USC Trojans: Barry Ware

Pac-12 recruiting storylines: Oct. 31 

October, 31, 2013

Arizona State and Oregon added to top-40 classes earlier this week, as the Sun Devils grabbed another ESPN 300 prospect and the Ducks flexed their muscles in Texas. USC softened its policy against in-season visitors, while UCLA will look to take advantage of hosting a committed visitor of its own this weekend.

Arizona State adds another

It didn't come as much of a surprise when ESPN 300 outside linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) verbally committed to Arizona State this past Sunday, but that didn't make the commitment any less important for the Sun Devils. Head coach Todd Graham's program is picking up steam on the recruiting trail as it puts together wins on the field. Calhoun joins teammate Jalen Harvey and four-star tackle Sam Jones (Highlands Ranch, Colo./ThunderRidge) as recent commitments for Arizona State, while quarterback Manny Wilkins (Novato, Calif./San Marin) continues to do an excellent job in selling the program to recruits. It wouldn't be a surprise to see the Sun Devils eventually reel in California prospects Michael Lazarus (Berkeley, Calif./Berkeley), Kammy Delp (Pomona, Calif./Diamond Ranch) and Demario Richard (Palmdale, Calif./Palmdae), as the buzz -- especially in California -- continues to grow. Arizona State now has the nation's No. 25 recruiting class -- up three spots due to the updated ESPN 300 -- and sits just behind No. 24 Stanford and No. 20 Arizona as the third-best class in the Pac-12.

Hollins hollers for Oregon

4-star ATH Smith dominates in all phases 

September, 18, 2013
MISSION VIEJO, Calif. -- ESPN 300 athlete John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) might just be the most feared safety on the West Coast given his tackling ability and instinctual style of play. His receiving skills might not be far behind, forcing some schools to recruit him as an offensive player.

Here’s the scarier thing for high schools scheduled to face Long Beach Poly this fall: the 6-foot-1, 206-pound prospect figures to have a role as a ball carrier. That much was evident in a victory against powerhouse Corona (Calif.) Centennial in the Mission Viejo Classic. Smith scored two touchdowns and had 150 yards of total offense.

Juju Smith
Blair Angulo/ESPNJohn "JuJu" Smith, who is No. 38 in the ESPN 300, will take an official visit to USC on Jan. 17.
On Monday of game week, Smith practiced at wide receiver. On Tuesday, he focused on defensive back and worked at running back the following day.

“And on Thursday,” Smith said, “I played a little bit of quarterback. It’s a great feeling to do whatever I need to help out my team.”

Smith grew up playing running back before moving to receiver four years ago, so it’s not entirely a new concept. The selfless attitude is just one of the many reasons why Smith has drawn droves of college coaches to Long Beach.

Where Smith will go, though, has yet to be determined. The No. 3-rated athlete will take all five official visits, including one to Notre Dame on Oct. 18 for the USC game and another to Oregon on Oct. 25 for the UCLA game.

Smith has not seen childhood favorite USC in person this season. Rather than attend the Trojans’ game against Boston College on Saturday, Smith opted to watch close friend Damien Mama of powerhouse Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco take on Chandler (Ariz.) instead. He was glad to not have been at the Coliseum for the Trojans’ loss to Washington State in the home opener.

“I was happy I didn’t go,” Smith said. “I’m not saying it’s embarrassing but, dude, it’s USC. … With Lane Kiffin’s situation, it’s really depressing to me and probably a lot of guys.”

Smith, like many of the top local recruits, will continue to take a wait-and-see approach with the Trojans.

“It’s a home school. I love USC,” Smith said. “Growing up as a kid watching Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and all those guys.”

According to Smith, recruits talk with each other about the USC coaching situation. Some wonder what is wrong and already have their eyes set on different options. Others, like Smith, are content to let things unravel.

“You know what would be crazy? If Pete Carroll came back,” Smith said jokingly. “I would commit on the spot. ... We all love Tee Martin. We all love our recruiting guy. I want to hear more from the DB coach at USC. I don’t want to be recruited just as a wide receiver -- I want to do both. If I do go to USC, I would love to be back there with Su’a Cravens.”

‘Biggie’ steps up in big game

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Notebook: Run sets up pass for Trojans

September, 17, 2013
One of the most compelling stats from the Boston College game for the USC offense is the fact that the Trojans were able to achieve such good balance on a day when they put up over 500 yards of total offense.

USC ended the day with 521 yards of offense -- 257 on the ground and 264 through the air. But what makes it even more interesting is the fact that those 264 passing yards came on only 19 attempts. The Trojans don’t need to throw the ball 40 times a game to put up big numbers; the stats will come if the run game is setting the tone and if they are spreading the ball around with the right play calls.

[+] EnlargeJustin Davis
Chris Williams/Icon SMIUSC's Justin Davis ran for 96 yards and a touchdown vs. Boston College.
USC coach Lane Kiffin has done a commendable job so far this year of sticking with the commitment to the run as the Trojans have averaged more than 43 rushing attempts per game. It helps when the attempts are producing good yardage and that has been the case with the Trojans averaging 4.5 yards per rush, a number that figures to grow as the backs get more experience and the offensive line continues to gel. Think about it: the Trojans are running the ball well with two backs who had never carried the ball in a college game prior to this season.

On Saturday, the Trojans also came out and did a good job of spreading the ball around. The first six passes that Cody Kessler completed went to six different receivers. By the time the second quarter rolled around, the Trojans had shown the run and the ability to use other players so the Eagles decided to use single coverage on Marqise Lee. That was just a simple Kessler toss to the flat, Lee made one guy miss and that was all she wrote for an 80-yard touchdown.

What’s ironic is that while Lee might be the most explosive player in college football, the Trojans are actually very effective when his catches are limited. USC is 5-0 in games when Lee has two catches and 14-9 in all other Lee games. I doubt Kiffin is going to use that stat as an excuse to start reducing Lee’s touches but it shows how successful the team can be when Lee isn’t forced to carry too much of the load.

Dynamic duo: The Trojans couldn’t have asked for a much better start from the tailback duo of Tre Madden and Justin Davis. Both players have been impressive in, as mentioned above, their first college action at tailback. Madden has been the lead performer with his powerful yet smooth style that has allowed him to go for over 100 yards in each of the first three games to open the season. The last USC tailback to do that was Marcus Allen in his 1981 Heisman-winning season. The true freshman Davis is averaging more than 6.5 yards per carry with 172 yards on 26 carries. It will be interesting to see what will happen when projected starter Silas Redd returns from injury. The latest depth chart released on Sunday night for the Trojans shows Madden as the starter with no “or” designation next to his name, a clear sign that Kiffin is content with what he’s seen so far.

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The upcoming “Battle at the Beach” passing tournament at Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison is the last major 7-on-7 event of the summer before the high school football season kicks off in late August. A bevy of USC recruits are expected to compete at the beachside campus on Saturday.

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Corona (Calif.) Centennial was the place to be for college coaches this past Thursday, as the Huskies went through their spring showcase event designed to give schools from every level a chance to evaluate the juniors and top underclassmen. More than 30 schools were represented, including coaches from Alabama, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington.

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