USC Trojans: USC recruiting

WeAreSC signing day blog

February, 6, 2013
5:15 p.m. -- Former USC commit Eddie Vanderdoes signed with Notre Dame.

4:11 p.m. -- USC sent out a press release announcing its recruiting class. "We could only sign a limited number of players because of our sanctions, so we went after the best of the best," coach Lane Kiffin said in a statement.

Kiffin will hold a press conference on campus at 5 p.m. PT. It will be streamed live official athletic website,

4:00 p.m. -- "In the summertime I committed to USC, and there's a reason why I committed," said Nico Falah, who announced for the Trojans. "It was back and forth and hard to decide, but I went with the greater picture."

Falah also said that UCLA made a late run for him this morning, but he prayed about the decision and signed with USC.

1:08 p.m. -- Indications are that USC might be done for the day. There's the possibility that the coaching staff tucks away the five available scholarships and uses them for the 2014 class, which would become a 20-member class.

12:46 p.m. -- USC has officially announced the signings of Nico Falah, Steven Mitchell, Ty Isaac, Michael Hutchings, Khaliel Rodgers and Quinton Powell.

12:34 p.m. -- ESPN 150 prospect Steven Mitchell, the only receiver in the class, has also signed. No official word from USC yet, though. No surprise on this one. Read all about Mitchell's drama-free recruitment here Insider.

12:29 p.m. -- It's important to note that USC has yet to announce any of its signees, though Khaliel Rodgers and Michael Hutchings have confirmed they have signed and sent in their national letters of intent.

12:16 p.m. -- Washington has announced that it received a signed national letter of intent from cornerback Jermaine Kelly, ending any chance USC had to swoop in late for the local standout. The Trojans offered on Tuesday hoping to soften the blow dealt by the loss of Jalen Ramsey, but it was too late. Kelly fell in love with Seattle and decided to leave the area. USC has had a bad two days.

12:11 p.m. -- It's no surprise now, but Jason Hatcher has officially signed with Kentucky. He walked into his announcement ceremony wearing a blue tie and carrying a blue Kentucky hat. Bigelow is the lone defensive lineman who remains from a group that included Hatcher, Fitts, Prevot and Eddie Vanderdoes.

11:11 a.m. -- We've received word that cornerback Jermaine Kelly, who was offered by USC less than 24 hours before signing day, is expected to announce his college choice in 30 minutes.

Kelly (Los Angeles/Salesian) is committed to Washington and was previously committed to UCLA, but it wouldn't be surprising if he signed with childhood favorite USC. It would be big for the Trojans given the loss of No. 4 CB Jalen Ramsey to Florida State.

11:00 a.m. -- No. 14 DT Keith Bryant had a USC hat on the table at his announcement ceremony but committed to Florida State. It appears Bigelow will be the only incoming defensive lineman for the Trojans.

9:33 a.m. -- Eddie Vanderdoes has cleared the air about his situation, writing on his Twitter account: "I'll put my life on it that I have NOT signed one paper yet."

9:15 a.m. -- ESPN 150 linebacker Quinton Powell (Daytona Beach, Fla./Mainland) committed to USC, ending a drought of sorts for the Trojans. Fitts, Thomas, Ramsey and Prevot had committed elsewhere, so this is an important pick up for USC.

"Every time I heard about (the decommitments) I shrugged it off," Powell said. "I just thought about myself. I wanted to commit based on my opinion of the school."

8:41 a.m. -- Prevot announced he is signing with Oregon. Another blow to USC, heightened by the fact that they lost out to another Pac-12 school... With DE Kylie Fitts (Redlands, Calif./Redlands East Valley) signing with UCLA and Jason Hatcher (Louisville, Ky./Trinity) expected to sign with Kentucky, the Trojans are down to early enrollee Kenny Bigelow in this class.

8:28 a.m. -- Four-star DE Torrodney Prevot (Houston, Texas/Alief Taylor) has three hats on the table at his announcement ceremony: USC, Oregon and Texas A&M...

