USC Trojans: Joe Mathis

Our look at position groups in the Pac-12 continues.

Arizona: Coach Rich Rodriguez is confident in both Reggie Gilbert and Dan Pettinato and anxious to get junior-college transfers Jeff Worthy, who also spent a year at Boise State, and Jerod Cody acclimated to the system. Calvin Allen, Jack Banda and Luca Bruno are coming off redshirt seasons and represent a group Rodriguez said the team needs production from.

Arizona State: With the departure of Gannon Conway and Davon Coleman, there is a question about the team's depth at end. Without Will Sutton clogging things up next year, the Sun Devils' lack of experience is even more of a concern. Sean O'Grady backed up Conway and Coleman last year, but ASU has several well-regarded junior-college transfers in Edmond Boateng, Marcus Hardison and Demetrius Cherry.

California: The Bears list seven defensive ends, but former junior-college transfer Kyle Kragen and Puka Lopa gained the most experience last season listed at the rush position. Antione Davis was outgoing starter Dan Camporeale's primary backup, but Brennan Scarlett's return is more important. He started nine games in 2012 and has been cleared to play following a hand issue that cost him the 2013 season. Todd Barr, Sione Sina and recent-transfer Jonathan Johnson are also in the mix.

Colorado: Colorado must replace Chidera Uzo-Diribe, but Juda Parker is back for his senior season, and several others have game experience. Samson Kafovalu is the likely candidate to start opposite him after making 18 tackles in seven games last year. Jimmie Gilbert was Uzo-Diribe's backup, Kirk Poston and De'Jon Wilson also played.

Oregon: The Ducks took a hit with the departure of Taylor Hart, who was named second-team All-Pac-12, but have a talented player in Arik Armstead lined up to take his spot. Armstead started five times in 2013 and left the basketball team midseason to shift his focus back to football. T.J. Daniel, Jason Sloan are projected to be in the mix for playing time.

Oregon State: Scott Crichton is gone, but Dylan Wynn remains and will likely be the Beavers' best defensive player a year after finishing fourth on the team in tackles. Lavonte Barnett, Crichton's primary backup in 2013, and Jaswha James figure to compete for the starting job, but there are two others to keep an eye on. Obum Gwacham recently switched from receiver and Mike Riley has been complimentary of Titus Failauga, who is coming off his redshirt.

Stanford: Henry Anderson has a chance to be one of the best defensive players in the conference and Blake Lueders, who switched from OLB, began the spring atop the depth chart. The intriguing prospect is Luke Kaumatule, who was recruited to play defense but began 2013 as the team's starting tight end. Spring will be important for his development, but his raw ability is impressive.

UCLA: Both Ellis McCarthy and Eddie Vanderdoes were all-Pac-12 honorable mention last season and highlight a talented UCLA defensive line. Their return will help account for the loss of Cassius Marsh, who started 12 games last year. Both McCarthy and Vanderdoes can play inside or outside, but the Bruins listed them both at end. Highly recruited DE Kylie Fitts saw playing time as a true freshman last season, and Keenan Graham and Brandon Willis will provide depth.

USC: Leonard Williams, the only sophomore named first-team all-Pac-12 on defense last season, is the best in the conference. Delvon Simmons, who sat out last season after transferring from Texas Tech, has a lot of game experience. He started 12 games for the Red Raiders in 2012 and had regular playing time as a freshman there in 2011. Both Simmons and J.R. Tavai, who was an all-Pac-12 honorable mention selection, can play inside or outside.

Utah: There's no replacing Trevor Reilly, who made 100 tackles despite lingering effects from a torn ACL, but Nate Orchard and Hunter Dimick both saw extensive playing time last season. The Utes have five other defensive ends on the roster, but of that group only LT Filiaga made a tackle last season.

Washington: The Huskies are in great shape with the return of Hau'oli Kikaha, a second-team All-Pac-12 selection, Cory Littleton and Evan Hudson. Josh Shirley has 10 career starts, while Joe Mathis and Psalm Wooching provide depth.

Washington State: With Toni Pole expected to move back inside, the depth chart will look similar to how it did going into last season, minus Matt Bock. After making 50 tackles last year, Xavier Cooper will start on one side, with Destiny Vaeao and Lyman Faoliu strong candidates for more playing time. Emmitt Su'a-Kalio is coming off a redshirt, and the Cougars also signed a pair of defensive ends from Hawaii in Kingston Fernandez and Hercules Mata'afa.

