USC Trojans: Equanimeous St. Brown

Five things for USC fans to watch for at The Opening:

[+] EnlargeRicky Town
Tom Hauck for Student SportsUSC commit Ricky Town is looking to erase any doubts that he belongs among the elite QBs in his class.
1. Quarterbacks: There will be a lot of eyes on both Ricky Town and Sam Darnold at this event, but for very different reasons. Town is the USC verbal, the one who Steve Sarkisian focused on right away when he got the job, but Town’s star has fallen a little bit in the recruiting world this spring. That may not mean anything in the long run but perception is important at an event like this and you know that Town would love nothing more than to come out and put on a performance that removes any doubt that he belongs among the elite quarterbacks in the country. Darnold recently received a USC offer after a spring that saw him go from unranked player (missed most of junior year due to injury) to one of the hottest names on the camp circuit. There would be no better way to justify the recent hype than a strong showing in this setting.

2. Outside linebackers: The big names on the USC wish list will be there, from John Houston Jr. to Osa Masina and Porter Gustin. All three have offers, although it's unclear which position Gustin will eventually play at the college level. Houston and Masina both seem tailor-made for the outside linebacker spot with tall, lean frames and long arms. It will be a great chance to see them in action together and, to top it off, Ben Humphreys will also be in attendance and he’s attracted a lot of attention from SC coaches so far, but no offer yet.
Considering how deep the Class of 2015 is on the West Coast, much of USC’s success on the recruiting trail this cycle could hinge on how head coach Steve Sarkisian fares in California.

With that in mind, here’s our monthly glance at 10 of the Trojans’ top in-state recruiting targets:

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When it comes to many of the elite recruits in California, it looks like it will be a waiting game in terms of hearing a final decision on their college selection.

With the draw of nationally televised signing day announcements, several of the top prospects appear to be in no hurry to make a final choice, instead preferring to line up a media partner and prepare for their moment in the spotlight.

Truth be told, you can’t blame any recruit who wants to enjoy the process and go up until the day when they can actually put pen to paper and sign a letter of intent. After all, this is their college choice we’re talking about here, and they have every right to handle things how they want, no matter how much it may test of the patience of fans wanting to know if the recruit will be on their favorite team’s roster next fall.

It wasn’t too long ago when the spring evaluation period (which just ended last week) was considered the first opportunity for college coaches to really begin their process of identifying and selecting which recruits they wanted. Sure, there was the occasional blue-chip player who warranted an early offer in -- gasp -- his junior year, but for the majority of players there was still a long way to go before any mutual decisions were made between recruit and school.

In 2014, however, that is no longer the case. It is early June and all 10 teams ranked in the top 10 of the ESPN RecruitingNation class rankings have double-digit verbal commitments. The USC Trojans sit just outside the top 10 at No. 11 and have eight commits.

This isn’t a subtle trend that’s developed lately -- it’s a bona fide game of musical chairs, and many recruits are grabbing their spots earlier and earlier so as not to be left out when the music stops and there are no more scholarships left. No position exemplifies this more than quarterback, where the top four signal-callers in California have already made their college choices.

What makes it interesting is that none of the other top 10 players in the state are expected to make a choice any time soon. Guys like Rasheem Green, Keisean Lucier-South, Iman Marshall, Equanimeous St. Brown, John Houston Jr., Marvell Tell and Kahlil McKenzie are all taking their time with narrowing down the schools on their wish list and preparing for campus visits and official trips in the fall.

There’s no question that being an elite player makes it easier to take your time while knowing that a school is likely going to hold your spot. And as far as the Trojans are concerned, waiting is a little easier when you have 25 spots as opposed to the last three years when being limited to 15 rides meant more of a balancing act than the coaches were used to at times. Things will get tight as signing day approaches and available spots begin to dwindle, and that is always part of the drama that comes with the world of college football recruiting.

So if you’re a USC fan waiting impatiently for word from any of the elite position players in the state, you may want to sit back and relax because it might be a while. But it sure could make for an exciting signing day.
SANTA FE SPRINGS, Calif. -- As USC football players worked their way around the frenzy and posed with fans for photographs following the spring game last month at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, highly coveted cornerback Iman Marshall walked onto the field alongside other recruits.

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Considering how deep the Class of 2015 is on the West Coast, much of USC’s success on the recruiting trail this cycle could hinge on how head coach Steve Sarkisian fares in California.