8:00 a.m. -- No. 4-rated CB Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy) officially flipped from USC to Florida State in a signing ceremony at his school. It's a big loss for USC, which had held onto his commitment since the summer. Ultimately, the firing of defensive backs coach Marvin Sanders appears to have made the difference. Ramsey felt very comfortable with new Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt, who recruited him while he was at Alabama.

[+] EnlargeKhaliel Rodgers
Courtesy of Khaliel RodgersKhaliel Rodgers makes it official with the Trojans.
7:16 a.m. -- UCLA coach Jim Mora announced the school received a signed national letter of intent from four-star safety Tahaan Goodman (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga), ending any speculation that the close friend of USC early enrollee Chris Hawkins might potentially flip. Not catastrophic since the Trojans are set at safety with No. 1 Su'a Cravens and No. 3 Leon McQuay III.

6:15 a.m. -- No. 1-rated OLB Matthew Thomas (Miami, Fla./Booker T. Washington) committed to Florida State, citing a comfort level with the coaches and it being a family decision. According to sources, USC made a late run Tuesday night but ran out of time.

4:55 a.m. -- ESPN 300 OG Khaliel Rodgers has signed his paperwork and is making it official with the Trojans.

4:15 a.m. -- Signing day is finally here. Follow along for the latest news as USC looks to put the finishing touches on its 2013 recruiting class.

Early enrollee McQuay sparks momentum 

January, 4, 2013
Long overdue for positive news, the USC Trojans finally got some Friday in the form of a commitment from highly coveted safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood), live during the Under Armour All-America Game in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Quite frankly, USC needed this one.

[+] EnlargeLeon McQuay
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comThe exit of Trojans defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin didn't faze four-star safety Leon McQuay.
Following a recent rough stretch -- both in recruiting and on the field -- the addition of McQuay to a dwindling class is both significant and encouraging. If the Trojans plan to regain the momentum they built in the summer, securing a pledge from the nation's No. 3 safety is a good start.

ESPN 150 S McQuay commits to USC

January, 4, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- After four prospects decommitted from the USC Trojans since the beginning of November, the Trojans have finally got some good news as ESPN 150 safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) verbally committed to USC tonight during the Under Armour All-America Game.

The 6-foot-2, 183-pound four-star athlete selected the Trojans over Florida State, Oregon, Vanderbilt and Michigan.

As a senior, McQuay totaled 54 tackles and five interceptions on defense. He also added five receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown on offense.

McQuay, the nation’s No. 3 safety and a starter in Friday's UA Game, is expected to enroll early at USC and be eligible to play spring football.

With McQuay's decision, the Trojans have 15 verbal commitments, including 10 who are members of the ESPN 150. Each of the 15 commitments is ranked as a four-star or higher.

DE Lawson gets Christmas call from Garner 

December, 30, 2012
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -– Five-star defensive end Carl Lawson (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton) has been committed to Auburn since March. After Gene Chizik was let go and replaced by former Tigers offensive coordinator Guz Malzahn earlier this month, schools lined up to try and get Lawson on campus. If he had his way he would oblige as many of his suitors as possible.

“I would like to visit Clemson, Tennessee, FSU, UCLA, USC, UNC and Ole Miss, but realistically the five I visit might be Clemson, Tennessee, Ole Miss, UNC and USC,” Lawson said.

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ESPN 150 S McQuay set to decide Friday 

December, 30, 2012
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- ESPN 150 safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) will be making his college decision at the Under Armour All-America Game on Friday.

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ESPN 150 CB Ramsey talks final visit 

December, 20, 2012
Tennessee is working hard to get back in the race for ESPN 150 cornerback and USC Trojans commit Jalen Ramsey (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy). Apparently, it's going to take a lot more work.

The Volunteers have put the hard press on the No. 1 prospect in the state. Ramsey said he has spoken to new UT coach Butch Jones, running backs coach Jay Graham, defensive coordinator Willie Martinez and tight ends coach Mark Elder since the group was hired this month.

