USC Trojans: Austin Maloata

What might have been for USC 

February, 4, 2014
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.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

February, 3, 2014

The countdown is on, as the final weekend before signing day comes to a conclusion. Monday begins the dead period before signing day, so phones will likely be ringing off the hook between now and Wednesday -- phone contact is allowed during a dead period, in-person contact is not -- as Pac-12 coaches look to finalize the 2014 class.

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Key recruiting visits -- Pac-12 

January, 31, 2014
A number of big names will be on Pac-12 campuses this weekend for the final in-person push coaches can make before the dead period hits Monday. Listed below are 10 of the most important visits conference coaches have on their plates this weekend, as the finishing touches are put on some of the top classes in the country.

1. Wherever Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) goes, or doesn't go

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Notebook: ESPN 300 ATH Smith trims list 

January, 20, 2014
TUSTIN, Calif. -- A decision might still be two weeks away, but the picture is getting clearer for ESPN 300 athlete John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly).

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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

January, 20, 2014
The first big official weekend of crunch time for the 2014 recruiting class came and went, and if the past 48 hours are any indication of what's to come in the Pac-12, this will be a very interesting ride to signing day.

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Visit puts USC in the lead for Nelson 

January, 19, 2014
USC might have pushed back the visits of some of its premier recruiting targets, but the weekend could still be considered a productive one for head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff.

With the likes of John "Juju" Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) postponing their official visits, ESPN 300 athlete Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central) was the headliner in a group that made it to campus for the three-day trip. The coaching staff also brought in a pair of uncommitted prospects who could be viable options on national signing day.

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USC builds momentum during dead period 

January, 16, 2014
The month-long dead period was part fruitful and part complicated for USC recruiting, offering a prelude to what could be a wild finish for new head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff.

Four verbal commitments highlighted the period -- which ran from Dec. 16 to Jan. 15 -- but some members of the Trojans’ class were met with uncertainty as the coaches scrambled to find additional targets. A commitment from dual-threat quarterback Jalen Greene (Gardena, Calif./Serra) was the first domino to fall, as Sarkisian nabbed his top target at a position of need, and plenty of activity followed despite the prohibition of face-to-face contact.

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Notebook: USC could reshuffle class 

January, 13, 2014
The USC recruiting class continued to take shape last week with the commitment of three-star defensive back John Plattenburg (Houston/Lamar), reducing the number of available spots to two. Head coach Steve Sarkisian will be able to sign 19 in this class, with five of those expected to step into their first college course this week as mid-year enrollees.

Yet given limited vacancy and presence of other targets, it’s safe to assume some reshuffling is on the horizon.

New defensive line coach Bo Davis was added to the staff last week, and, while it quickly generated buzz with some Texas-based recruits, current USC commits faced more uncertainty. Three-star defensive tackle Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial), who trails only Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) as far as seniority in the class, said Sunday that he still considers himself a Trojan, but added he might reopen his recruitment.

ESPN 300 defensive end Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) has similar plans.

“My USC visit might be on Jan. 17 or Jan. 24, but I’m still waiting to hear back,” Dorton said. “The last time I talked to one of the USC coaches, it was around Christmas. I’m lining up some options and being more open-minded. It’s tough being committed to a school for a long time and being focused on going there, but this is a business and I have to look for the best fit.”

Dorton has scheduled an official visit to Washington for the Jan. 31 weekend and will take a trip to Arizona State sometime this month. Oklahoma, where he visited Oct. 25, remains a possibility.

“The Washington coaches are coming down for an in-home visit before I take my trip up there, and Oklahoma is still an option,” Dorton said. “I spoke to the defensive line coach, Jerry Montgomery, and he told me my offer is still there and they still want me.”

Consistent with this time of year, there were rumors that three-star outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne) was another casualty of Ed Orgeron’s departure. But Sarkisian wanted the 6-foot-2, 195-pound prospect when he was at Washington, so it would be surprising to see him end up anywhere other than USC.

“I called coach Tee Martin last week and he told me the rumors were just negative recruiting,” Nwosu said. “There might be some people who claim I will never play a down at USC, but Tee told me to make sure it’s not true. If I hear anything, he wants me to call him up. Coach Sark told me I’m not going to want to take any other visits after seeing USC, which I haven’t really been able to do aside from games at the Coliseum. I’m looking forward to my official visit this weekend.”

