USC Trojans: Clifton Garrett

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: The Trojans are in great shape to land ESPN 300 defensive end Malik Dorton and remain a viable option for top California talent, what one SEC recruiter thinks LSU’s chances are with Clifton Garrett, and a busy September is on tap for the Huskers with official visits.

Things were much quieter for USC recruiting this July than they were in the same month last year, when the Trojans landed verbal commitments from eight highly touted prospects to bring their total to a whopping 18 before the start of the high school season. USC ended up signing only six defensive players in the last recruiting cycle, but the Trojans appear to be in better shape this time around. Here’s a breakdown of where the Trojans stand in their defensive recruiting heading into August:

Defensive end

Targets: Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Connor Humphreys (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic), Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), Jaylen Johnson (Corona, Calif./Centennial), Dewayne Hendrix (O’Fallon, Ill./O’Fallon Township), Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge), Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross), Dante Sawyer (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett)

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With the upcoming season on the horizon, 2014 high school prospects can begin planning official visits for the fall. ESPN 300 linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) has named his first official visit.

Garrett, No. 59 in the ESPN 300, will officially visit Ole Miss the weekend of Oct. 18.


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Video: WeAreSC at The Opening, Part 2

July, 2, 2013
7/02/13
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Between now and Wednesday, WeAreSC will be live in Beaverton, Ore., catching up with some of the nation's top football players at The Opening. There are plenty of USC targets on hand, and on Monday, Blair Angulo caught up with one of them, while also breaking down the performances of the Trojans' defensive targets.

ESPN 300 CB Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) talks about the schools he'd like to visit Video, as well as the determining factors that will go into his decision.

When it comes to defensive recruits that USC would like to add Video to its 2014 class, players such as Adoree' Jackson, Quincy Wilson, D.J. Calhoun, Clifton Garrett and Richard Yeargin III all had impressive showings. But don't forget about CB Iman Marshall, one of only four 2015 recruits at The Opening.

Video: WeAreSC at The Opening

July, 1, 2013
7/01/13
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Between now and Wednesday, WeAreSC will be live in Beaverton, Ore., catching up with some of the nation's top football players at The Opening. There are plenty of USC targets on hand, and on Sunday, Blair Angulo caught up with three of them.

ESPN 300 OG Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) talks about his recent trip to USC Rising Stars camp Video and what he hopes to accomplish at The Opening.

ESPN 300 ILB Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) breaks down his recruitment Video, as well as what it means to make it to The Opening.

And ESPN 300 DB Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School of Nova South) talks about meeting Lane Kiffin Video at the USC Rising Stars camp, the atmosphere on USC's campus and where his recruitment currently stands.

USC targets check in at The Opening 

June, 30, 2013
6/30/13
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LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- Some of the nation’s top prospects trickled into town Sunday for this week’s The Opening event at Nike Headquarters. Here are some notes regarding USC prospects.


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BRADENTON, Fla. -- ESPN 300 linebacker Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) is one of the most sought-after inside linebackers in the country, ranked third at his position and No. 59 overall in the 2014 class. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound prospect visited Florida with some of his 7-on-7 teammates before they played in the IMG 7v7 National Championships in Bradenton, Fla., over the weekend.


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The Opening, presented by Nike, will feature 162 of the best high school football players in the country. The event, which will include linemen, 7-on-7 and SPARQ testing competitions, is set to run from June 30 to July 3 at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.

The following events from The Opening will be televised on ESPNU:

July 1: SPARQ Rating National Championship, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m. ET

July 2: 7-on-7 Pool Play, 9 p.m.-11:30 p.m. ET

July 3: Linemen Challenge Finals and 7-on-7 semifinal and championship games, 9 p.m.-midnight ET

The players will be divided in to six teams -- Alpha Pro, Apocalypse, Field Generals, Land Sharks, Super Bad and Vapor Carbon. Here is a closer look at how the teams match up.

Team: Alpha Pro
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Jordan Palmer, defensive coordinator Hardy Nickerson

The Alpha Pro team will have plenty of targets to spread the ball around. Ermon Lane and Tyler Luatua, the No. 1-ranked receiver and tight end in the country respectively, bring size and playmaking ability to the passing game. ESPN 300 athletes Corey Holmes, Jalen Hurd, John "JuJu" Smith, Ja'Von Harrison, and Derrell Scott are all explosive offensive weapons.

Defensively Alpha Pro is led by Andrew Brown, the No. 1-ranked defensive tackle in the country, ESPN 150 cornerback Damon Webb, defensive end Andrew Williams, Ohio State linebacker commit Dante Booker and LSU cornerback commit Chris Hardeman.

Complete Alpha Pro roster.

Team: Apocalypse
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Adam Tafralis, defensive coordinator Donovin Darius

The first thing that jumps out about team Apocalypse is the talent in the defensive front seven. Team Apocalypse will be led by five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand and inside linebacker Raekwon McMillan. Hand, from Woodbridge, Va., is the No. 4-ranked player in the country, while McMillan was recently bumped up to a five-star linebacker. Joining Hand and McMillan along the front seven are ESPN 300 defensive linemen Anthony Moten and Ainuu Taua, and linebackers D.J. Calhoun and Rashaan Evans.

Offensively, team Apocalypse has no shortage of playmakers. ESPN 300 wide receivers Artavis Scott, K.D. Cannon and Michiah Quick will provide explosiveness in the passing game, while athletic running backs Joe Mixon and Royce Freeman will provide athletic and reliable targets out of the backfield.

Complete Apocalypse roster.

