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Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Recruit notes: Polamalu reaction and more

By Blair Angulo

If their reactions on social media were any indication, current USC football team members were certainly affected by the departure of assistant coach Kennedy Polamalu earlier this month. A number of them voiced their concerns through Twitter and other networks, adding their two cents on what many considered to be a puzzling move by coach Lane Kiffin.

Running back signees Justin Davis (Stockton, Calif./Lincoln) and Ty Isaac (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic Academy) were particularly startled upon learning their position coach was gone. Davis wrote, “Lot of thoughts right now” and “This can’t be happening,” while Isaac seemed dumbfounded after having met with Polamalu in Illinois just a few days earlier.

Toa Lobendahn
Lakewood (Calif.) High School offensive lineman Toa Lobendahn was surprised by Kennedy Polamalu's departure, but it shouldn't affect his commitment to USC.
The sentiment was the same among local recruits, but the effect Polamalu’s departure will have on 2014 recruiting won’t be known for some time.

ESPN Watch List member Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) remains committed to the Trojans, but the offensive guard admits he was surprised by the news.

“I thought about it a little bit,” Lobendahn said, “but it’s a decision that I hope is best for the program. I’m always in contact with my position coach, James Cregg, so I’m all set. It’s a great situation for me. I plan to graduate early. I can’t wait.”

Polamalu is highly respected in the greater Los Angeles area not just as a knowledgeable coach and tireless recruiter, but as a person as well. He has long-standing relationships throughout the region, becoming the lead contact for many of the area’s top high school coaches.

Perhaps most notably, Polamalu spearheaded USC’s pursuit of the city’s most coveted 2014 athletes: Adoree’ Jackson of Gardena Serra and John “JuJu” Smith of Long Beach Poly. Both bagged USC offers in January but had not heard from the Trojans' coaching staff since.

Jackson in particular had not been informed about the program’s upcoming, on-campus junior day event.

“I have no clue,” Jackson said. “I haven’t heard a word.”

Not only was Polamalu key in the decisions of Davis and Isaac, but the assistant coach also was instrumental in the recruitment of top-rated safety Su’a Cravens (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta).

Now, USC is left with a void that might prove critical in next year’s recruiting class.

ESPN Watch List linebacker patiently waits
On Monday afternoon, Arizona became the ninth Pac-12 school to extend a scholarship offer to highly regarded linebacker Dwight Williams (Gardena, Calif./Serra). Oregon, Stanford and USC are the only schools in the conference missing from Williams’ offer list, but the 6-foot-1, 200-pound standout said in a text message it's just a matter of time until he completes his collection.

Williams did not know if he’d make it to USC’s junior day this weekend.

Moreno Valley (Calif.) Rancho Verde has promising three
A number of highly rated prospects have gone through Inland Empire powerhouse Rancho Verde in recent years, most notably Florida’s Ronald Powell and USC’s Junior Pomee. Offensive lineman Poasi Moala (UCLA) and receiver Damore'ea Stringfellow (Washington) signed their national letters of intent earlier this month.

Dual-threat quarterback Sheriron Jones, athlete Cedric Peterson and lineman Tevita Halalilo appear to be next in line, though they will only be juniors this fall. The 2015 prospects will “all be BCS-level players” and “USC-caliber recruits,” according to Rancho Verde coach Pete Duffy.

“He is a high-major quarterback,” Duffy said of Jones. “A legitimate freak.”