The Trojans could have competition, though. Washington coach Chris Petersen, who aggressively recruited Nwosu at Boise State, appears to be doing the same with the Huskies.

“Washington wants me to take my visit the last weekend in January,” Nwosu said. “It’s something I have set up, but I don’t know if I’m going to take it. I have a lot of things going on that weekend, so I’m still deciding.”

Nwosu is scheduled to play in the B2G West Coast Bowl later this month in an all-star game that will also feature Jonathan Lockett (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), Maloata and Plattenburg, among others. Maloata has been verbally committed to the Trojans since early May. Dorton pledged in August, a week before the start of the high school season.

WeAreSC recruiting roundup

  • The Trojans appear to have zeroed in on a top target and will at least get an opportunity to woo him this week. BYU linebacker commit Fred Warner (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills) scheduled an official visit to USC for this weekend, marking an important weekend for assistant coach Peter Sirmon. Warner, who is set to take his trip to BYU on Jan. 31, might also visit either Nebraska or Washington on Jan. 24.

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USC's recruiting resolutions for 2014 

December, 31, 2013
A new year usually brings new aspirations. But in the recruiting world, hanging up a new calendar signifies the final stretch. It’s the beginning of the end.

[+] EnlargeAdoree Jackson
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comNo. 7 overall Adoree Jackson would be a big get for USC's coaching staff.
With national signing day just six weeks away, we take a quick glance at potential New Year’s resolutions for USC recruiting:

1. Sign an elite prospect

USC fans want both Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) to become Trojans, but either one would do, really. Whereas the 2013 class had the likes of Su’a Cravens and Max Browne as headliners, the current group lacks similar star power. ESPN 300 members Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) are no slouches, but Jackson and Smith would certainly take the class to the next level. New head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff would like nothing more than to finish strong heading into spring practice and the ever-important 2015 recruiting cycle.

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Breaking down USC's '14 class by position 

December, 19, 2013
A recent string of commitments heading into the dead period has left USC with only five remaining slots in its 2014 recruiting class. The Trojans have 19 total spots to use, as long as four of them are mid-year enrollees.

Here's a position-by-position look at how USC could allocate those empty spots, with a projection of how many players at each position the Trojans will try to sign:

Offensive line: 6

The Trojans hold five commitments on the offensive line, two of those from mid-year enrollees who already have signed financial aid agreements. They might not be done, though, as a big fish is still out there and possibly leaning toward signing with his childhood favorite. If the coaching staff decides a scholarship would be more important at another position, the Trojans might have to part ways with a prospect from this bunch.

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Notebook: Talamaivao solid with USC 

December, 16, 2013
NORWALK, Calif. -- The tears in the eyes of ESPN 300 offensive guard Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) told the story.

A part of Talamaivao was sad because high school career had just come to an end Saturday night. Another part of Talamaivao was thrilled for close friend and possible college teammate Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), who will continue his journey to the state bowl game.

A 70-49 victory by St. John Bosco at Cerritos College left Talamaivao emotional, despite the U.S. Army All-American Bowl next month and a bright future at USC.

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USC recruits chase championships 

December, 5, 2013
While much of the attention will be on Saturday night’s massive matchup between Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco and Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei under the lights at Angel Stadium this weekend, the action on Friday night should also draw plenty of eyes.

USC commits Ajene Harris (Los Angeles/Crenshaw) and Uchenna Nwosu (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne) will face off in the CIF City Section championship at East Los Angeles College, while top targets Adoree' Jackson and Jordan Lasley will chase yet another ring for Gardena (Calif.) Serra against four-star quarterback Brad Kaaya and West Hills (Calif.) Chaminade. But perhaps the most intriguing matchup will take place deep in the Inland Empire, where USC commits Viane Talamaivao and Austin Maloata hope to lead Corona (Calif.) Centennial past rival Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta again.

But even if their season ends on a sour note, Maloata and Talamaivao have the assurance they’ll continue to suit up in the same colors.

