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Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Recruiting notebook: Tugging at McGraw

By Blair Angulo

Six years ago, safety Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian) saw local icon Joe McKnight leave for USC in pursuit of college football glory. McGraw understood the significance then, realizing the Trojans could reel in the best prospects to its sun-drenched campus regardless of region.

Now, the fast-rising athlete is planning his own West Coast trip to gauge whether he’d like to follow in McKnight’s footsteps again.

McGraw received an offer from Oregon on Monday, and he said contact with USC assistant coach Tee Martin has picked up considerably in recent weeks. According to McGraw, an offer from the Trojans could be on the horizon.

“Things have been picking up for me for sure,” McGraw said. “It's been pretty rapid. USC has shown significant interest. I got an invite to their camp last Monday. I talked to my mother and she decided I can take a trip out there in June. I didn't make it to their junior day, but I look forward to seeing the campus this summer.”

McGraw recently added offers from Indiana, Louisiana-Lafayette, Southern Miss and Tennessee to raise his total to two dozen. He is part of yet another strong John Curtis group that includes ESPN Watch List members Malachi Dupre and Kenny Young.

McGraw said he will visit Los Angeles to compete in the USC Rising Stars Camp on June 25. He also intends to check out UCLA on the same trip, as Bruins assistant coach Demetrice Martin has made an impression on the 6-foot, 180-pound prospect.

“I definitely plan to check out both schools,” McGraw said. “I'm open to going anywhere. Distance won't play a factor at all. I want to get out of state. Going to USC and playing football there has always been a dream of mine, but as I've gotten older I know it’s not just football there. I have USC high on my list and, though I don't have any favorites, I highly anticipate having USC up there in the end.”

McGraw said the Trojans coaching staff is set to review his film and has been told an offer could soon follow.

“It's a dream school,” he said.

McGraw’s list of offers includes Arizona, Arizona State, Arkansas, Baylor, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

Juco running back lands Trojans offer

De’Chavon Hayes (Scranton, Pa./Lackawanna College) admits he didn’t have qualifying grades coming out of Richmond (Va.) Varina High School, so subsequent low interest from major football programs was warranted.

“There wasn’t any buzz,” Hayes said with a laugh.

Following an impressive freshman season in the National Junior College Athletic Association, Hayes is on the radar.

On Sunday, USC became the latest offer for the 5-foot-10 tailback, joining Arizona State, N.C. State, Rutgers, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.

“I’m really excited,” Hayes said. “Every kid grows up watching USC. I was a big Reggie Bush fan when I was younger. I really admired his speed and vision. And people forget LenDale White was also a 1,000-yard rusher there. With USC, you’re talking about the best players. They have a balanced offense with both the run and pass, so that’s exciting.”

Hayes averaged 10.2 yards per rush, accumulated 1,300 all-purpose yards and 10 total touchdowns last fall. He returned two kickoffs for scores.

USC signed Justin Davis and Ty Isaac -- both power backs -- in February. Hayes would theoretically fit the need for a speed back in the 2014 class.

“I want to make a decision hopefully before the fall,” Hayes said. “Once I take some visits this summer, I’ll have a better idea of where I want to go. When I start looking at schools closely, USC will definitely be among my top choices.”

Notre Dame joins pursuit of top USC targets

Two of the most notable recruits in the Los Angeles area, Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), were both offered by Notre Dame within the last week.

The Fighting Irish dipped into Orange County to snag one-time USC commit Max Redfield and also landed former Trojans pledge Eddie Vanderdoes on national signing day.

Jackson and Smith figure to be the most coveted prospects in the area this recruiting cycle, and the Trojans will certainly have to battle several schools for their signatures.

Jackson is originally from Illinois and intends to unofficially visit Notre Dame this summer when he takes a family trip to the Midwest. Smith grew up a USC fan, but has stated his plans to explore all of his options before narrowing his long list of suitors.