USC Trojans: Rasheem Green

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Nearly 90 recruits -- including 10 ESPN 300 prospects -- made commitments to the Pac-12 since the start of June, as the conference recruiting race heated up alongside the weather this summer. Not surpisingly, even with the boon over the past two and a half months, the Pac-12 still lags behind other conferences when it comes to sheer commitment numbers. Many Pac-12 programs have become content to wait until the season, or after the season, to put an emphasis on official visits and commitments. At this point, 35 programs hold commitments from 16 or more recruits, and only one of those -- Arizona -- resides in the Pac-12.

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.

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USC Rising Stars Camp Day 1 recap 

June, 26, 2014
Jun 26
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LOS ANGELES -- A loaded field of prospects converged on the USC campus on Wednesday for the first day of the Rising Stars Camp -- a fact that had to please first-year Trojans head coach Steve Sarkisian and staff.


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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 our monthly glance at 10 of the Trojans’ top in-state recruiting targets:


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USC has started voluntary summer throwing sessions, and it's a great time to see where players are at in terms of physical shape and also to gauge the work ethic of the players when no coaches are around.

One of the things that has jumped out so far is just how organized the sessions are. Steve Sarkisian spent an entire practice during the last week of spring ball showing his players how to run a summer workout, the point being that he wanted to provide as much structure as possible so that the players could maximize those workouts.

The result has been sessions that feature a walk-through, a group stretch, various drill areas such as medicine balls and tall bags, a 7-on-7 period and a series of sprints at the end. As would be expected, the leaders of the sessions are players such as Cody Kessler, Hayes Pullard and Nelson Agholor. The veterans are also doing a lot of teaching to younger players, specifically the incoming freshmen who are taking part in USC workouts for the first time.

Leonard Williams and Josh Shaw are taking part in the workouts after sitting out spring ball as a precaution for lingering injuries. Another player back in action is Steven Mitchell, the shifty wide receiver who suffered a knee injury last year in the summer drills. It’s been clear in limited action that Mitchell is well on his way to a good recovery. He is looking very fluid.

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Erik McKinney/ESPN.comUSC signee Viane Talamaivao is working at center in summer workouts.
It will be interesting to watch the situation with Viane Talamaivao, who is getting a look at center. Talamaivao has never played the position before but there was a lot of speculation in the recruiting process that he could ultimately end up at center. He certainly has the athleticism to make the move, but it remains to be seen how he will adjust to snapping the ball, the various reads, etc.

Speaking of Talamaivao, his family is involved with the Prime Time Polynesian Kumite lineman camp, one of which will be held this weekend in Corona, California. Several of top linemen from the area are expected to be in attendance, including Rasheem Green, Keisean Lucier-South and Joseph Wicker.

Another attendee will be Sarkisian, who is scheduled to be one of many college coaches at the camp. The ability of coaches to take part in camps away from their campus has been in the news a lot lately, particularly with coaches from the SEC objecting to coaches from other schools holding camps in their area. It’s something that likely will be addressed in future NCAA rules, but for now it’s something that is perfectly legal and it will give Sarkisian a chance to watch some of the top USC prospects in action.
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.
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.


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HAYWARD, Calif. -- After one Elite 11 coach referred to Friday’s Northern California event as the most talented regional of the past four years, participants in Sunday's Nike Football Training Camp at Chabot College faced plenty of pressure to keep the region’s momentum rolling.

While it would prove impossible to live up to Friday’s showing -- or even last year’s remarkable output of nine invitations to The Opening -- this year’s edition of the Northern California NFTC did result in six Opening invitations, as well as a dominant performance from several ESPN 300 defensive tackles, an ESPN 300 wide receiver who found a connection with a future Notre Dame quarterback, and a tight end who could help shape the Pac-12 recruiting race -- all during an event that had a decidedly island vibe.


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As the Trojans continue with the spring evaluation process, here's a look at five recruiting storylines to follow:


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WeAreSC roundtable: Spring recruiting look 

May, 2, 2014
May 2
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Name three recruits that you would put at the top of the USC priority list.

Garry Paskwietz


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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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Tale of the tape: UCLA vs. USC 

April, 22, 2014
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There have been some significant pendulum swings in the rivalry between UCLA and USC since 1991.

That was the year in which the Bruins embarked on an eight-game winning streak against USC, which was countered by the Trojans winning 12 of the next 13 meetings -- though two were later vacated because of NCAA sanctions. Now, UCLA and head coach Jim Mora are riding high after two wins in a row in the rivalry, and things have gotten very interesting on the recruiting trail.


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ESPN 300: Top Pac-12 targets 

April, 16, 2014
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This recruiting cycle represents a huge year for talent in California, which means the Pac-12 should be able to put together some very healthy recruiting classes. In looking at the top five targets for the conference in the 2015 ESPN 300, it's no surprise that three come from Southern California. But if the Pac-12 wants to have a better overall finish in the recruiting rankings next year -- USC at No. 14 overall was the highest finish in 2014 -- the conference will need to reel in several out-of-area standouts, which is why the first two names on the list are here.


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Recruiting notes: USC hosts linemen 

April, 15, 2014
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Some of the recruiting relationships the current USC coaching staff developed while at Washington proved beneficial following the move to Los Angeles. The Trojans signed Rahshead Johnson, Claudeson Pelon, Jonathan Lockett, John Plattenburg and Don Hill in 2014, all of whom had prior connections to the Huskies.

The rewards might continue with the Class of 2015.


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REDONDO BEACH, Calif. -- At first, John Houston Jr. got a good laugh out of the fake Twitter account using his name.

The ESPN 300 linebacker was flattered, in a sense, knowing someone out there thought highly enough of him to pretend to be him. An impersonation meant all of his work on the field had earned him enough recognition.

Then, when the fake account suddenly announced a March 24 commitment to USC, Houston had a problem.


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