Team: Field Generals
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Charlie Frye, defensive coordinator Michael Fletcher

Seven-on-seven events are always geared towards the offense, but with five-star defensive back Adoree' Jackson, No. 3-ranked safety Jamal Adams, and ESPN 300 cornerback Adarius Pickett in the secondary, the Field Generals should more than hold their own. New Ohio State defensive end commit Jalyn Holmes and the No. 6-ranked defensive end in the country, Solomon Thomas, will be two to watch along the defensive line.

Offensively, the Field Generals are led by ESPN 300 offensive guard Damien Mama, ESPN 300 wide receivers Austin Roberts and Thaddeus Snodgrass and explosive Notre Dame running back commit Elijah Hood.

Complete Field Generals roster.

Team: Landsharks
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Craig Nall, defensive coordinator Keith Bulluck

The Landsharks have some big-time talent along each line of scrimmage. Led by five-star offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, the Landsharks also feature ESPN 300 offensive guard Corey Martinez. ESPN 300 defensive linemen Gerald Willis III and Thomas Holley, as well as ESPN 300 defensive end Chad Thomas, will form a very physical and athletic defensive line.

In the secondary, the Landsharks will have three defensive backs -- Arrion Springs, Chris Lammons and Tony Brown -- that are ranked among the top 85 players in the country. The defense also features ESPN 150 linebacker Nyles Morgan.

Offensively, explosive running backs Dalvin Cook, a Florida commit, and Racean Thomas form a dangerous tandem out of the backfield, and wide receivers Travis Rudolph and Jalen Harvey are solid receiving threats.

Complete Landsharks roster.

Team: Superbad
Coaches: Offensive coordinator Dennis Gile, defensive coordinator Harold Nash Jr.

The Superbad defense line is led by five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter and ESPN 150 defensive tackle Bijhon Jackson. The linebacking corp is stacked with three ESPN 300 members, including Clifton Garrett, Christian Miller and Edwin Freeman. Cornerback Jalen Tabor is the No. 19-ranked player in the country.

Offensively, Superbad has a huge advantage with the No. 1-ranked prospect in the country, running back Leonard Fournette. This team is loaded on offense, with wide receivers Drake Harris, Josh Malone and Speedy Noil all in the mix.

Complete Superbad roster.

Team: Vapor Carbon
Coaches: Offensive coordinator George Whitfield, defensive coordinator Chris Gizzi.

Vapor Carbon will be tough to throw against with defensive backs Quin Blanding, Naijiel Hale and Ed Paris roaming the field. The linebacker group is just as impressive, with Ohio State commit Kyle Berger, Kain Daub and Dillon Bates all leading the way.

The offense for Vapor Carbon could be lethal with running back Joseph Yearby and Nick Chubb in the backfield. Spreading out wide receivers T.V. Williams, Justin Brent and tight end Ian Bunting on the outside could prove to be an awesome combination for this squad.

Team Vapor Carbon has a lot of pieces to make a long run in the 7-on-7 tournament, but then again, every team is stacked in this competition.

Complete Vapor Carbon roster.

2014 defense recruiting breakdown 

June, 13, 2013
6/13/13
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The 2014 recruiting cycle is more than four months old, which means USC’s board is taking shape as the summer approaches. With up to 20 available scholarships, the Trojans will look to add to the six defensive prospects they signed in the previous cycle. Here’s a look at where USC stands in its defensive recruiting:

Defensive end


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LOS ANGELES -- USC coaches hit the recruiting trail for the first time this spring since the post-signing day staff shakeup, using the evaluation period to reset their boards and assess prospects from all corners of the country.

Here’s an overview of the evaluation period as it relates to defensive recruits:

Defensive line

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Tales From The Road: USC 

May, 22, 2013
5/22/13
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Every Wednesday, the WeAreSC staff will take a quick-hit look at some of the top recruits and storylines facing USC recruiting for the week.

This week’s targets: Assistant coach Ed Orgeron dropped by River Ridge (La.) John Curtis Christian over the weekend to see safety Mattrell McGraw, No. 2-rated receiver Malachi Dupre and four-star linebacker Kenny Young in their spring scrimmage. Assistant coach Mike Ekeler checked in with ESPN 150 linebackers Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) and Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee) at their respective schools on Monday, while three-star outside linebacker Michael Smith (Miami, Fla./Northwestern) said he also received a visit from USC. On Monday night, local receiver Brandon Burton (Gardena, Calif./Serra) became the first Class of 2016 prospect to land a Trojans scholarship offer.

Prospect performance: Last weekend’s Nike Football Training Camp in Oakland had a USC flavor to it. Five-star cornerback Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) shined in one-on-one drills, just a day after winning his section’s track and field title with a record-setting long jump of 25 feet. Jackson received an invitation to The Opening, as did fellow USC targets Joe Mixon, Michiah Quick and Adarius Pickett. Trojans defensive tackle commit Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central) also turned in an impressive performance in pass rushing drills. Fast-rising cornerback John Plattenburg (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and guard Kammy Delp (Pomona, Calif./Diamond Ranch), whom have garnered interest from USC assistant James Cregg, took home DB and OL MVP honors, respectively.

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield) had never been to the University of Alabama. He’d never even been in the state of Alabama. On Friday, the ESPN 150 linebacker made a stop in Tuscaloosa on his way to LSU for the Tigers’ spring game.


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Recruiting notebook: Coaches hit road 

April, 16, 2013
4/16/13
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USC linebackers coach Mike Ekeler returned to his old stomping grounds Monday, kicking off the spring evaluation period by visiting ESPN Watch List member Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) and tight end Ian Bunting (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale Central).

Ekeler, who left Indiana in February to join the Trojans’ coaching staff, attended Garrett’s morning workout before making the 23-mile trip to Bunting’s school. Both prospects hold USC offers.


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