USC Trojans: Louisville Cardinals

The state of Georgia is loaded in both the 2015 and 2016 classes.

In the 2015 class, the linebacker position is one of strength, as a number of rangy, athletic prospects -- highlighted by ESPN 300 prospects Adonis Thomas and Roquan Smith -- are available.

Five schools made the final cut on Thursday night for Thomas, one of the nation's top prospects.

1. Let me stipulate that Steve Sarkisian is a talented coach who didn’t get sufficient credit for the resurrection of Washington football. But the expectations that Sark will pick up USC and deposit it into the top 10 are shortsighted. The coach might be new, but the Trojans are still operating under NCAA scholarship reductions. USC still has fewer players than the other contenders, and more of the Trojans are young and inexperienced. A team with one quarterback who has taken a college snap (sophomore Cody Kessler) is headed for the playoffs? USC’s margin of error remains too thin.

2. Hard as it is to believe with a school that has sent Johnny Unitas, Brian Brohm, Stefan LeFors, Dave Ragone, Browning Nagle and Chris Redman to the NFL, but Teddy Bridgewater will likely be the first Louisville quarterback to be drafted in the first round. Blake Bortles of UCF can’t claim that -- Daunte Culpepper went in the first round in 1999. Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M almost could, but Ryan Tannehill became the first Aggie to go in the first round two years ago. Of course the Aggies were a team that ran first and threw later forever.

3. If you love college football, I shouldn’t have to tell you to read Dan Jenkins’ autobiography, “His Ownself,” published last week. Dan’s 80-year love affair with the game shines throughout. My favorite nugget: Dan recounting how 1938 Heisman winner Davey O’Brien once explained to him that two rules adopted in 1934 made way for the passing game we love today. One reduced the circumference of the ball one inch, making it easier to grasp. The other rescinded the five-yard penalty for throwing more than one incompletion in a series of downs.

3-point stance: Bridgewater's future

December, 18, 2013
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1. It has been a foregone conclusion that Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will leave a year early to go to the NFL. That Bridgewater said he has made no decision is interesting. He has already gotten his degree. The reasons to stay would be loyalty to friends and to coaches, or to enjoy a last year of college, or to become more football-mature. History is pretty clear: quarterbacks benefit from playing that extra year in college. I hope that Bridgewater withstands the pull of the NFL for one more year. But that’s hard to do.

2. The grumbling about Kirk Ferentz at Iowa has quieted again, now that the Hawkeyes went 8-4 and finished tied for second in the Big Ten Legends. Ferentz’s teams are almost metronomic in the way they swing from mediocre to good and back again. That’s maddening to fans in this day and age. But Ferentz re-established Iowa as a program that plays sound, fundamental football. Ferentz and Bob Stoops of Oklahoma began the same season, 1999, at their current jobs and had the same kind of 15th season: overachieving, with big finishes.

3. The rise of USC redshirt sophomore tailback Javorious Allen is fascinating when juxtaposed against the injury struggles of his teammate, senior Silas Redd. Allen came on strong in the back half of the season and finished with 699 yards and the team MVP award. Redd left Penn State on the cusp of the 2012 season, in what appeared to be an escape from Penn State’s NCAA sanctions. In two seasons at USC, Redd rushed 248 times for 1,281 yards. As a sophomore at Penn State in 2011, Redd rushed 244 times for 1,241 yards.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Several recruits in Los Angeles took to Twitter on Wednesday to criticize Lane Kiffin, sparking a heated debate with Trojan fans; how Florida losing a four-star offensive line commitment is a good thing, and Oklahoma sends out offers to two of the nation’s top juniors.

ESPN.com's preseason power rankings

August, 9, 2013
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College Football Power Rankings illustrationESPN IllustrationTBD BY EDITORIAL


Not surprisingly, the back-to-back BCS champions are again preseason favorites and top ESPN's power rankings. But a number of elite programs are ready for their chance to dethrone the king.