With that in mind, here’s a glance at 10 of the Trojans’ top in-state recruiting targets:

DT Rasheem Green
6-foot-5, 289 pounds
Position rank: No. 4
ESPN 300 rank: No. 17
The latest: Green made unofficial visits to Stanford and Oregon recently and raved about those trips. He missed the USC spring game because of a track and field meet, but drew a visit from assistant coach Tee Martin earlier this week at talent-rich Gardena (Calif.) Serra.

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Recruits impressed with Coliseum vibe 

April, 21, 2014
More than 150 recruits were on hand at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday for the USC spring game, an indication that the Trojans and their new coaching staff are again drawing plenty of interested eyes.

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USC recruiting target tracker 

March, 25, 2014
Considering how deep the Class of 2015 is on the West Coast, much of USC’s success on the recruiting trail this cycle could hinge on how head coach Steve Sarkisian fares in California.

With that in mind, here’s a glance at 10 of the Trojans’ top in-state recruiting targets:

FS Marvell Tell
6-foot-1, 175 pounds
Position rank: No. 3 | ESPN Junior 300 rank: No. 33
The latest: Tell landed some major offers recently, with Oklahoma being a notable one, and raised some eyebrows by taking a trip to Washington State earlier this month. The free safety said he is open to leaving the area for college, but USC and UCLA could be tough to overcome. He wants to commit on national signing day at the local park where his journey began.

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Highlights from the L.A. NFTC 

March, 10, 2014
REDONDO BEACH, Calif. -- A new season of the Nike Football Training Camp circuit got kicked off this past weekend in Los Angeles with a strong showing. It was a large turnout and had some good prospects, including several in the ESPN Junior 300. It is a strong year for quarterbacks out West, and that was on display at Redondo Union High School. The wide receivers and linemen also featured a good deal of talent. Here are the Recruiting Nation NFTC Awards, highlighting the top performers.

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USC prospects shine at L.A. NFTC 

March, 9, 2014
REDONDO BEACH, Calif. -- Thoughts on USC prospects at the Los Angeles Nike Football Training Camp held Sunday at Redondo Union High School:

Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) came out and was one of the elite players in a very good group of quarterbacks. His delivery is so smooth and he had the added advantage of throwing the majority of reps to one of his favorite receivers, teammate, Lavan Alston (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure). When the QBs gathered for early drills, Town quickly took the first spot in line, something that any coach will appreciate to see from the QB position. The Trojans got a good one.

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USC targets expected at L.A. NFTC 

March, 6, 2014
Preliminary recruiting rankings have been out for months but some of the re-shuffling and separation could begin this upcoming weekend, when many of Southern California’s top prospects descend on Redondo (Calif.) Union High School.

The Nike Football Training Camp tour will make its annual stop in the Los Angeles area on Sunday, and a bevy of USC targets are expected to be among the participants, including quarterback commit Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure). The No. 2-rated pocket passer in the 2015 class will compete against a strong field that also features No. 1-rated passer Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and Notre Dame commit Blake Barnett (Corona, Calif./Santiago).

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Roundtable: Players to watch this month

March, 5, 2014
Next week offers a look at the future, the present and the past of USC football. Give one player you are looking forward to seeing at the Los Angeles Nike Camp, one player who will be the talk of the opening week of spring ball, and one player who can improve his NFL stock the most on Pro Day.

Nike Camp

Garry Paskwietz:
When Steve Sarkisian was an assistant coach at USC he saw the Trojans utilize tall and athletic wide receivers such as Mike Williams and Dwayne Jarrett with a lot of success. Equanimeous St. Brown from Anaheim (Calif.) Servite has a 6-foot-4, 190-pound frame that would seem to offer a similar package of skills, and the Trojans have been very clear in pointing out that fact during the recruiting process. It will be interesting to see how St. Brown compares to the other receivers at the Nike camp, and if he has any connections with USC quarterback commit Ricky Town.

[+] EnlargeRicky Town
Tom Hauck/ESPNTrojans QB commit Ricky Town will get a chance to recruit players at the Los Angeles NFTC this weekend.
Johnny Curren: Defensive tackles such as Rasheem Green from Gardena (Calif.) Serra simply don’t come around very often right in USC’s backyard, and I think that he’s as crucial a target that there is in this class for the Trojans, particular with the possible departure of Leonard Williams following the 2014 season. The linemen one-on-ones are always the highlight of every NFTC, and with a rare combination of 6-foot-5, 269-pound size and exceptional athleticism, I’m really curious to see how Green matches up against the top offensive linemen that Southern California has to offer. From what I’ve seen from him in the past, he has the ability to really dominate at this event.

