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Friday, January 18, 2013
Recruits react to Pendergast hire

By Blair Angulo

USC’s search for a new defensive coordinator might have been a lengthy process, but the overall response among recruits following the hire of Clancy Pendergast on Friday was positive.

From a recruiting standpoint, familiarity with Pendergast is the biggest plus.

Chris Hawkins
USC's Chris Hawkins, a four-star CB recruit who enrolled early with the Trojans, is thrilled with the Clancy Pendergast hire.
“He is a great coach, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for our defense,” said cornerback Chris Hawkins, an early enrollee who is already on campus taking classes.

Hawkins took an official visit Cal in October when Pendergast was the defensive coordinator there, so he has a standing relationship with the 45-year-old coach.

“Hopefully, I can get with him early on and learn some things,” Hawkins said.

Longtime commit Michael Hutchings also had a prior relationship with Pendergast, who recruited the four-star linebacker at Cal.

“Coach Pendergast is a sharp guy to bring into the program, and I’m excited about the announcement,” Hutchings said. “He has a track record that is respected and he has had success in the conference. I’m ready to have my in-home with him and Coach Kiffin next week to see where I fit in inside his scheme.”

Four-star cornerback commit Jalen Ramsey hoped a defensive coordinator would be in place by Friday before the start of USC’s big recruiting weekend, his father, Lamont, said. The announcement allows the Trojans to offer recruits a vision for the immediate future.

“A lot of people are trying to say it doesn’t matter who they get as defensive coordinator, but it does,” Lamont said. “If you’re a defensive player, it really does make a difference. It’s almost like saying if you’re a quarterback, it doesn’t matter if they have a good offensive coordinator or not. It does.”

Pendergast's new scheme is also an important factor, Lamont said.

“Jalen’s a big guy,” Lamont said of his 6-foot, 190-pound son. “He’s hoping that they get a defensive coordinator that will let him be aggressive, someone that wants to play press coverage and isn’t afraid to put his corners in press.”

Four-star defensive tackle commit Kenny Bigelow had not met Pendergast, but sounded optimistic about the hire.

“So Coach Pendergast I've been hearing great things about you. And now I'm excited to play for u,” Bigelow wrote on Twitter.

Former USC commit Eddie Vanderdoes, who will visit this weekend, also had positive things to say.

“Pendergast is the coolest dude! Haha I remember seeing him when I visited Cal all the time! Funny guy too, believe that,” he wrote on Twitter.