr.), Bryson Shaw (Transfer), and Zion Branch (Incoming Fr.),
Strong safeties: Xavion Alford (Rs So. Transfer), Xamarion Gordon (Rs Fr.),
How he fits and path to playing time
Based on the film I watched, Pierce shows the tools necessary to play either of the safety positions. Of the traits I saw, I think he is better equipped to slot in at strong safety.
In pass coverage, he reads QB and receiver body language effectively. His ball location and reaction times are excellent, the moment the ball is up in the air he reacts and moves towards the location it appears to be heading. This has helped Pierce make some impressive interceptions as well as causing multiple broken-up passes. The only apparent weakness here is that the quick reactivity to the opposing QB allows for him to be thrown off when the QB pump fakes as well as allowing high-level QBs to somewhat dictate his movement downfield with their body language.
Despite his impressive pass coverage capabilities, I am even more excited about this guy’s potential as a run stopper. His tackles are quick and powerful. Multiple times a game an offensive player will run into him, and they always get laid out. While he does leave some room for improvement with the technique of his tackles, Pierce is a hard-hitting safety. Odds are, if you allow him to hit you, most of the time he’s going to put you on your back. Again, he reads plays and body language well, once the ball is handed off, he is quick to get to the ball carrier. He will need to improve his technique bringing down shiftier backs in the open field, but in general very few are getting past him, and none can go through him.
The secondary room at USC is quite young, the bulk of the safeties group being freshman and sophomores. Pierce very likely will not see the field immediately. Instead, he will have time to refine his technique while patiently adjusting to the college game. Given the caliber of recruits that USC expects to bring in under Lincoln Riley, Pierce will be on the lower end, rankings-wise, of the USC commits in 2023. Likely a developmental piece here, Pierce shows the physical and mental traits necessary to develop into a high-level player by his junior or senior season. Very solid pick-up here by Lincoln Riley and the USC Trojans.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]