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Thursday, May 2, 2013
2014 offense recruiting breakdown

By Blair Angulo

Nearly three months have passed since national signing day and USC’s 2014 recruiting board is slowly taking shape as the spring evaluation period rolls on. With up to 20 available scholarships, the Trojans look to add to the six offensive prospects they signed in the last recruiting cycle. Here’s a look at where USC stands in its offensive recruiting:

Quarterback

Targets: Keller Chryst (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto), Kyle Allen (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain), Brandon Dawkins (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade), Hunter Boyett (Miami, Fla./Westminster Christian School), Ian Fieber (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo), Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif./San Marin).

Kyle Allen
USC coaches have started the conversation with pocket passer Kyle Allen out of Arizona, but no offer yet.
Outlook: Who will USC sandwich between 2013 signee Max Browne and 2015 commit David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy)? Chryst is the only quarterback the Trojans have offered, a risky move since he is also the No. 1 priority for hometown program Stanford. Allen, the No. 5 pocket passer in the ESPN 150, and Dawkins have had contact with USC in recent weeks, while Kaaya attended junior day in late February. Schools would prefer to take a quarterback every year, but if the Trojans whiff on Chryst this recruiting cycle, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them take Sills and another in 2015, given the plethora of local options.

Running back

Targets: Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), Nathan Starks (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman), Racean Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford), Royce Freeman (Imperial, Calif./Imperial), Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdale), De’Chavon Hayes (Richmond, Va./Lackawanna College), Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine), Donald Catalon (Houston, Texas/Eisenhower), Dalvin Cook (Miami/Central), Elijah Hood (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Catholic), Jalen Hurd (Hendersonville, Tenn./Beech), Ronnie Clark (Calera, Ala./Calera).

Outlook: Mixon has nearly 50 offers, but trimmed his list to 16 and visited USC this past weekend along with good friends D.J. Calhoun, Michael Lazarus and Adarius Pickett. Mixon said he is USC’s top running back target, and he’s considering the Trojans despite the signings of Justin Davis and Ty Isaac in 2013. Starks has Alabama, Notre Dame and Oklahoma in hot pursuit, but his recent dismissal from high school adds an unexpected layer to his recruitment. Freeman and Richard are two local prospects that could receive offers with good performances at the Rising Stars Camp in June. Catalon (Texas), Cook (Florida), Hood (Notre Dame) and Yearby (Miami) have all come off the board but with national signing day still nine months away there’s time for USC to get at least one running back in this class.

Receiver

Targets: John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Edison), Ermon Lake (Homestead, Fla./Homestead), Demarre Kitt (Tyrone, Ga./Sandy Creek), Jalen Brown (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe) Adly Enoicy (Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic), Erik Brown (Fontana, Calif./Summit), Jake McCrary (Miami/Coral Reef), Dominic Collins (Lake Forest, Calif./El Toro), Jeff Farrar (Upland, Calif./Upland).

Outlook: “JuJu” is so highly regarded that coach Lane Kiffin let him choose which position he’d prefer in college. Smith said receiver and, after signing only Steven Mitchell in 2013, that’s where the Trojans would love to take him. He has a top six of USC, UCLA, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Washington, but USC has to be considered the favorite at this point given his childhood fandom. Quick is another “athlete” that could very well play defensive back in college, but USC would gladly sign him before having to sort out those intricacies. It shouldn’t hurt that Quick’s teammate, Tashon Smallwood, is already committed to the Trojans. Lane, the top receiver in the ESPN 150, intends to officially visit USC during the season. And, as far as local prospects go, Erik Brown is certainly one to keep tabs on.

Tight end

Targets: Tyler Luatua (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain), Marquis Ware (Los Angeles/Salesian), Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure), Vincent Jackson Jr. (Tampa, Fla./Jesuit), Darrell Cloy Jr. (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), Chase Blakley (Coeur D'Alene, Ida./Coeur D'Alene), Ian Bunting (Hindsale, Ill./Central).

Outlook: With Bunting committing to Michigan shortly after visiting USC last month, the importance of landing Luatua, who has gained considerable attention from Notre Dame, increased drastically. The Trojans did not take a tight end in the 2013 class, so even if they beat out Alabama and Notre Dame for Luatua, they’d surely welcome Andrews, a top pass-catcher, as well.

Offensive line

Targets: Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Jermaine Eluemunor (Rockaway, N.J./Lackawanna College JC), Dontavius Blair (Anniston, Ala./Garden City Community College), Orlando Brown Jr. (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge), Damian Prince (Forestville, Md./Bishop McNamara), Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial), Alex Bookser (Pittsburgh/Mount Lebanon), Braden Smith (Olathe, Kan./Olathe South), Rod Taylor (Jackson, Miss./Callaway).

Outlook: The Trojans have commitments from two linemen, as guard Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) and tackle Jordan Poland (La Jolla, Calif./Country Day School) pledged before their junior seasons. Tucker, an ESPN 150 tackle, decommitted recently but assistant coach Tommie Robinson visited with him shortly thereafter, suggesting that USC will continue to pursue him until the end. Juco linemen Eluemunor and Blair would be ready physically, which would be ideal after signing only Nico Falah and Khaliel Rodgers in February. Mama is a big priority, at least locally, while Talamaivao could get the elusive offer sooner rather than later.