USC Trojans: Marquis Ware

What might have been for USC 

February, 4, 2014
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USC’s upcoming recruiting haul will be the final group restricted by the NCAA penalties handed down in 2010. Limited to signing 15 athletes per class beginning in 2012 while also being forced to maintain a roster of no more than 75 scholarship players, the Trojans were docked a total of 30 total scholarships through next season.

The effects of the penalties have been felt even more than most imagined as, when coupled with injuries, the Trojans have had to deal with major depth issues. Not only that, but many of the quality players USC would have landed under normal circumstances now line up for Trojans opponents, making the team’s job on the field that much more challenging.

With that in mind, here are 10 recruits from each of the past three recruiting classes who could have been at USC.

Pac-12 recruiting storylines: Dec. 19 

December, 19, 2013
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The dead period runs through Jan. 15, and some recruits have said they will use that to take a break from recruiting, but that doesn't mean it will shut down for everyone. Coaches are still able to contact recruits during the dead period -- just no in-person contact -- and a number of recruits will be making commitments during this time. Over the next few weeks and through the holidays, Pac-12 recruiting fans will have a number of things to keep an eye on, including these five topics.

Who sets January visits?

With the dead period wiping out an entire weekend normally dedicated to official visits, recruits will have just three January weekends available to take visits -- the 17th, 24th and 31st -- if they'd like to commit and sign on signing day. Every Pac-12 program is looking to load up on official visits during those weekends. Stanford and USC look as though they will be very busy on Jan. 17, and Oregon is always able to grab a few late official visitors -- ESPN JC 50 WR Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College) is scheduled for Jan. 31. There are plenty of Pac-12 targets saying they will likely set up January officials to various schools.


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Notebook: Mama will analyze USC 

December, 9, 2013
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ESPN 300 offensive guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) was a spectator to start the weekend, but he capped it with a championship trophy between his hands.

Mama accompanied good friends and fellow USC targets John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Kammy Delp (Pomona, Calif./Diamond Ranch) to the Inland Empire on Friday night, as the tight-knit group watched Trojans commits Viane Talamaivao and Austin Maloata of Corona (Calif.) Centennial capture yet another CIF Southern Section Inland Division title. On Saturday, it was Mama’s turn to hold the hardware with his friends watching from the stands at Angel Stadium.

As a result, Mama will have a little less time to focus on his recruitment as a 12-day dead period approaches. That might not be bad news for the Trojans.


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Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

October, 9, 2013
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Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings. For an in-depth look at the Big Ten, check out our conference rankings:

1. Arizona, 24 commits: The Wildcats check in at No. 23 in the RecruitingNation class rankings with a class that includes four ESPN300 commitments, including No. 120 overall Marquis Ware and No. 185 Jamardre Cobb of Salesian High in Los Angeles. Arizona will take its shot with No. 17 overall Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy), and teammate Dae'Juan Funderburk (Washington, D.C./Friendship Collegiate Academy) in December.


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Pac-12 2014 recruiting scenarios 

October, 8, 2013
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This week's list offers a look through the Pac-12 at the potential best-case and worst-case scenarios that the 2014 recruiting cycle could bring for various programs. While a few of the best-case scenarios might be close to within reach for some programs, many of the worst-case scenarios would take a special brand of bad luck.

Arizona
Best-case scenario: Arizona doesn't hold onto all of its 24 verbal commits, but keeps all of its priority recruits in the fold. In exchange for some of the decommitments, the Wildcats are rewarded with a big splash from either ESPN 300 prospect John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) or Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure). A strong finish to the season also helps Arizona clean up in its home state, landing commitments from offensive linemen Natrell Curtis (Phoenix/Mountain Pointe), Andrew Mike (Tucson, Ariz./Sabino), Layth Friekh (Peoria, Ariz./Centennial) and junior college defensive lineman Claudeson Pelon (Mesa, Ariz./Mesa College).

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WeAreSC recruiting mailbag 

October, 4, 2013
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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 @WeAreSCstaff or @bangulo.

@godsoldier2k3: Hey, guys. How are we looking at picking up defensive backs that cover. Seems that other than defensive tackles, we need some long, athletic corners.


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It is a whole new ball game with recruits out West now that Lane Kiffin is out at USC.

The Trojans’ Class of 2014 recruiting efforts mirrored the product on the field. There were a few bright spots like highly regarded ESPN 300 defensive end Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), ESPN 300 linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) and ESPN 300 offensive lineman Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), but it was also a class full of incompletions, fumbles and big misses.

[+] EnlargeTalamaivao
Erik McKinney/ESPN.comThe Trojans hope a new coaching staff will sway recruits like Viane Talamaivao (committed to Alabama) to USC.
The Trojans, in one of the deepest hotbeds of talent in the entire country and with one of the proudest football traditions around, were able to lure only seven commitments and watched conference rivals Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, UCLA and Washington blow past them on the recruiting trail. Recruits and high school coaches throughout the Southland also raised major concerns about the way Kiffin interacted with -- or some say flat-out ignored -- many top local prospects and coaches when they would come for unofficial visits or wanted to talk shop.

You have to win the recruiting wars in Los Angeles if you’re going to dominate at USC. It’s something that Pete Carroll figured out the second he stepped into Heritage Hall, but Kiffin was never able to fully embrace.

However, the Trojans now have a chance to reset things.

If USC makes the right hire, there’s still a real chance to lure a number of the West’s best prospects. Twenty-seven of the Top 100 and eight of the top 15 prospects in California have yet to make up their minds.