Top 15 breakdown
No. 1 Alabama
No. 2 Ohio State
No. 3 Oregon
No. 4 Stanford
No. 5 Texas A&M
No. 6 (tie) Georgia
No. (tie) South Carolina
No. 8 Louisville
No. 9 Clemson
No. 10 Florida
No. 11 Florida State
No. 12 LSU
No. 13 Notre Dame
No. 14 (tie) Michigan
No. 14 (tie) Texas

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CARMEL, Ind. -- Austin Roberts goes to Carmel High School, but Indiana is not his home. He was born in Dallas, but that’s not his home, either. The closest thing to home would be the state of Florida, but he lived in three different cities and was there for a little more than half of his life. The other half was spent moving from city to city.

That’s the life you live when your father coaches in the NFL. Alfredo Roberts, Austin’s father, is currently the tight ends coach for the Indianapolis Colts.


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Coveted OLB names a top five 

March, 14, 2013
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Outside linebacker Jacob Pugh (Tallahassee, Fla./Godby) isn’t exactly sure of how many offers he has. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior has not counted them. Once he had received over 30 offers to the top programs in the nation, there really seemed no point in doing so. Pugh is more concerned about the five that he has on top.


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Decommit calls strategy into question 

February, 5, 2013
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If the recruitment of ESPN 300 defensive end Jason Hatcher (Louisville, Ky./Trinity) is any indication, hanging onto longtime commits for six months is no easy task.

Just ask USC.

There aren’t any guarantees in recruiting -- especially with out-of-state prospects -- until the fax machine cranks out signed letters. The risk is often times greater than the payoff.

Hatcher will sign with Kentucky on Wednesday, his mother, Donna, told ESPN.com on Tuesday afternoon. Not long ago, Kentucky seemed to be looking up at USC and hometown Louisville for Hatcher’s signature. But the No. 3-rated player in Kentucky is staying close to home, forcing USC to shake off yet another decommitment in an offseason that has been nothing short of discouraging.


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ESPN 300 DE Jason Hatcher makes call 

February, 5, 2013
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After weeks of speculation involving USC, Louisville and Kentucky, ESPN 300 defensive end Jason Hatcher has made up his mind heading into signing day.


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Reports: Hatcher recommits to USC

January, 30, 2013
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The recruitment of ESPN 300 defensive end Jason Hatcher (Louisville, Ky./Trinity) took another twist on Tuesday night when he reportedly recommitted to USC following an in-home visit from the coaching staff.

On Monday night, Hatcher wrote “Fight on world” on the same Twitter account where he “officially” decommitted a week prior. The latter message has since been deleted.

Hatcher could not be reached for comment.

The No. 14 defensive end officially visited USC on the weekend of Jan. 18 but re-opened his recruitment upon returning home, with in-state schools Kentucky and Louisville the primary candidates.

Hatcher officially visited Kentucky on Jan. 11 and had been scheduled to visit Louisville this coming weekend.

With Hatcher in tow, USC’s recruiting class would have 14 commitments, six of whom are already enrolled and on campus. All members of the class are ranked in the ESPN 300.

Louisville QB commit after Jason Hatcher 

January, 28, 2013
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Kyle Bolin has helped land one Louisville commitment. He's now after another.

Four-star receiver Charles Williams from Hialeah (Fla.) Champagnat committed to Louisville earlier this month, in part, at Bolin's behest. Bolin, a Cardinals commitment from Lexington (Ky.) Lexington Catholic, was often extolling the virtues of Louisville to Williams. The two took their official visits to Louisville on Jan. 18.

"It was a blast," Bolin said of the visit. "The coaches put together a great schedule for us and it was nice being able to meet with most of the commits and their families, along with some other great targets."

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Notebook: Isaac gets a visitor 

January, 28, 2013
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Recruits toss around the word commitment quite loosely these days. For ESPN 150 running back Ty Isaac (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic Academy), it carries greater meaning than that.


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Trojans 25th in Way-Too-Early Top 25

January, 8, 2013
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Alabama CheerleadersStreeter Lecka/Getty ImagesAlabama, with three of the past four national titles, is No. 1 in the Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2013.

There's still seven months before the start of the 2013 season, and the teams and their order figure to change frequently, but it's never too early to take a look at the Way-Too-Early Top 25 for 2013.

