USC football to add Chris Claiborne and Hayes Pullard to support staff

Ryan Kartje
LA Times
Hayes Pullard, a USC captain in 2013 and 2014, has been hired as a defensive analyst for the Trojans. <span class="copyright">(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)</span>
Hayes Pullard, a USC captain in 2013 and 2014, has been hired as a defensive analyst for the Trojans. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Two former USC linebackers are set to join a football support staff that’s grown exponentially over the course of the offseason.

Chris Claiborne, a consensus All-American linebacker for USC in 1998, and Hayes Pullard, a two-time captain in 2013 and 2014, will join the Trojans’ staff as analysts next season, the school announced Thursday. Claiborne will be responsible for offensive quality control, and Pullard will work with the defense.

Both had agreed in principle to join the staff before the COVID-19 pandemic, per a USC statement. But with the university now in the midst of a hiring freeze, the two agreed to delay their start dates until June 1.

The long-anticipated hires mark the highest-profile additions to a USC support staff that’s been rebuilt in recent months. Last season, USC had four football support staffers dedicated to recruiting and another four dedicated to operations. Before the pandemic, the athletic department had planned to add eight more staffers, in hopes of keeping pace with other top football programs across the country.

USC now has 10 staffers occupying grad assistant or quality control analyst roles. Neither of its newest staffers will be able to aid in recruiting off-campus, per NCAA compliance rules. As non-full-time staff, both are allowed to meet with recruits on campus and receive, but not originate, phone calls from said recruits.

In Claiborne and Pullard, the program adds two faces familiar not only to USC, but also to the rest of Southern California. Claiborne most recently served as head coach for two seasons at Calabasas High, where he accumulated a 17-6 record over two seasons (2018-19) and advanced to the CIF Division 1 playoffs in 2019.

Claiborne stepped down from that head coaching position in December to pursue collegiate coaching options, leading many around the program to speculate about a future coaching position at USC, where he was the Trojans’ first Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker.

Chris Claiborne has been hired as an offensive quality control analyst for the Trojans. <span class="copyright">(Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)</span>
Chris Claiborne has been hired as an offensive quality control analyst for the Trojans. (Eric Sondheimer / Los Angeles Times)

Few college linebackers at the time could match Claiborne’s tenure with the Trojans, as he racked up 312 tackles over three seasons. After a standout college career, Claiborne was selected by the Detroit Lions with the ninth pick in 1999, before spending eight seasons in the NFL. Claiborne, who last played in 2006, was inducted into the USC Athletics Hall of Fame in 2018.

Pullard tallied more tackles over four seasons with the Trojans. His 377 rank sixth-most in school history. The Crenshaw High graduate was the first to lead USC in tackles for three consecutive seasons since Dennis Johnson, who did it from 1977-79.

Pullard was drafted in the seventh round by the Cleveland Browns in 2015, before bouncing around the NFL for four seasons. He last played with the Chargers in 2018.

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