Monday, August 19, 2013
Notebook: Recruits converge on Coliseum
By Blair Angulo
ESPN 300 offensive guard Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), a longtime USC commit, headlined a solid group of recruits that attended the Trojans’ practice Sunday night at the Coliseum.
The list of spectators also included Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco standouts Malik Dorton, Damien Mama and Jaleel Wadood, as well as four-star quarterback Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade) and three-star cornerback Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial).
Lobendahn has been a staple at practices since committing to USC more than a year ago, so his presence didn’t necessarily raise eyebrows. The interesting -- if not entirely surprising -- visitor was Kaaya, an Elite 11 finalist who committed to Miami (Fla.) in early May. USC missed out on the only quarterback it has offered in the 2014 class, No. 1-rated pocket passer Keller Chryst (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto), and other options have given verbal commitments to other schools.
Kaaya, the No. 2-rated signal-caller in the state, downplayed his unexpected visit to USC, saying he was there to support teammate and three-star cornerback Donovan Lee, who needed a lift to campus.
“I’m trying to get him in there,” Kaaya said. “He’s getting recruited by USC. He’s awesome. I hope they offer.”
Wadood, a Cal commit who was offered by the Trojans shortly after the Rising Stars Camp, had a similar reason for being at the Coliseum.
“I only went because of my friend Daylon Cason, who played at Lakewood with me. They wanted him to go, not me,” Wadood said. “He’s at Long Beach City College now.”
Cason, who graduated from Lakewood in 2012, is the cousin of five-year NFL cornerback Antoine Cason. Outside linebacker Daquan Baker (Los Angeles/Dorsey) was also on the sideline, while Fisher spoke with assistant coach Tee Martin.
“It was great,” Fisher said. “They worked hard and smooth. It was just a great experience to see that. I talked with Coach Martin and another coach who took me to get my height and weight measured. He said an offer is going to come.”
Fisher has offers from Fresno State, Hawaii, Houston, San Diego State, San Jose State and Washington State.
Dorton’s attendance could also be seen as significant given that he is set to announce his commitment in a ceremony on Friday.
On Saturday, ESPN 300 tight end Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) took in practice. His interest in the Trojans has increased drastically since landing an offer in early May.
"It's very high," Dixon said.
Defensive end prospects call shots
While the Trojans missed on four-star defensive end Connor Humphreys (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic), who committed to Arizona State over Oregon State, UCLA, USC and Wisconsin on Saturday, another ESPN 300 prospect included them in his top five when four-star prospect Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) listed Arizona State, Oregon, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and USC as his finalists.
Cunningham, the teammate of former Trojans offensive tackle commit Casey Tucker, intends to officially visit campus this fall. Cunningham’s father, Rick, played his college ball at Texas A&M.
As for Humphreys, the decision is final.
“I will take only one official visit to Arizona State,” he said.
No. 2-rated OT planning visit
The Trojans have been marginally successful in recruiting the Sunshine State the last few years by signing Leonard Williams and Quinton Powell, and the assistant coaches figure to keep going back to the region, especially with prospects like ESPN 300 offensive tackle David Sharpe (Jacksonville, Fla./Providence School) showing interest.
Sharpe, the No. 1-rated player in Florida, said he intends to officially visit USC at some point this fall, but hasn’t locked down a date yet.
“It’s a great program with great coaches,” the 6-foot-6, 288-pound Sharpe said. “Also, I like their offensive play style.”
Sharpe's offer list includes Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia and Ohio State.