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Saturday, October 19, 2013
USC targets are unsung players at Serra

By Blair Angulo

GARDENA, Calif. -- Five-star athlete Adoree’ Jackson makes perennial Southern California powerhouse Gardena (Calif.) Serra go with his speed, explosiveness and flair.

Four-star linebacker Dwight Williams brings personality, Boise State quarterback commit Jalen Greene brings confidence and 2015 standouts Rasheem Green and John Houston Jr. bring promise.

Somewhere in between those highly touted recruits stand receiver Jordan Lasley and defensive end Olajuwon Tucker. They might not be big names yet, but they bring just as much impact to Serra.

Lasley and Tucker recently bagged USC scholarship offers, an indication that they are major priorities for interim head coach Ed Orgeron and ace recruiter Tee Martin. They might have had to wait a bit longer to gain fame, but the three-star prospects have officially arrived on scene.

Jordan Lasley
Jordan Lasley is committed to UCLA, but grew up a USC fan and recently received an offer.
Tucker committed to the Trojans on Friday night following a 36-0 blowout victory against league rival West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade and Miami quarterback commit Brad Kaaya, whom USC has targeted since the firing of Lane Kiffin.

“Olajuwon has been our best defensive player this year and we’ve got a lot of great defensive players,” Serra coach Scott Altenberg said. “He’s been out of this world. He’s been amazing and I’ve been telling people that. All of a sudden he’s starting to get these offers, but we’ve known about it for a while. He was always a bit of a tweener at defensive end and linebacker, but it’s just the way he plays and his motor. He’s a great kid and I’m just real proud of the way he’s playing.

“Jordan, last year, I felt didn’t play as well as he could have when we got him. This year, he has been brilliant. We told him he had to be that or else we were going to be in trouble.”

Lasley, who starred at USC’s Rising Stars Camp, committed to UCLA shortly after competing at the Bruin Elite Camp. He began to gain recognition during the spring as a dynamic playmaker in the 7-on-7 passing league circuit. Though the offer from the Trojans didn’t alter his commitment, Lasley intends to assess the situation the next few months.

“USC was my dream school growing up. I always wanted to go there,” Lasley said. “With USC offering me, it’s definitely something to think about. I am committed to UCLA, but it’s something to think about with coach Tee Martin and the kind of receivers they develop over there.”

Tucker, meanwhile, caught the eyes of recruiters with a blend of size and speed. The 6-foot-3, 214-pound prospect could have easily been an afterthought playing alongside Green, who ranks No. 80 overall in the 2015 class, and in a defense that includes Jackson, Williams, Houston and three-star safety Glen Ihenacho, but Tucker has stuck out in his own right.

“I’ve just been overshadowed and overlooked in my time here,” Tucker said. “I felt like this was the best year for me to shine and really get my grind on.”

Tucker picked up an offer from Boise State just hours before Friday night’s win and said he definitely has interest in visiting the school sometime before national signing day. He holds additional offers from Arizona State, Colorado, Colorado State, Miami, San Diego State, San Jose State, Utah and Washington State. The Trojans, though, appear to be in great shape to hold on to Tucker.

“My parents had a big influence on me,” Tucker said. “We went on an unofficial visit to USC last week a few days after the visit. We went to see the facilities; everything there is great. The coaching staff is great and everybody there is welcoming.”

The Serra-to-USC pipeline is well known, especially with receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee gaining prominence. Lasley is aware of the lineage and also has ties to the Trojans with former Carson (Calif.) High School teammate Darreus Rogers playing receiver there.

“Darreus was fired up for me,” the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Lasley said. “When I got the offer, he congratulated me with a text message. He told me to make the best decision for me. It would be fun to play with Darreus again.”