USC Trojans: David Sills

USC recruiting shakeup at QB

June, 30, 2014
After weeks of speculation and rumors, there was a defined shift in the Trojans' recruiting focus at the quarterback position for the Class of 2015 this past weekend when it was reported that Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy's David Sills had officially decommitted from USC, and head coach Steve Sarkisian had followed that up by extending an offer to Sam Darnold of San Clemente (Calif.).

[+] EnlargeSam Darnold
Tom Hauck for Student SportsSam Darnold, the No. 5 ranked pocket-passer in the ESPN 300, recently received a USC offer.
The news that Sills, who was one of two quarterbacks locked up for the Trojans along with Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure's Ricky Town, had decided to break ties with USC didn't exactly come as a surprise. Former Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin made national headlines when he extended an offer to Sills in February of 2010 -- when he was in seventh grade. After immediately committing, the young signal-caller developed a strong rapport with Kiffin and his staff, making it a routine to visit the campus each spring.

Once Kiffin was let go in September of 2013, however, and Sarkisian came in as his replacement following the season, Sills' fate with the Trojans looks to have been sealed. Even though Sills unofficially visited the USC campus recently and offensive coordinator Clay Helton watched Sills work out in Maryland during the May evaluation period, the 6-foot-3 passer never developed the kind of relationship with the new coaching staff that he had with the prior regime.

And with Sarkisian quickly securing a verbal commitment from Town in late January, along with talk abounding that the Trojans were looking closely at other quarterback prospects as well, the writing seemed to be on the wall.

While Sills' departure wasn't a revelation, USC's targeting of Darnold is to a certain extent. Anaheim (Calif.) Servite's Travis Waller -- the No. 6 ranked dual-threat quarterback -- has been a hot name this summer, and someone whom the Trojans staff was known to have been evaluating as of late. Standing 6-foot-3 and 188 pounds, he's expected to announce his commitment to a school on Tuesday, with Oregon, Notre Dame, Northwestern and Ohio State looking like the primary contenders. The Trojans are not among the schools that have extended an offer his way, however, and Waller opted to forgo an opportunity to perform in front of the USC staff last week at the Rising Stars Camp.

That appears to be one factor that played a role in Darnold -- who attended USC's 7-on-7 Camp, and was said to have shined -- ultimately landing an offer. And there is certainly plenty more to like about the 6-foot-4, 209-pound passer. Selected to participate in the 2014 Elite 11 Finals in early July along with Town and Waller, he's the No. 89 ranked prospect overall in the ESPN 300, and he's the No. 5 ranked pocket-passer. And despite that label, Darnold is a fantastic all-around athlete who can also do quite a bit of damage on the ground. As a junior he was only able to play in two-and-a-half games for San Clemente due to a broken foot, but he still put up solid numbers, completing 63 percent of his passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions, while also rushing for 322 yards (9.2 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. Also a standout basketball player, he would appear to be a perfect fit in USC's new up-tempo offensive attack.

But the Trojans aren't alone in their pursuit of the SoCal passer. Like Waller, Darnold's stock has risen dramatically this offseason, and he currently holds over 10 offers, including one from Oregon that he received after one of their prime targets, Corona (Calif.) Santiago's Blake Barnett, recently committed to Alabama. Darnold was actually on an unofficial visit to the Ducks' campus when he got word of the USC offer. As a childhood Trojans fan who resides in a region of Southern California known for producing USC quarterbacks, it's safe to say that it has shaken things up for Darnold in a big way.