Previous positions

Tight end
Quarterback
Running back
Receiver
Offensive line
Defensive tackle

WeAreSC recruiting mailbag 

February, 22, 2013
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WeAreSC recruiting reporter Blair Angulo answers reader questions in his mailbag every Friday. Have a USC recruiting question of your own? Submit it via Twitter @WeAreSCstaff or @bangulo.

@kingrmo: With 20 scholarships available, how aggressive do you think SC will be on their junior day with offering players?
SAN ANTONIO -- Wednesday was a day off for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl teams. Instead of working out and participating in drills, the players took in visits around the city -- including a stop at the Alamodome for photo opportunities and to see their game apparel -- and used the day to recover from two days of practice.

The teams will return to the fields on Thursday in arguably the most important practice of the week. Here are five things to keep an eye on for Thursday’s practice:

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USC high school all-star game guide 

December, 27, 2012
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LOS ANGELES -- With all 16 verbal commitments selected to compete in the upcoming all-star games, the USC Trojans will have great representation under the national spotlight. There will also be particular interest in a handful of in-game announcements, namely that of recent official visitor Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood), a top safety target who intends to enroll early. Here’s a guide to all USC recruits in next week’s All-American games:

Under Armour All-American Game

When: Jan. 4, 2 p.m. PT

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ESPN 300 DE Joe Mathis setting visits 

October, 9, 2012
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Four-star defensive end Joe Mathis (Upland, Calif./Upland) is one of the more sought-after uncommitted defensive prospects in the West, and the 6-foot-4, 255-pound standout will give two schools a chance to make a big impression in the coming weekends.

[+] EnlargeJoe Mathis
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comJoe Mathis will take an official visit to USC this weekend for the Washington game.
Mathis originally committed to Washington during his junior season, but pulled back on his commitment shortly afterward. Now, with the Huskies still in pursuit, he plans to take an official visit this weekend when they host the USC Trojans. It will be the first official visit for Mathis.

"I want to see if I like it there and if it feels like family, if I can relate with the players and have a good time," Mathis said. "I want to see if it feels like I can stay there for four years."

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Key games featuring USC recruits 

October, 4, 2012
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Here are this week’s top high school football games featuring USC recruits:

Toa Lobendahn
Courtesy of Lobendahn Family2014 USC OL commit Toa Lobendahn of Lakewood (Calif.) faces a big test against Long Beach (Calif.) Poly this week.
Upland (Calif.) vs. Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) at Los Osos High School: USC cornerback commit Chris Hawkins might finally get tested this week. Upland (5-0) has three players with double-digit receptions, and quarterback Nate Romine has averaged more than 20 pass attempts per game. Rancho Cucamonga (4-1) has one of the region’s better defenses, making this an intriguing matchup. Upland, of course, is led by four-star defensive end Joe Mathis. The winner of this one gets the upper hand in the Baseline League standings.

Sherman Oaks (Calif.) Notre Dame at Mission Hills (Calif.) Alemany: An argument can be made for Steven Mitchell of Alemany (5-1) as the most productive of the USC commits midway through this season. The four-star prospect already has 11 touchdowns, despite sitting out a lot during blowouts. This meeting might demand a higher involvement. Notre Dame (4-2) has averaged nearly 40 points per game and features four-star running back Khalfani Muhammad.

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Five recruits who could still be in play 

August, 28, 2012
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Scholarship limitations didn't prevent USC from filling its recruiting class more than six months before national signing day, and it likely won't hinder its pursuit of elite talent.

The Trojans' class sits at 18 players -- eight of whom intend to enroll next spring -- with three counting toward the 2012 group. That would leave only 10 available spots when the first Wednesday of February rolls by, but a lot can happen between now and then.

Here are five top athletes who are still in contact with USC and could end up wearing the cardinal and gold.

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WeAreSC Roundtable 

July, 26, 2012
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Tahaan GoodmanGarry Paskwietz/WeAreSC.comWith his cousin and high school teammate, Chris Hawkins, already committed to USC, perhaps Tahaan Goodman will be convinced to take the Trojans' last scholarship in the 2013 class.
“If defensive end Jason Hatcher commits to USC tomorrow, the Trojans will only have one scholarship left for the class of 2013. List three players you would consider for that final spot and why.”

Garry Paskwietz

DL Torrodney Prevot (Houston/Taylor): It appears as if LSU is the leading school for Prevot right now but he could get a full court press from the SC coaches to gauge his interest in the Trojans.

