Monday, January 27, 2014
Trojans capitalize on big weekend
By Blair Angulo
ESPN 300 prospects Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) might have headlined the list of official visitors who spent the weekend at USC, but it was a pair of teammates from Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure who stole the spotlight.
Class of 2015 quarterback Ricky Town verbally committed to the Trojans on Saturday night, just hours after decommitting from Alabama, and No. 1-rated tight end Bryce Dixon re-affirmed his pledge on Sunday morning, capping a monstrous weekend that put USC in great shape with national signing day just over a week away.
Mama and Smith are scheduled to announce their college decisions on Feb. 5, so they weren’t necessarily expected to tip their hand this weekend. Dixon, however, had a remaining visit to UCLA scheduled for Jan. 31, but the Trojans did enough to eliminate that from his plans.
“The weekend was perfect and everything I wanted the visit to be,” Dixon said. “I’m 100 percent on my commitment after this weekend, for sure. I’m not going to take that visit to UCLA at the end of the month. I was pretty sure before arriving on campus, but on the visit the coaches showed me how they are going to use me in their offense. I was a bit skeptical on that at first, but I’m real comfortable after getting reassurance. I’m not going to UCLA, and I’m not trying to lead them on. I’m a Trojan.”
It also didn’t hurt knowing that Town committed to head coach Steve Sarkisian and offensive coordinator Clay Helton on Saturday.
“That was big,” Dixon said. “He’s going to come in, and we’re going to have a connection. He’s going to do his thing. He’s a great quarterback. You can’t ask for a better quarterback in college. We’re going to be attacking the same plays, and it’s going to be an easier transition for Ricky.”
Another highly-coveted prospect who the Trojans snatched away from Alabama’s grasp, ESPN 300 offensive guard Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial), also officially visited campus. Talamaivao rescheduled his visit to USC when Mama and Smith pushed theirs back. The primary reason was so he could help recruit his close friends to join him.
Talamaivao, according to his father, Chris, enjoyed his time alongside the top targets.
“Viane’s favorite part, just from talking to him, was just being there with everyone, with JuJu and Damien, and seeing Toa Lobendahn and J.R. Tavai coming over,” Chris said. “With our family, it’s sure that Viane is solid. So I got a kick out of watching the reaction of Damien’s parents and JuJu’s folks. That was the biggest thing. They loved it and seemed pretty sold.”
The two out-of-state visitors were ESPN 300 cornerback Arrion Springs (San Antonio, Texas/Theodore Roosevelt) and three-star cornerback Lamont Simmons (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines). Even though Springs remained committed to Oregon following his trip to Los Angeles, the Trojans could not be faulted for trying to flip the No. 6-rated cornerback in the 2014 class.
Simmons, meanwhile, might be a more realistic option for assistant coach Keith Heyward. USC is expected to meet with the 6-foot-2, 180-pound defensive back early this week, though a final trip to Penn State remains on the itinerary.
After seeing high school teammate Shay Fields Jr. (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and the Trojans part ways recently, ESPN 300 defensive end Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) faced some uncertainty of his own. Yet, much of that anxiety disappeared following an in-home meeting with the USC coaches last week.
For Dorton, the weekend offered additional clarity.
“About a week before the official visit, I squared everything away with the coaches, so a lot of my questions were already answered before I even came in,” Dorton said. “It was just a matter of me coming in and getting to know the coaches. They were telling me they want to use me as a stand-up rusher coming off the edge and dropping back in coverage, too.”
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound Dorton said he might meet with USC sometime this week, and he could still take another official visit at the end of the month, though he added that it is highly unlikely. He would not elaborate on which schools are in the running, though he has mentioned Arizona State and Washington as possibilities in the past.
Three-star outside linebacker Jabril Frazier (Los Angeles/Verbum Dei) met with new defensive line coach Chris Wilson and, despite leaving campus without a USC scholarship offer, he sounded excited.
“Basically, it’s a numbers game right now,” Frazier said. “The coaches are meeting with my parents again this week, and they’ve told me anything can change. If somebody decommits or someone doesn’t commit, it’s my scholarship.”
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Frazier has an in-home visit scheduled with Boise State for Wednesday, and he said he’ll know then whether he will visit the Broncos on Jan. 31. He might not make a choice until after signing day.
“It’s a very difficult decision,” Frazier said. “It’s more than just football. It’s all about the power of the degree and what you can do after football.”