Also considering Utah and Northwestern among others, Darnold is expected to announce a decision at some point in the very near future, and if he ultimately chooses to commit to the Trojans, expect Sarkisian & Co. to shut down recruiting at the QB spot for the Class of 2015 for good. But if he opts to go elsewhere, it will be interesting to see what direction the staff goes next.
Here are five things we learned from the spring recruiting evaluation period for the USC Trojans:

1. The “outsiders” can recruit: As Steve Sarkisian and his new staff went through the bulk of the recruiting process for the Class of 2014, all of the coaches were either with Sarkisian previously at Washington or were part of the 2013 USC staff. The only two “outsiders” to join the staff late came from the NFL and the SEC in Tim Drevno and Chris Wilson. If there were any concerns about those two keeping pace with the other members of the staff when it comes to recruiting, they have quickly been put to rest with the early results for this class. Drevno went out and landed two of the top tackles on his wish list, a spot which was clearly a priority, and one of those verbals (Chuma Edoga) came with an assist from Wilson, a family friend of the player. Wilson also added two interior D-line verbals of his own during the spring period.

Not many defensive linemen would join a passing league squad and voluntarily spend their weekends running routes, matching up against linebackers in open space and perfecting the goal-line fade.

In an effort to get his name out more, three-star defensive tackle Noah Jefferson has done all of that this spring, and the extra work appears to paying off.

[+] EnlargeNoah Jefferson
Courtesy of Jefferson familyThree-star DT Noah Jefferson recently earned an offer from the Trojans.
The 6-foot-5, 271-pound lineman who doubles as a tight end for a Las Vegas-based 7-on-7 team last week landed a scholarship offer from USC, which he visited a few weeks ago for the spring game.

“The USC offer makes me a visual target and hopefully I’m not overlooked again,” Jefferson said. “This next school year I plan on doing big things and making a lot of people proud. I'm demanding the spotlight I deserve while still keeping my head straight. Hopefully this all adds up for my recruitment. I can't wait to start my college football career.”

Jefferson thought about giving the Trojans an early pledge, but he said he is in no rush to make a decision. His only other offer is from San Diego State, though schools such as Arizona State and Colorado, among others, are recruiting him heavily. The dynamic athlete intends to take an unofficial visit to UCLA in July.

“I was extremely excited and relieved at the same time when USC offered,” Jefferson said. “I spoke with coach Steve Sarkisian, and he told me I'm a really good athlete and that I should be a Trojan.

“This is very significant because it shows their interest in me. I feel honored to be offered by them. I plan on announcing my commitment in late September.”

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2015 USC recruiting preview: offense 

February, 12, 2014
With seven of the nine ESPN 300 prospects USC signed in the 2014 class being offensive players, the Trojans addressed some pressing needs on that side of the ball. Head coach Steve Sarkisian has already landed a major building block for 2015, and with 25 scholarships to hand out, he has some room to get creative in this recruiting cycle.

Here's a quick preview of what USC's offensive board could look like heading into spring:

Quarterback: 1

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Revisiting USC's 2014 resolutions 

February, 10, 2014
Shortly after the calendar flipped to 2014, we presented five possible New Year’s resolutions for USC recruiting and new head coach Steve Sarkisian.

Here they are again, with accompanying retrospective analysis that indicates how much the Trojans truly accomplished in the month leading up to national signing day:

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USC gets relief with Town commitment 

January, 25, 2014
For USC head coach Steve Sarkisian, this weekend was supposed to be about sealing the deal with some top targets who were officially visiting campus, but it quickly transformed into so much more.

Most of the focus centered on a group of highly touted prospects from the 2014 class, including John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), as the Trojans hosted a large group of recruits with less than two weeks remaining until national signing day. Yet, the buzz shifted toward the future as Sarkisian reached into the 2015 class to make perhaps his biggest splash since arriving from Washington, securing a verbal commitment from Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure), the No. 2-rated pocket passer who decommitted from Alabama earlier in the day.

Consider it a major coup for USC, which made Town its top priority at quarterback and managed to flip him in a short period of time.

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Trojans host top 2015 QB Town again 

January, 25, 2014

National signing day for the Class of 2014 is less than two weeks away, but the USC Trojans might have received some great news on Saturday in regards to next year's class.

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USC's recruiting resolutions for 2014 

December, 31, 2013
A new year usually brings new aspirations. But in the recruiting world, hanging up a new calendar signifies the final stretch. It’s the beginning of the end.

