Saturday, January 25, 2014
USC gets relief with Town commitment
By Blair Angulo
For USC head coach Steve Sarkisian, this weekend was supposed to be about sealing the deal with some top targets who were officially visiting campus, but it quickly transformed into so much more.
Most of the focus centered on a group of highly touted prospects from the 2014 class, including John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), as the Trojans hosted a large group of recruits with less than two weeks remaining until national signing day. Yet, the buzz shifted toward the future as Sarkisian reached into the 2015 class to make perhaps his biggest splash since arriving from Washington, securing a verbal commitment from Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure), the No. 2-rated pocket passer who decommitted from Alabama earlier in the day.
Consider it a major coup for USC, which made Town its top priority at quarterback and managed to flip him in a short period of time.
Consider it doubly important given that the Trojans didn't have the easiest time recruiting the position in the 2014 class before signing mid-year enrollee Jalen Greene (Gardena, Calif./Serra). Former head coach Lane Kiffin offered only four-star pocket passer Keller Chryst (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto), but he committed to Stanford, while Ed Orgeron set his sights on four-star Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade) before leaving the helm.
There was another dimension to Town's commitment, though.
The Trojans, of course, have held a pledge from 2015 quarterback David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) for nearly four years, but Sills gave his word to Kiffin and not Sarkisian. Eastern Christian Academy coach Dwayne Thomas said Saturday he expected Sarkisian to meet with Sills this coming week to discuss the situation, though the outlook doesn't appear too promising for Sills with Town now a part of the class.
"I am not holding my breath," Thomas said.
It all developed very quickly. Town visited the USC campus on consecutive weekends, dropping by the second time Saturday while high school teammate and good friend Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure), the No. 1-rated tight end, was making his official visit. It's certainly not a stretch to think Town's commitment will help the Trojans retain Dixon, who is supposed to visit UCLA at the end of the month.
USC fans might be able to breathe a bit easier when thinking about the quarterback position. Redshirt freshman Max Browne will compete with juniors Cody Kessler and Max Wittek for the starting position, while Greene will also get his first taste during spring practice. Town would theoretically join the competition when he steps foot on campus.
The spotlight was expected to shine on the likes of Smith and Mama this weekend, but USC not only nabbed its quarterback of the future, but Sarkisian got an important piece that he will be able to sell to recruits moving forward.