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Tuesday, August 27, 2013
In-state recruiting appears promising

By Blair Angulo

The effects of USC’s underwhelming 2012 season have been felt on a national scale through the early stages of the current recruiting cycle, as several out-of-state targets have committed elsewhere. At this point last year, the Trojans had already gone into Delaware, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas and Washington for verbal commitments and were on their way to reeling in a pair of Florida-based recruits as well.

Of the dozen prospects USC signed in the 2013 recruiting class, only six hailed from within California’s borders. By contrast, all eight commits in the 2014 class are currently in-state, with ESPN 300 defensive end Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) becoming the most recent pledge last week.

With that trend in mind, here’s a look at where USC’s top in-state targets stand heading into the high school football season:

CB Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra): An electric playmaker, Jackson said he would primarily be a receiver at USC if he ends up with the Trojans, much as former Serra great Marqise Lee did after starring at safety in high school. Jackson likes having the ball in his hands and for good reason -- he might be the area’s most dynamic athlete since Crenshaw’s De’Anthony Thomas. The five-star prospect has a good relationship with assistant coach Tee Martin and has visited a campus on a number of occasions since spring. Track and field remains a major factor in Jackson’s recruitment, which has many believing southern schools such as Florida and Florida State lead for his signature. Yet, with the good season on the field, it’s not difficult to envision USC as Jackson’s landing spot.

ATH John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly): Another two-way standout, Smith first had his eyes set on playing safety before favoring receiver and ultimately going back to defense as his preferred position. According to the No. 3-rated athlete, head coach Lane Kiffin said he could play at any spot at USC. It would appear that the Trojans need receivers more than they do safeties, given the presence of freshmen Su’a Cravens and Leon McQuay III, but Smith certainly possesses the traits to make an immediate impact. Smith has set up visits to Alabama (Nov. 8), Michigan (Nov. 29), Notre Dame (Oct. 18) and Ohio State (Sept. 27), and also has strong interest in Ole Miss. The Trojans, though, should feel good about their chances with the local star, especially with a strong showing this fall.

ATH Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central): USC has been a steady member of Quick’s top group since offering the four-star prospect in February at the junior day event. The Trojans landed a verbal commitment that day from his teammate, four-star defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood, and Quick recently said Smallwood has been in his ear constantly about joining him in Los Angeles. The No. 4-rated athlete will officially visit Oregon, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Alabama, but USC figures to draw at least one unofficial visit from him this fall. Martin added receivers Steven Mitchell and Darreus Rogers to his group in the last recruiting cycle, and Quick would be a tremendous coup for a position that will likely lose Lee to the NFL after this season.

OG Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco): Much like good friend Smith, Mama has lined up some visits, including one to Alabama, but don’t be surprised if he’s in attendance for most of USC’s home games this season. The massive lineman was a spectator at Dorton’s announcement ceremony last week. Will Mama join him in USC’s recruiting class? It’s too early to say, but Mama grew up a Trojans fan and hasn’t said anything to suggest that sentiment has changed.

TE Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure): After a recent visit to USC practice, Dixon described his interest in the Trojans as “very high.” So high, in fact, that USC now appears to be in a head-to-head battle with rival UCLA for the No. 5-rated tight end, despite entering his recruitment relatively late. There are other schools in the running, with an official visit to Oregon already set, but the assumption is Dixon would prefer to stay close to home. He figures to get plenty of attention this fall with highly coveted 2015 quarterback Ricky Town, an Alabama commit, throwing him the ball.

CB Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito): Pickett, a teammate of USC outside linebacker commit D.J. Calhoun, is scheduled to take his official visit to UCLA this weekend. He’s expected to return to Los Angeles for a game at the Coliseum at some point this fall after visiting campus twice this offseason. With Jackson saying he will play receiver and other prospects committing elsewhere, Pickett would appear to be the top priority at cornerback for the Trojans. Calhoun said at The Opening that he would continue to recruit Pickett to join him, and USC might be considered the leader heading into the season.