USC Trojans: Ricky Town

Steve Sarkisian added some intrigue to the future of USC's quarterback recruiting last week with a pair of offers to Class of 2016 prospects Shea Patterson and K.J. Costello.

 It may seem a little early to be jockeying for position with players who haven’t started their junior years of high school yet, but that’s not the case in the current world of quarterback recruiting. This process seems to move up every year.

Sarkisian had already extended one offer earlier in this spring to Malik Henry, the No. 2-ranked player in the ESPN Junior 300. Henry, a terrific athlete at 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, has received interest from schools such as UCLA, Texas, Tennessee, Notre Dame and Florida State.

The Opening Wednesday recap 

July, 9, 2014
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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- It was a full day of on-field work as the linemen put on pads and the skill players were divided into teams for the start of 7-on-7 pool play.

Here's a rundown of some of the USC recruits in action:

  • WR Christian Kirk: I would say Kirk was as good as any player I saw today who wasn't named Calvin Ridley. Kirk had multiple touchdowns during the day from the slot, including a pair down the middle where he simply split the defense and outran everybody to the end zone. The common speculation among the recruiting media is that this one is a USC-Texas A&M recruiting battle, and whoever lands Kirk is getting a good one.

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LAKE OSWEGO, Ore. -- Nineteen of the nation's top quarterbacks landed in northwest Oregon on Saturday afternoon, a day before the annual Elite 11 quarterback competition begins. While eyes will be focused on several storylines during the event -- including having the top six dual-threat quarterbacks in the country on hand -- attention on Saturday turned to the few uncommitted quarterbacks in attendance, including Sam Darnold, Torrance Gibson and Deondre Francois.


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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 recruiting shakeup at QB

June, 30, 2014
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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.

Tyler Petite nearing a decision? 

June, 26, 2014
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With the recruiting process drawing nearer and nearer to an end for Moraga (Calif.) Campolindo Class of 2015 standout Tyler Petite, the ESPN 300 tight end made it down to Los Angeles on Wednesday to get a closer look at USC, and to take part in Day 1 of the Rising Stars Camp, before heading back home on Thursday morning.

The camp provided Petite with the opportunity to work directly with a pair of potential future coaches at USC, as well as a possible future teammate, and it’s safe to say the experience left a positive impression.

“I went out in the afternoon and practiced just to kind of see how Coach [Marques] Tuiasosopo was coaching, and how Coach [Clay] Helton was coaching, and also to throw the ball around with Ricky [Town[ -- just to kind of get a feel for what could be,” said the 6-foot-6 Petite. “I had a lot of fun in that afternoon practice, caught some balls and made some big plays, and I think I basically just reassured the coaching staff why they want me.”

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USC Rising Stars Camp Day 1 recap 

June, 26, 2014
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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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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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video
The 2015 quarterback class in California not only has a chance to shape the recruiting rankings in February, but also has an opportunity to shift college football's national landscape for the next few years. While the Golden State has produced more than its share of quarterbacks over the years, not in recent memory has there been a group as deep and talented as the 2015 crop. The Pac-12 is looking to capitalize on the array of talent at the position, but programs from across the country are looking to pry a few of the signal-callers out of the area.

Here are the ESPN 300 quarterbacks from the state:

Josh Rosen -- No. 1 pocket passer -- 6-4, 200 -- committed to UCLA

Rosen was an early lean to Stanford and gave significant looks to Cal and Michigan before selecting the Bruins in late March. Rosen led his high school to an undefeated season and state championship as a junior, one year after breaking onto the national recruiting scene as a sophomore. As the top-ranked quarterback in the nation, Rosen's commitment to UCLA was huge for the Bruins as he has quickly become one of the top recruiters in this class.


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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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Recruits impressed with Coliseum vibe 

April, 21, 2014
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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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Recruits weigh USC-UCLA differences 

March, 27, 2014
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Same city, same conference, top-notch academics. Yes, USC and UCLA have similarities that oftentimes cancel each other out on the recruiting trail.

Both schools hold verbal commitments from coveted quarterbacks -- UCLA has No. 1-rated pocket passer Josh Rosen in tow, and USC has No. 2 Ricky Town. It would be safe to assume the rest of these schools' recruiting classes will likely be made up of the top prospects in the West region.

The choice might be easy for some, but other recruits considering the crosstown rivals must find differences between the two.


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USC QB commit Town keeps it cool 

March, 20, 2014
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VENTURA, Calif. -- As the son of the CEO of a development and building company, Ricky Town has moved around throughout his life. The future USC quarterback has never lived outside of California, but with his father, Rick Sr., building homes and moving the family in and out of those locations depending on their sale, Town has had to pack up quite a bit over the years.

Eighteen times, to be exact.

The most drastic change came a few years ago, when Town left Northern California for good, waving goodbye to most of his family and friends in Walnut Creek. The environment in Southern California was different and sports -- especially football -- were more intense.


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When the next big thing in Southern California recruiting isn’t standing behind center, he’s in the middle of the baseball diamond, staring down batters from the pitching mound.


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Meet USC QB commit Ricky Town 

March, 12, 2014
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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.

This is exactly the way things were supposed to play out for Ricky Town.

While his documented proof doesn't stretch as far back as the video of an eight-year-old Matt Barkley telling his family that he would one day become the USC quarterback, Town does have a photo of himself as a seventh-grader, arm in arm with Barkley on the USC practice field.

It was a moment in a long line of USC-related events that led Town from Northern California to the top-ranked prospect in the Trojans' 2015 class.


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