Greg Katz: For me, it will be quarterback commit Ricky Town, especially if he competes against Josh Rosen. While that could be interesting if both decide to toss it around, the real story will be Town interacting with Trojans recruits who could someday be his teammates. Yes, it’s all about recruiting of players by players, and Town has good reason to be active on Sunday at Redondo Beach (Calif.) Union High. It could be fascinating.

Opening week of spring

It was a relatively quiet transition year for Kenny Bigelow as a redshirt. After coming in as a top-ranked recruit who many thought would make an immediate impact, Bigelow had time to sit back and watch while learning the college game and spending time in the weight room. That year off should start paying immediate dividends next week when a hungry Bigelow gets a chance to remind everyone why he was such an elite prospect.

JC: Collecting 52 tackles, Su'a Cravens played more like a veteran in 2013 than a freshman, and I expect even bigger things from him in the future starting this spring. Possessing unique playmaking ability to go along with his remarkable physical attributes, I’m particularly interested to see how defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox utilizes his talents in his new scheme. Will Cravens line up at a traditional safety position? Or might Wilcox put him at a possible linebacker/safety hybrid spot, similar to where he showcased Shaq Thompson at Washington? In either case, Cravens has the potential to emerge as a leader of the defense this spring.

GK: The talk of spring ball in the opening week will be -- to the surprise of nobody -- All-American defensive tackle Leonard Williams. With two seasons under his belt, Williams is being touted by some as one of the all-time greats at USC. It figures that even in restricted drills and learning a new system, Williams will look even more destructive in the first week and more noticeably sculptured.

Pro Day

Marcus Martin was limited at the combine, which didn’t hurt him but it certainly didn’t help him either. Martin has a real opportunity to secure his spot as the top center in the draft and a probable mid-round selection with a solid performance at pro day. He got a boost to his profile recently when Mel Kiper ranked him as the top available center but, as Pete Carroll used to always remind everyone, the NFL simply doesn’t know as much about an early entry player, so Martin can go out and remind them why he deserves that ranking.

JC: Snubbed from the NFL Scouting Combine, Morgan Breslin will receive his first shot to make an impression for scouts at USC’s Pro Day, and I think that he’ll make the most of it. With his senior campaign marred by injury, people forget that he had 13 sacks in 2012. Now apparently healthy, Breslin possesses a tremendous burst off the line, a non-stop motor, and a fierce work ethic that would seemingly make him a welcome addition to any NFL roster. Currently somewhat of a hidden commodity, I think that come March 12 more than a few NFL teams will fall in love with what he can bring to the table.

GK: If he performs, one would think it would have to be Morgan Breslin, who shockingly wasn’t invited to the NFL draft combine. Breslin will apparently have a lot to prove, and a good showing on Pro Day could return him back into the good graces of NFL teams. This is a big day for No. 91.
LOS ANGELES -- A handful of big recruiting targets competed at the third annual 4th Quarter Sports 7v7 Shootout at Salesian High School on Sunday, but none were taller than ESPN 300 receiver Equanimeous St. Brown (Anaheim, Calif./Servite).

The 6-foot-4, 200-pound prospect has emerged as one of the top pass catchers on the West Coast, with length being one of his most appealing attributes. USC has signed smaller receivers in recent classes, but appears to be on a mission to add size in 2015.

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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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USC gets head start on 2015 class 

February, 3, 2014
While the last weekend before national signing day usually serves as a final chance to lock up senior recruits, USC used it to get a headstart on the 2015 class by hosting a bevy of top-flight prospects on campus Saturday.

The Elite Junior Day event proved productive for coach Steve Sarkisian, who extended scholarship offers to eight visitors, including local cornerback Taeon Mason (Pasadena, Calif./Muir), who verbally committed on the spot.

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Notebook: USC offer excites Warner 

June, 11, 2013
A break in the action during last weekend’s Dana Hills Air Strike passing tournament allowed Fred Warner (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills) to lie down on the artificial turf, fold his arms behind his head and stare into the sky.

It was a brief moment of introspection for the fast-rising linebacker who suddenly has plenty to think about.

Fred Warner
Blair Angulo/ESPNBYU commit Fred Warner was thrilled to pick up a USC offer.
Warner, a BYU commit since April, added a USC scholarship offer last week after impressing the coaching staff during the spring evaluation period.

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