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USC movement in ESPN rankings

July, 12, 2012
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The updated ESPN 150 and ESPN 300 rankings are out and here are the adjustments for USC recruits:

Kenny Bigelow: Stayed at No. 9

Su'a Cravens: Moved up to No. 12 from No. 14

Max Browne: Moved down to No. 18 from No. 12

Eddie Vanderdoes: Moved up to No. 35 from No. 57

Max Redfield: Stayed at No. 37

Laquon Treadwell: Stayed at No. 38

Leon McQuay III: Moved down to No. 40 from No. 39

Michael Hutchings: Moved up to No. 55 from No. 59

Jalen Ramsey: Moved up to No. 57 from No. 129

Priest Willis: Moved up to No. 59 from No. 61

Ty Isaac: Stayed at No. 70

Chris Hawkins: Moved down to No. 72 from No. 71

Kylie Fitts: Moved up to No. 86 from No. 87

Tahaan Goodman: Moved down to No. 96 from No. 95

Steven Mitchell: Moved up to No. 117 from No. 142

Sebastian LaRue: Stayed at No. 150

Eldridge Massington: Stayed at No. 165

Justin Davis: Moved down to No. 181 from No. 178

Taj Williams: Moved down to No. 214 from No. 208

Nico Falah: Moved up to No. 215 from No. 289

Joe Mathis: Moved down to No. 245 from No. 238

Tyree Robinson: Moved down to No. 269 from No. 263

Jason Hatcher: Moved down to No. 287 from No. 283

The Trojans moved to No. 2 overall in the updated ESPN class rankings.

WeAreSC Roundtable 

July, 12, 2012
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Jalen RamseyTom Hauck for ESPN.comBrentwood, Tenn., cornerback Jalen Ramsey is set to announce his college choice next Monday and might be the next commitment in USC's recruiting class.
Who will fill the remaining four scholarship spots in USC’s recruiting class?

Erik McKinney

S Max Redfield (Mission Viejo, Calif./Mission Viejo): Reminds some of Marqise Lee in his athletic ability in several sports and at several positions.

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WeAreSC Roundtable: Opening version 

July, 5, 2012
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Nico FalahTom Hauck for ESPN.comAs the top West Coast offensive lineman participating in The Opening, Nico Falah will get a chance to prove if his rise up the recruiting rankings is legitimate.
Which five USC recruits, committed or uncommitted, are you most looking forward to following at The Opening?

Garry Paskwietz
CB Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy): There is a lot of buzz right now about the possibility of Ramsey becoming a Trojan. He made two visits to the USC campus in the last month and also took part in the recent Rising Stars Camp. This event will offer a real opportunity to see how he performs on the same field as some of the top West Coast corners such as Chris Hawkins (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga).

OL Nico Falah (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco): This is a big step up for Falah, a newcomer to the game who has seen his stock rise this spring to the point where he is competing on this national stage. Look for him to show why he’s the only offensive lineman in the state to have an SC offer.

WR Eldridge Massington (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite): It’s going to be nice to see all three USC receiver commits in action at the same time. I’ve seen both Steven Mitchell (Mission Hills, Calif./Alemany) and Sebastian LaRue (Santa Monica, Calif./Santa Monica), so I’m looking forward to seeing Massington for the first time. There have been reports of his combination of speed and legit height and it will be good to judge him in person.

RB Ty Isaac (Joliet, Ill./Joliet Catholic): This should be a great glimpse into the future of the Trojan tailback spot. I’ve seen Justin Davis (Stockton, Calif./Lincoln) but this will be the first look at Isaac as well as a chance to see them together. Isaac impressed a lot of people at the Nike Camp with his ability to catch the ball and this event could give him a chance to show those skills again.

WR Laquon Treadwell (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee): The Trojans already have three receiver commits but there’s a reason the coaches continue to show interest in Treadwell. Other commits such as Isaac and Hawkins have praised him as well.

Erik McKinney
QB Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Skyline): The quarterbacks are going to be front and center during the two-day, 7-on-7 portion of The Opening, and that will be Browne’s chance to show how he compares to his fellow quarterbacks.

[+] EnlargeEldridge Massington
Tom Hauck for ESPN.comThe WeAreSC panel is looking forward to seeing how Texas native Eldridge Massington looks alongside his fellow Trojans wide receiver commits.
WR Eldridge Massington: There are several big wide receivers in California, but the Trojans went into Texas to grab Massington. It should be fascinating to see how his combination of size and speed stacks up against the in-state wide receivers.

CB Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, Fla./Wharton): Last year Tracy Howard was the No. 1 cornerback from Florida. The Trojans were chasing and after watching him for about 30 seconds at The Opening, it was easy to see why. This year, it’s Hargreaves the Trojans are chasing and the cornerback will have an opportunity to prove that he is the top cornerback in the country.

