Summer is usually a time for family vacations, barbecue and fun in the sun, but for Steve Sarkisian and the USC coaches it was a chance to load up on some top recruits.
In the last month, the Trojans have received verbal commitments from six players, including four ranked in the ESPN 300, bringing their total to 15 (seven in the ESPN 300). That run of commitments saw the Trojans go from No. 18 in the ESPN class rankings on July 9 to No. 15 on August 9, moving one spot ahead of the rival UCLA Bruins.
It also means that there are still 10 spots left in the class for Sarkisian to hand out. In the previous three seasons the Trojans would have been done once they reached 15 spots, due to NCAA sanctions, so the ability to go out and get the extra bodies is a somewhat new feeling for followers of USC recruiting.
Among the strong points of the class so far has been the ability to get a pair of quality quarterbacks in Ricky Town and Sam Darnold, a big run-stuffer in the middle of the D-line with Jacob Daniel and an elite offensive tackle in Chuma Edoga. The remaining priorities will be another interior defensive lineman, an outside linebacker or two, another running back and a couple defensive backs. Keep an eye on big-time local prospects Iman Marshall, Rasheem Green and John Houston, Jr. as being some of the key USC targets heading toward signing day.
The most recent verbal commit in the streak of summer commits came from Florida wide receiver Tristan Payton, an athletic playmaker who should fit in with Sarkisian’s style of explosive players in his offense. With previous commits from a tall receiver in junior college star De’Quan Hampton (6-foot-4, 220) and speedy Desean Holmes (4.58 in the 40), the addition of Payton balances out the wide receiver group nicely.
USC also got a commit last week from Christian Rector, a 6-foot-4, 230 defensive end who is known for his speed and ability to rush the passer. Prior to that it was tailback Aca’Cedric Ware picking the Trojans after leading his team to a Texas state title last year. Holmes had committed in July, as did Darnold, and cornerback Isaiah Langley made his pledge to the Trojans on ESPNU during The Opening.
All in all it was a very good summer stretch for the Trojans as Sarkisian has put his team in position for a strong push to signing day. With the way he closed out the class last year -- with three high-profile, nationally-televised commitments -- the finishing stretch of recruiting should be interesting to watch this year.
Class of 2015 Mission Viejo (Calif.) center Cole Smith received an offer from USC on Monday -- the same day that he took in a Trojans practice session. Smith participated in the USC Lineman Camp this past summer, and his dad is former Los Angeles Rams center and Trojans assistant coach Doug Smith. He also holds offers from the likes of UCLA, Arizona State, Cal and Utah.
Also receiving an offer from USC over the course of the last few days were four ESPN Junior 300 prospects -- tight end/defensive end Isaac Garcia (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue), running back/cornerback Isaiah Gilchrist (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue), defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence (Wake Forest, N.C./Wake Forest) and safety Brandon Jones (Nacogdoches, Texas/Nacogdoches). Garcia is originally from Fontana (Calif.), and he admits that the USC offer is a big one. Both he and Gilchrist are teammates with Class of 2015 offensive tackle Henry Roberts, who has a final three of Stanford, USC and Washington.