And with three national championships in the past four years, there's no reason to change the team that's on top. After a tough 2012, USC has some ground to make up at No. 25.

Also see:
SAN ANTONIO -- Wednesday was a day off for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl teams. Instead of working out and participating in drills, the players took in visits around the city -- including a stop at the Alamodome for photo opportunities and to see their game apparel -- and used the day to recover from two days of practice.

The teams will return to the fields on Thursday in arguably the most important practice of the week. Here are five things to keep an eye on for Thursday’s practice:

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videoSAN ANTONIO – ESPN 150 wide receiver James Quick (Louisville, Ky./Trinity) has drawn plenty of attention for his play through two practices for the East team in preparation for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

He’ll garner even more eyes his way on Saturday when he announces his commitment during the game.

[+] EnlargeJames Quick
Damon Sayles/ESPN.comESPN 150 WR James Quick is set to decide between Ohio State, Louisville and Oregon on Saturday.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder said he is down to Louisville, Ohio State and Oregon. Though his decision will come Saturday, it could be finalized by Wednesday morning, as he sits down to discuss his options with his parents, who are in town for the event.

“I am basically going to ask them which coach they have the best relationship with,” Quick said. “There has to be a relationship with the head coach and family as well.”

When asked if there was a head coach among his finalists that was stood out to him the most, he said no. But Louisville coach Charlie Strong and his tendency of playing freshmen is intriguing to him and is one of the main reasons that Louisville is in the mix.

The sales pitch for all of them is pretty much the same: Join our program, and early playing time will likely be there.

“They are all basically saying that I am going to get early playing time. Some are saying that I am going to get the ball more than others,” he said. “It’s all about early playing time, really.”

Quick has taken official visits to Louisville and Ohio State. He wasn’t able to make it to Oregon for an unofficial visit but has the Ducks squarely in the mix because of his relationship with the coaching staff.

“I have built a good relationship with their coaches and the offense that they run. It’s up-tempo, which really excites a player of my caliber,” he said.

Newsmaker: Last week, offensive tackle Jake Campos (West Des Moines, Iowa/Valley) wasn’t expecting to play football over his break. On Tuesday, he was preparing for a nationally televised appearance in a U.S. Army All-American Bowl uniform.

Campos, a three-star Iowa State commit, was called Sunday afternoon as a replacement for injured lineman Chris Fox (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa). By 6 a.m. Monday, he was on a flight to San Antonio. At the end of Tuesday, he was fully taking on the responsibility of fending off stud defensive linemen such as Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer), Justin Manning (Dallas/Kimball) and A’Shawn Robinson (Fort Worth, Texas/Arlington Heights).

“I was shocked at first, but then, I got really excited,” said Campos, a 6-7, 250-pound tackle who said he’s “110-percent committed” to Iowa State.

“It was so out of the blue, but it’s great to be here. At first, learning the plays was tough, but I got those down now. I’m just adjusting to right tackle. I was still working the kinks out, that’s all.”

Superlatives: The East defensive line really stepped up in afternoon practice during 11-on-11 action. Alabama defensive end commit Jonathan Allen (Ashburn, Va./Stone Bridge) was unstoppable. Virginia Tech defensive end commit Wyatt Teller (Bealeton, Va./Liberty) also stepped up his game from Monday, intercepting a pass in the morning session from Auburn-bound quarterback Jeremy Johnson (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) and playing even better in the afternoon. … The best hands on the West team may not be on a wide receiver. ESPN 150 tight end DeSean Smith (Lake Charles, La./Barbe) made some great catches on Monday, and he continued to shine on Tuesday. Smith an LSU commitment, is the No. 5 tight end in the country. … The catch of the day from the East goes to ESPN 300 athlete Tyler Boyd (Clairton, Pa./Clairton), who ripped a ball away from Florida defensive back commitment Nick Washington (Jacksonville, Fla./Trinity Christian). An uncommitted, four-star athlete, Boyd is expected to announce his college future on Saturday. … ESPN 150 running back Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) continued to be the best running back for the East. He shined in the early morning practice, with help from a very good offensive line.


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