DE Joe Mathis (Upland, Calif./Upland): Mathis was terrific at the Los Angeles Nike Camp and has been working hard this off season to get into better shape. He slid in the most recent ESPN 300 release and will have an opportunity to prove himself with that quick first step against some of the top offensive tackles in the country.

OL Nico Falah: Because the linemen are able to wear pads and helmets at The Opening, it gives a more realistic look at them as players compared to the usual camp setting. There is no shortage of defensive line talent this year, and while Kyle Murphy and Joshua Garnett announced the West Coast presence with authority last season, it will likely be up to Falah to lead the way this year.

Greg Katz
OL Nico Falah: I am looking forward to seeing the type of performance Falah has against some of the top-flight defensive linemen in the country. Having seen this kid at the Nike combine at Cerritos JC in the spring, it seemed he got better and better each rep. Now we’ll see how far he has taken what he has learned, and there is extra intrigue since he is considered a Trojans lean.

WR Steven Mitchell: Much has made about the standout summer that Mitchell is having, so, like Falah, let’s see what he does against some of the best defensive backs in the nation. You could also throw in fellow Trojans verbal Sebastian LaRue to find out if both he and Mitchell are as explosive as advertised, especially in separation.

DL Eddie Vanderdoes (Auburn, Calif./Placer): We’ll find out more about the hyped Vanderdoes. Vanderdoes has gotten a great deal of national publicity, so if Falah is the best offensive lineman in California and Vanderdoes the best defensive lineman in the state, let’s get it on and find out who’s the real deal. This certainly will be one of the camp highlights, especially for those that follow Trojans recruiting.


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Ty Isaac, Justin DavisESPNChicago.com, Courtesy Stephen K. SinnockThe Opening will give Trojans fans a chance to look at their future backfield, as running back commits Ty Isaac (left) and Justin Davis (right) will join quarterback commit Max Browne.
There will be 150 of the top high school prospects in the nation in attendance this week at The Opening, with plenty of USC recruits on hand.

In fact, USC will have eight verbal commits taking part in the event which starts on Thursday at the Nike headquarters in Oregon, the most from any school.

The list starts with quarterback Max Browne (Sammamish, Wash./Sammamish) who will make the short trip for the event. Browne is currently the No. 2 pocket passer in the ESPN rankings and this event will be a terrific opportunity for him to compete on the same field with the No. 1 pocket passer on the list, Penn State commit Christian Hackenberg (Fort Union, Va./Fork Union Military Academy).

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USC Rising Stars Camp overview 

June, 28, 2012
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Here’s a position-by-position look at the top performers from the 2012 USC Rising Stars Camp:

Quarterback: Johnny Stanton (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita) led the way for the class of 2013 group as the leader of the state champion Eagles team took his shot at performing in front of the USC coaches. The Trojans already have one quarterback commit in this class but a guy like Stanton could either be a multi-position option or could also be a second QB for the class if the coaches decide to go that route after the recent departure of Jesse Scroggins.

The underclass group had several talented players. The best of the bunch was Kyle Allen from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Desert Mountain, a 2014 prospect who already holds offers from schools such as Oklahoma State, UCLA and in-state programs Arizona and Arizona State. Another 2014 recruit in attendance was Keller Chryst from Palo Alto (Calif.) Palo Alto. The class of 2015 was represented well by Brady White from Newhall (Calif.) Hart.

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USC Rising Stars Camp, Day 2 

June, 27, 2012
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Day 2 of the USC Rising Stars Camp is in the books, with another impressive group of talented players in action.

USC verbal commit Chris Hawkins (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga) led the way for the defense with a dominating performance from the cornerback position. Hawkins had three interceptions during the camp and only allowed two completions against him all day. Hawkins also said it was a good chance to be coached by USC defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders.

One of the surprises of the camp was the player who caught both passes against Hawkins, Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei tight end Thomas Duarte. The Monarchs have certainly sent their share of talent to USC through the years -- including stars Matt Barkley and Khaled Holmes -- and Duarte is an athletic player who could see time at either wide receiver or tight end.

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The 2012 B2G Elite Camp will kick off on June 29 and the roster of attendees makes it a must-see event for any recruiting fan.

Held at Cal Lutheran University, the camp features three days of training, meetings and film study for 85 top athletes. Camp attendees are also given a glimpse into the academic requirements at the next level.

B2G has produced plenty of big time defensive backs over the years, and that pedigree combined with how loaded the 2013 West region recruiting class is with safeties and cornerbacks makes it no surprise that the roster is stacked at those two positions.

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