Jones was hired to replace Derek Dooley, who was fired after the 2012 season, and Dooley never had a strong connection with Ramsey. Unlike Dooley, Jones has a history of success at various programs.

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Juco OL Desmond Harrison visits USC 

December, 18, 2012
After taking his fifth and final official visit over the weekend, highly coveted junior college offensive lineman Desmond Harrison (San Pablo, Calif./Contra Costa College) was relieved to finally have gathered all the facts and experienced all the schools he is considering.

Now, following an official visit to USC, the 6-foot-8, 310-pound tackle can mull his options.

"It was a nice time," Harrison said of his trip to Los Angeles. "I enjoyed my time down there. Just being around the players and the coaches, it was nice. I don't really have a favorite part about the visit, but all of it was great. ... USC was the first school I wanted. For me to get that, it's great. I like players there, for sure. (Offensive line) coach (James) Cregg told me if I get down there, I can work my butt off to get where I want to be. He's not just going to hand me a position. I like that."

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S Malcolm Cook re-opens recruitment 

December, 5, 2012
Malcolm Cook (Fork Union, Va./Fork Union) hasn't officially decommitted from Virginia following the firing of four assistants, but the safety said he's re-opening his recruitment.

In the last 48 hours, the prospect has received 11 offers and entertained visits and phone calls from the likes of Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and USC. He planned to speak with the Trojans after basketball practice Wednesday, and he chatted in-person with Penn State assistant Charles London on Tuesday.

"It doesn't really matter to me about other schools looking at me," he said, when asked whether this new attention was a consolation. "The reason I committed to Virginia was because of the defensive coordinator, Coach [Jim] Reid. So I was really hurt by Coach Reid not being there.

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ESPN 150 DT Bryant keeps Canes close 

September, 30, 2012
ESPN 150 defensive tackle Keith Bryant (Delray Beach, Fla./Atlantic) was on the move Saturday and didn’t have much time to talk.

“I’m heading to watch the Miami game right now,” he said. “I haven’t seen them live yet this year so I’m pretty excited.”

What does the 6-foot-1, 295-pound senior think about the school he committed to this year?

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USC commit Jason Hatcher making visits 

September, 25, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS -- Louisville (Ky.) Trinity defensive end and Jason Hatcher committed to USC two months ago and is adamant that he is solid to the Trojans, but the ESPN 300 prospect wants to take all five of his official visits.

Hatcher, ranked the nation's No. 288 overall recruit by ESPN, committed to USC over Florida, Louisville and Tennessee, and he plans to visit two of those other programs. One more school is definitely in the running, and he is looking for a fourth to complete his five visits, with USC getting the last one.

"I've been talking to Florida. I know I'll probably go up to Ohio State. I know I'm going to USC. Those are the only ones I know for sure," he said. "I'll probably go to Tennessee as well."

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2015 QB Niko Johnson soaks up exposure 

August, 27, 2012
Niko Johnson (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) is hoping his efforts last weekend will jump start his recruitment. They should.

Against Fork Union (Va.) Military, the sophomore quarterback completed 11 of 20 passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns while gaining 74 yards on nine rushing attempts and was a standout defensive back in Hermitage's 38-0 rout. Best of all, it happened on national television.

“I think it will help a lot,” Johnson said. “I feel that it has basically put me on the radar when it comes to being recruited.”

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Three commits' teams make ESPN 25

August, 27, 2012
The high school teams of three USC commits are ranked in this week's ESPN 25 power rankings.

Louisville (Ky.) Trinity, whose defense is spearheaded by Trojans commit Jason Hatcher, checks in at No. 5, while Concord (Calif.) De La Salle (linebacker Michael Hutchings) and Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta (safety Su'a Cravens) rank No. 10 and No. 19, respectively.

Trinity has opened its season with two impressive wins against teams from neighboring Tennessee, including fellow USC commit Jalen Ramsey's Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy.

Hutchings and Cravens open their seasons Friday. De La Salle meets San Jose (Calif.) Bellarmine at San Jose Community College, and Vista Murrieta hosts Highlands Ranch (Colo.) ThunderRidge.

