Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Recruits take in USC's opening practice
By Blair Angulo
Before kicking off his final high school football season, USC commit D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) made the drive to Los Angeles to attend the Trojans’ first practice of the fall this past weekend.
Even though the four-star outside linebacker didn’t need additional assurance regarding his commitment, he got it anyway.
“It was real great,” Calhoun said. “It was real fun being with the coaches. I love the practices and how coach [Mike] Ekeler carries himself on the field. He was getting hyped up. I loved everything about it.”
Calhoun, who intends to enroll early at USC in time for practices next spring, also spoke with his lead recruiter, assistant coach Clay Helton, and good friend Michael Hutchings, a freshman linebacker. The conversations centered mostly around expectations.
“I’m going to be coming in early, possibly with a chance to start right away,” Calhoun said. “I can’t wait.”
Calhoun, cornerback target Adarius Pickett and El Cerrito have already started their preparation for the 2013 season, carrying high hopes in the Bay Area landscape.
Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco four-star defensive end Malik Dorton, one of the Braves' most important players, was also in attendance. He got a close look at his possible college destination when he attended the Trojans’ practice Sunday.
“It was something different,” Dorton said. “I had never been to a USC practice before. That was my first time getting a chance to check out how the depth is looking like. Everything was fast and up-tempo. I liked it. I talked to coach [Ed] Orgeron and coach [Lane] Kiffin. They were busy running practice, but Coach Kiffin told me he was happy to see me and coach O told me he loved me and he wants me to be a Trojan.”
It might not be long before Dorton announces his decision, which would likely mean good news for USC. The Trojans already hold verbal commitments from defensive linemen Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central), Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and Michael Wyche (Chesapeake, Va./East Los Angeles College), but are in need of some signatures at the position.
“It’s looking like it will be before the season,” Dorton said of his decision. “I am going to have a ceremony, but we’ve got to start planning it. I’ll talk to my head coach and see what the schedule is looking like. I’m planning it real soon.”
Dorton saw “a lot of similarities” between how USC utilizes its hybrid end position in the new 5-2 front and how he’s used at Bosco.
“Everything looked good,” the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Dorton said.
Offensive tackle commit can’t get enough
Expect three-star offensive tackle Jordan Austin (Claremont, Calif./Claremont) to become a regular at USC practices.
The commit checked in a couple times last weekend to get a look at how new offensive line coach Mike Summers works.
“It was a fun experience,” Austin said. “They really took me in as one of their own and treated me like family as soon as I got there. They wanted me to be right there during the plays. I tried to recognize and study plays, especially since I’m coming in early. I plan to come up to campus as much as I can to get acclimated.”
The 6-foot-5, 273-pound Austin has been so motivated since committing to USC that he’s been training at Mt. San Antonio College, running the challenging hills on the notorious cross country course. He’s also working to gain mass while maintaining mobility.
“What we really stood out to me was the speed,” Austin said. “It’s so much more different than high school. The intensity level is unreal.”
No. 1-rated offensive lineman still unsure
One of the bigger developments at The Opening last month was No. 1-rated offensive lineman Cameron Robinson (Monroe, La./West Monroe) saying he intended to use one of his official visits this fall on USC, despite not knowing whether he had an offer from the Trojans.
A month later, Robinson still isn’t sure.
“I need to get in contact with the coaches because I absolutely want to make them one of my official visits this season,” Robinson said.
Former Ouachita coach John Carr, who is now at Southern Miss, said he’d be surprised if Robinson didn't already hold a USC offer, but wasn’t sure either. The Trojans have commitments from three offensive linemen, but could certainly make room for the dominant Robinson.