[+] EnlargeAdoree Jackson
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comNo. 7 overall Adoree Jackson would be a big get for USC's coaching staff.
With national signing day just six weeks away, we take a quick glance at potential New Year’s resolutions for USC recruiting:

1. Sign an elite prospect

USC fans want both Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) to become Trojans, but either one would do, really. Whereas the 2013 class had the likes of Su’a Cravens and Max Browne as headliners, the current group lacks similar star power. ESPN 300 members Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) are no slouches, but Jackson and Smith would certainly take the class to the next level. New head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff would like nothing more than to finish strong heading into spring practice and the ever-important 2015 recruiting cycle.

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USC, UCLA differ in recruiting strategy 

November, 29, 2013
When USC enters the Coliseum Saturday to take on crosstown rival UCLA, it will do so with some of the area’s top recruits looking intently from the stands, many of which hold scholarship offers from both schools.

Some had to wait longer than others for the option to attend college nearby. More often than not in recent years, UCLA has been quicker than USC in sending out offers to mutual targets. In fact, of the 12 in-state prospects from the 2015 class that the Trojans have already offered, only four-star offensive tackle Zach Robertson (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) added USC to his list of suitors before the Bruins joined the chase.

Yet USC’s recruiting efforts are not necessarily harmed by this seemingly cautious approach. UCLA beat USC in offering the likes of Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial), Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), but the Trojans added them to their recruiting class nonetheless.

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Window gets foggy for USC pledge Sills 

October, 8, 2013
There might not be a recruit that could be more affected by the firing of Lane Kiffin than USC quarterback commit David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy), whom Kiffin famously offered when he was only 13.

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Class of 2015 quarterback David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) gave a verbal commitment to USC head coach Lane Kiffin more than three years ago, but that didn’t prevent Kiffin and assistant coach Clay Helton from extending scholarship offers to local standouts Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) recently.

Rosen and Town -- rated No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, among pocket passers in the 2015 class -- warranted offers with solid performances at USC’s Rising Stars Camp, an event Sills also competed in. Thus, offers to both Rosen and Town would suggest the staff's evaluation is that they are on par with, or better than, the longtime commit.

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WeAreSC recruiting mailbag 

July, 26, 2013
WeAreSC recruiting reporter Blair Angulo answers reader questions in his mailbag every week. Have a USC recruiting question of your own? Submit it via Twitter to @WeAreSCstaff or @bangulo.

Kevin S., via @kevins6583: No Orange County recruits last year. Pipeline dry up?

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Summer recruit wrap: USC 

July, 23, 2013
USC has seven verbal commitments in its 2014 class as the recruiting cycle rolls into August. Here are 10 things we’ve learned from the camps and events on the summer recruiting circuit:

Serious competition for five-star prospect

USC might have been the early favorite to land five-star athlete Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), given the pipeline it has established with his high school, but that’s no longer the case as several national programs are vying for his signature. The dynamic playmaker recently took an unofficial visit to Tennessee and is set to check out a few other schools in the Midwest when he takes a trip to his native Illinois later this summer. He is also intrigued by Florida and LSU, and UCLA presents a local challenge for the Trojans as well. Jackson wants to play some receiver in college, similarly to how De’Anthony Thomas has been used at Oregon, so look for that to become a major factor moving forward.

Trojans still need a 2014 quarterback

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USC's recruitment of quarterbacks in the current recruiting cycle might be in disarray, but that hasn't prevented the Trojans from looking beyond this year's class.

In fact, not even a longtime verbal commitment from Class of 2015 quarterback David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) kept USC from extending scholarship offers to two local standouts on Thursday. First, No. 1-rated signal-caller Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) received the call from coaches Lane Kiffin and Clay Helton. Later in the day, ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) got the same.

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USC has held a verbal commitment from Class of 2015 quarterback David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) for more than three years, but that didn't prevent the Trojans from extending a scholarship offer to another signal-caller on Thursday.

Coach Lane Kiffin, who offered Sills as a seventh-grader, is now in the hunt for local standout Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), the No. 1-rated pocket passer in the ESPN Junior 300.

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