State of the brand: USC Trojans

August, 14, 2012
Editor's note: RecruitingNation is taking a look at the state of each team's brand.

LOS ANGELES -- When UCLA head football coach Jim Mora recently made an ill-advised comment directed toward the USC community, Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin took the high road and chose to respond by focusing on the positives of the university he represents.

“Our staff does not negatively recruit,” Kiffin said. “There are so many good things to talk about here as far as the school and the history of the program. It’s the greatest place in the world, so there’s no need to talk about other places.”

It’s a theme that Kiffin uses often -- the power of USC. He uses it when talking about the spotlight on his program or when he is recruiting the next elite prospect. And when you take a snapshot of the current state of the USC brand name, it’s hard to argue with what he’s saying.

At the recently completed London Olympic Games, USC-related athletes won 25 medals overall, more than any other college in the country. That total included 12 gold medals, which would have placed USC sixth overall among all countries. Among those included in that medal count were memorable figures such as swimmer Rebecca Soni, sprinter Allyson Felix and the USA flag-bearer for the closing ceremonies, sprinter Bryshon Nellum.

On campus, the university is preparing for the dedication of the new John McKay Center, a state-of-the-art athletics building which will house the football offices, training facilities and student-athlete academic services. Built at a cost of $70 million, the McKay Center has risen during a time when the USC program was supposed to be down due to NCAA sanctions. Instead, USC will now boast one of the finest facilities in the country to train and educate their athletes.

When the NCAA sanctions were first announced for the Reggie Bush case, many people across the country considered it a crippling blow, one that would certainly hurt the Trojans for many years. As the 2012 season prepares to open, however, USC sits atop the ESPN preseason poll with a quarterback that many consider the favorite for the Heisman Trophy.

Speaking of No. 1 rankings, USC is also in the top spot of the ESPN recruiting rankings despite being limited in the number of recruits they can take in the class of 2013 due to scholarship reductions. Rather than causing top recruits to look away, many of the prospects looked at getting one of the limited USC spots as a badge of honor.

How many schools could take such a body-blow from the NCAA and still be sitting in this position? Not many. Alabama is one of the schools that can be considered on the same elite brand name level as USC, yet it took several years for the Crimson Tide to recover from lesser sanctions a decade ago.

One of the clearest examples of the USC brand name came last month with the recruitment of Penn State running back Silas Redd. When the sanctions against Penn State were first announced, there was an understandable movement by the Nittany Lions players to keep the team intact. Redd was clearly the best player on the team but his focus was lasered in on one school -- USC.

While his former teammates were attempting to show solidarity, Redd was hosting the Trojans coaches and then quickly taking a cross-country visit to see the USC campus. After transferring to USC, Redd had the opportunity to participate in his first scrimmage last week in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, the Trojans’ home field and the only stadium in the country which has hosted two Olympics.

Redd said he got chills while walking down the famed tunnel toward the Coliseum floor. It’s statements like that which help prove Kiffin’s point, that there’s no need for the USC coach to negatively recruit or talk about other programs. Not when he has a brand name like USC to sell, one which is certainly resonating loud within the college football world these days.

WeAreSC Recruiting Mailbag 

August, 10, 2012
WeAreSC recruiting reporter Blair Angulo answers reader questions in his mailbag every Friday. Have a USC recruiting question of your own? Submit it here.

Mike Hugill (San Jose, Calif.): Blair, as thrilled as I am to see our Trojans cherry pick for the next recruiting class, I am reminded that they are 17- and 18-year-olds and very impressionable to other schools' promises. What does SC do between now and February to keep this incredible class together for signing day?

Win, win, win on the field.

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5-star OT Laremy Tunsil names officials 

August, 8, 2012
Schools are fighting to get in with five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia), but only five programs will be lucky enough to host the No. 3 prospect in the country for an official visit this fall.

“I will be taking official visits to Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Ole Miss and USC,” Tunsil said.

Three of the programs made the cut because of their history.

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