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Notebook: USC will get shot at Wadood 

November, 25, 2013
USC entered the picture for ESPN 300 athlete Jaleel Wadood (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) fairly late, given that the four-star prospect had to wait a while longer for a scholarship offer than other top locals.

Yet, following their in-season resurgence, the Trojans appear to be in great shape for the two-way standout as the end of the 2014 recruiting cycle nears. Wadood, who had five receptions for 141 yards and three touchdowns Friday in a second-round victory against Las Flores (Calif.) Tesoro, said he intends to take his fifth and final official visit to USC on Jan. 24. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound athlete decommitted from Cal last week and officially visited UCLA over the weekend.

[+] EnlargeWadood
Erik McKinney/ESPNESPN 300 prospect Jaleel Wadood hopes his third commitment will be the charm, and it looks like it will come down to USC and UCLA.
Wadood also attended USC’s upset of Stanford at the Coliseum two weeks ago, and that experience played a role in his decision to reopen his recruitment.

“It showed they aren’t the pushover USC that everyone thought they were,” Wadood said. “They have turned the program around. There’s some great stuff going on at USC under coach Ed Orgeron.”

Washington is set to receive a visit from Wadood as well -- likely for the Jan. 17 weekend -- but this has shaped up as another local recruiting battle between USC and UCLA. Wadood is extremely close with his father, Haamid, and has all but scratched initial plans to leave the area for college. The Trojans might benefit from a lack of depth at defensive back. Whereas the Bruins seem to be loading up in the secondary with verbal commitments from ESPN 300 cornerback Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito), three-star prospects Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial), John Plattenburg (Houston/Lamar) and Ron Robinson (Corona, Calif./Santiago), USC has none and signed only one cornerback in 2013. A source close to the situation said the logjam could negatively affect UCLA’s chances with Wadood.

Though USC is recruiting Wadood as a cornerback, he said he has no preference for the next level. Other factors will be far more important.

“The feel and comfort with the coaching staff,” Wadood said. “How the academics are, whether it’s somewhere I can see myself. And playing time, too.”

Having previously committed to Arizona State and Cal, the dynamic playmaker hopes his next choice will be final.

“I’m trying to take my time,” Wadood said. “This will be the third time I commit, so I’m trying to make sure it’s the right one. I’ll consider every factor and make a decision sometime in mid-January, closer to signing day after I take all of my trips.”

WeAreSC recruiting roundup

  • USC defensive line commit Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial) took his first official visit to Washington State over the weekend, but returned home still a member of the Trojans’ recruiting class. With cousin and teammate Viane Talamaivao now committed to USC, it would be surprising if Maloata ended up anywhere else.
  • A massive out-of-state target came off the board Saturday when ESPN 300 defensive tackle Joshua Frazier (Springdale, Ark./Har-Ber) committed to Alabama. Frazier previously said he would likely take an official trip to Los Angeles, so if he ends up doing so, the Trojans will have some work to do to pull him away from the South. “Arkansas, I'm sorry but I've decided Alabama,” Frazier wrote on his Twitter account. “I hope u will still support me when I go rep Arkansas in Alabama. Nothing against the hog fans A&M fans Auburn fans and USC fans. I just feel I can get the best coaching and all the resources available to help me be successful at Alabama.”

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Shift in strategy could pay off for USC 

November, 7, 2013
Interim head coach Ed Orgeron wasted little time to reignite USC's recruiting when he stepped into his role earlier this season.

Orgeron sent out a flurry of offers that Lane Kiffin apparently was hesitant to extend during the final weeks of his tenure.

These weren’t five-star prospects the Trojans were suddenly offering, either. Many weren’t even four-stars.

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Notebook: Rosen notices excitement at USC 

November, 4, 2013
Josh RosenBlair Angulo/WeAreSCESPN Junior 300 quarterback Josh Rosen has noticed a renewed spark in the USC program since Ed Orgeron was named the interim coach, which has renewed his interest in the Trojans.
ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) found himself in unfamiliar territory Friday night during a victory against Santa Ana Mater Dei.

For the first time since he could remember, the top-rated signal-caller in the 2015 class was on the field during the fourth quarter.

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