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Thursday, January 17, 2013
Big weekend ahead for Trojans

By Blair Angulo

LOS ANGELES -- The big one has arrived.

With three uncommitted prospects and six verbal commits scheduled to officially visit campus Friday, USC has lined up its targets.

Less than three weeks remain until national signing day, and now, it’s closing time.

Five-star defensive Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer) is the most significant visitor this weekend among a list that includes uncommitted linebackers Matthew Thomas (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington) and Quinton Powell (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland), as well as commits Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy), Michael Hutchings (Concord, Calif./De La Salle), Steven Mitchell (Mission Hills, Calif./Bishop Alemany), Jason Hatcher (Louisville, Ky./Trinity), Nico Falah (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and Khaliel Rodgers (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy).

Eddie Vanderdoes
Five-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes is one of six decommits that USC has suffered in the 2013 class.
Vanderdoes, the former Trojans commit who opened up his recruitment prior to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, previously visited UCLA and Washington, and has pending trips to Notre Dame (Jan. 25) and Alabama (Feb. 2). It’s imperative that USC makes a major impression.

If Vanderdoes is to re-enter the fold, this weekend will be key.

“I know the recruitment of [Texas commit] A’Shawn [Robinson] was the thing that got Eddie shaken up a little bit,” said Hutchings, who has developed a strong relationship with the fellow Northern California-based player. “A good thing is that all of [the Trojans’] early enrollees will be there and get a chance to hang out with us. Our whole class will be on campus at the same time, really. That will help. I know Eddie and Kenny [Bigelow] are really close, too, so that’s a big deal. That was a big deal at the Army game; all of us being there together and Eddie seeing that. I know he felt a little left out by everyone, but him seeing that hopefully helps us out a little bit this weekend, too.”

Since committing to the Trojans in July, Hutchings has been the only linebacker in the recruiting class. USC’s pursuit of Thomas, the No. 1-rated OLB, and Powell, the No. 6-rated OLB, have not fazed him, though.

“I met both of them at The Opening last summer, but I’ve talked to Quinton a few times before,” Hutchings said. “It’d be great to have them if they want to join. It’s no big deal to me even though they are linebackers. ... Even if you’re coming in with two other linebackers, that’s a great situation to be in. I’ve never really looked at the situation that way, but the coaching staff hasn’t been saying I’m the only linebacker they’re bringing in. They’ve been telling me they may get one more guy. It’s not a surprise to me, that’s why it’s not a big deal. They’ve been straight up with me about that.”

Ramsey, meanwhile, will take his fifth and final official visit after seeing what Florida (Sept. 21), Mississippi State (Nov. 30), Washington (Dec. 7) and Florida State (Jan. 11) had to offer. The No. 4-rated cornerback unofficially visited USC to see the Trojans play Notre Dame, but this trip carries heavier meaning. Ramsey and his father, Lamont, are excited to meet a new defensive coordinator.

“Jalen is comfortable with the school, the surroundings and the other guys,” Lamont said. “He just wants to make sure that everything is still going to fit to what he’s trying to accomplish.”

Falah, who previously visited Oregon (Nov. 17), Washington (Dec. 7) and Oklahoma (Dec. 14), had an in-home meeting with former Oregon coach Chip Kelly on Monday night and was scheduled to host members of the Washington coaching staff Thursday night.

“Even though I’ve been to USC a lot on unofficial visits, this is big,” Falah said. “I’m ready for the official visit. I’m ready to see what they have to offer and for them to throw out the red carpet for me. I’m excited to be there with the other commits, too. It’s going to be a solid weekend. ... USC has pretty much showed me everything and answered all of my questions. But I still want to see the depth chart and see where I’ll fit in, where I can contribute.”

Hatcher’s visit is also important in the sense that hometown Louisville isn't likely to decelerate its effort. Hatcher, a four-star defensive end, is expected to give Louisville the last look before signing day.

Both Mitchell and Rodgers did not officially visit any other schools, so they seem solid and this will be a time for them to bond with the rest of the class.