Plus, there will be kids who are committed to other schools that will take a long look at the Trojans again with a new coach in charge. You can bet that players like ESPN 300 offensive lineman and Alabama commit Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial), ESPN 300 athlete and Arizona commit Marquis Ware (Los Angeles/Salesian), Elite 11 quarterback and Miami commit Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade) and many other committed players in California will get calls from the new USC staff.

In recruiting, nothing can erase the errors of the old and give a school some new momentum like a coaching change.

USC now has the chance to right its recruiting wrongs. Coupled with the fact recruits and high school coaches still consider the Trojans Los Angeles’ football team, USC’s run to signing day in February could alter the Pac-12 for years to come.

Class of 2014 candidates for USC offers 

September, 12, 2013
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The USC recruiting class fell out of the ESPN top-40 rankings last week with the decommitment of four-star defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central).

While verbal commitments from offensive linemen Jordan Austin (Claremont, Calif./Claremont), Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) and Jordan Poland (La Jolla, Calif./Country Day School) are as solid as they come, the Trojans will likely have to be successful on the field for the rest of this season to regain some recruiting momentum.


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Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

August, 28, 2013
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The same four Pac-12 teams -- Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford and USC -- are represented in this week’s recruiting class rankings, and two of those programs made the biggest jump, as it was more of the same from the two programs in the state of Arizona. Also, as the opening weekend of college football is finally here, keep an eye on several programs hosting home openers, as visitor lists begin taking shape.

Trending up: The Arizona schools

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Pac-12 recruiting storylines: Aug. 22 

August, 22, 2013
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The Pac-12 saw an ESPN 300 running back alter an official visit and could be adding an ESPN 300 defensive end on Friday. Also, several recruiting battles could be on tap once official visits get underway, and Oregon State has its sights set on hopefully landing a two-towers addition at receiver.


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The List: Must-have Pac-12 recruits 

August, 13, 2013
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The definition of a “must-have” recruit is not created equal for all Pac-12 programs. For some, it’s a player who would help the class the most. For others, it’s the local recruit who simply can’t get away. And for others still, it’s the recruit who would give the program the biggest splash in the recruiting world. With a number of West region recruits still undecided, there are “must-have” recruits out there for every Pac-12 program.

Arizona
ATH Marquis Ware
6-foot-2, 210 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 120
Arizona is off to a terrific start with the 2014 recruiting class and the Wildcats already have commitments from two ESPN 300 prospects. But perhaps more importantly, they also have sincere interest from Ware, who is capable of playing outside linebacker or tight end at the next level. Not only would reeling in Ware give Arizona some serious bragging rights in the recruiting hotbed of Los Angeles, but the big athlete is teammates with linebacker Jamardre Cobb, who could join Ware in college.


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Tales From the Road: USC 

June, 5, 2013
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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: A bevy of recruits will be on the USC campus this weekend for the school’s linemen and skill position camps. And though the Rising Stars Camp is the headliner this month, this weekend’s events generally draw some good talent as well. Anaheim (Calif.) Magnolia safety Jamal Scott, who has seen his stock skyrocket the last week, said he hoped to take an unofficial visit to USC soon, perhaps this week.


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Previewing the Oakland NFTC 

May, 16, 2013
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A number of USC recruiting targets are expected to put their skills on display this weekend when the Nike Football Training Camp tour hits the Bay Area.


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LOS ANGELES -- Injuries continue to be one of the big stories for the Trojans this spring as it was confirmed after practice that both George Farmer and Su’a Cravens will undergo knee surgeries.

The news was more dire for Farmer after Kiffin confirmed the earlier media reports of a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee, which will force him to miss the 2013 season. For Cravens, he has a torn meniscus in his right knee and will undergo surgery Friday. The injury is the same as the one suffered by Silas Redd. Cravens is expected to miss 4-6 weeks and will be back in plenty of time for fall camp.

Su'a Cravens
Garry Paskwietz/WeAreSC.comSu'a Cravens is the latest USC player to get dinged in spring practice.
“Whenever there is an injury you hope, like Su’a, that’s it’s not going to be a long setback,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “With guys like George, those are the ones you feel really bad for. A guy who battles back and was playing well and then to have this setback.”

The Trojans entered the Thursday practice session with 20 players out of action because of injury and two more left practice – Torin Harris and Cyrus Hobbi.

“I don’t see any way we could practice like this in the fall. We wouldn’t be able to play a game,” Kiffin said. “Of the 22 guys who ended up being out today, 18 of them are scholarship players. With the roster reductions we already have we would not be able to give up that many players. We will start fall camp practicing this way, but I don’t think we will end fall camp this way.”

There was some good news on the injury front as Marqise Lee returned, albeit in a limited role, after missing two-and-a-half weeks with a knee injury. Lee seemed to be running fine with no major issues but he was held out of contact team drills. Kevon Seymour and Jordan Simmons also returned to action.

“Marqise was back, which was obviously good to see,” Kiffin said. “He basically took part in the first hour of practice and we’ll add to him as we go.”

George Uko was out today and J.R. Tavai took his spot with the first unit at defensive end. During the final team drill, Aundrey Walker was out and Max Tuerk had moved to center with Hobbi out, so the first unit left side of the line was walk-on Nathan Guertler at tackle and Giovanni Di Poalo at guard.

Receiver shuffle

With Farmer out, that means opportunities for players such as Victor Blackwell and De’Von Flournoy along with first-year players Darreus Rogers and Steven Mitchell. Kiffin also made sure to note the high level of play from Nelson Agholor this spring when discussing the receiver group.

(Read full post)

How USC can use 20 scholarships in 2014 

February, 12, 2013
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USC will have an extra five scholarships to use on the next recruiting class after signing only 12 on Feb. 6. Here’s a look at how the Trojans could spend their 20 scholarships in 2014.


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