USC: Football Recruiting

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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Get to know Keisean Lucier-South 

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
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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.

Unlike a number of ESPN Junior 300 prospects, Keisean Lucier-South didn't grow up dreaming of becoming a football star. In fact, he had to be convinced that it was the best path for him.

Lucier-South began playing sports at an early age, but it was always basketball that grabbed the majority of his attention and passion. It became his primary sport when he was 5 years old, and even though he picked up football only a few years later, the gridiron couldn't captivate his imagination quite like the court.

But a conversation before his sophomore season between his head coach and defensive coordinator -- a conversation he wasn't initially involved in -- turned things around for Lucier-South.


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Getting to know Iman Marshall 

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
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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.

Iman Marshall is already one of the most well-known and sought-after recruits in the West region, but don't expect to hear that name much between now and signing day.

Around the Long Beach (Calif.) Poly campus and the entirety of Southern California, Marshall is simply referred to as "Biggie."

"It goes all the way back to when I was a baby, from my mom," Marshall said. "I guess I was a chubby little baby."


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Texas Relays recruiting notebook 

March, 30, 2014
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AUSTIN, Texas -- The state of Texas’ top track athletes descended on Austin this weekend to compete in the annual Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays on the campus of the University of Texas, and the field of competitors included several touted 2015 and 2016 recruits. Here’s an update on where a few of them stand in their recruitment.

RB Jones wants to travel

The battle for Ronald Jones II, one of the state’s top running back recruits out of McKinney North, rages on as he should be hitting the road in the next few months.


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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 recruiting target tracker 

March, 25, 2014
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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:

FS Marvell Tell
6-foot-1, 175 pounds
Position rank: No. 3 | ESPN Junior 300 rank: No. 33
The latest: Tell landed some major offers recently, with Oklahoma being a notable one, and raised some eyebrows by taking a trip to Washington State earlier this month. The free safety said he is open to leaving the area for college, but USC and UCLA could be tough to overcome. He wants to commit on national signing day at the local park where his journey began.

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Meet ESPN Junior 300 DT Jacob Daniel 

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
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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.

It's now a common occurrence for seventh and eighth graders to collect scholarship offers and even make verbal commitments to schools. Defensive tackle Jacob Daniel didn't take that route to becoming an elite prospect. In fact, when Daniel was that age, he wasn't playing football at all.

[+] EnlargeJacob Daniel
Blair Angulo/ESPN.comJacob Daniel didn't grow up a football player but took to the sport quickly in high school.
"I was a basketball player and I didn't play football until my freshman year," said Daniel, a 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman who now checks in as the No. 61 overall prospect and No. 10 defensive tackle in the country. "I didn't even really like football."

Daniel began his career as an offensive tackle, but was moved to the middle of the defensive line as a sophomore. It was during that season when his football light went on.

"We were playing Clovis High and we were undefeated," Daniel said of a game his team would eventually lose. "There were about 5,000 people in the stands and there was all that noise. I thought, 'Wow, this is fun.' That sealed the deal for me with football."

Daniel said he now can't live without the sport and is extremely grateful that night put him on a path to where he is now. He gives California two of the top 10 defensive tackle prospects -- along with Rasheem Green -- which should make Pac-12 coaches extremely happy, considering the position has been fairly thin in terms of depth in the state over the past few years.

Thomas Toki and Kahlil McKenzie also give California four of the top 20 defensive tackles in the nation, and Daniel said he's had his eye on the group for a while now, watching their highlight tapes.

Daniel, Green and McKenzie had a chance to meet during a trip to USC for the Trojans' junior day this winter, and while Daniel said he had a good time with the other ESPN 300 prospects and that he could see them working well as teammates, there's no guarantee they'll wind up at the same school, as all three still have plenty of the recruiting process left to explore.

For Daniel, roughly 30 offers have been cut to a final 11 schools, and he'll look to take that group down to five by the summer. And when Daniel ultimately settles on one program and makes his commitment, the coach might want to take a moment to send a thank you to the fans that filled that Fresno football stadium two years ago.

About his recruitment: Daniel made an early commitment to Washington, but pulled away from that when Steve Sarkisian left for USC. Daniel cut his list to 11 schools this spring, as Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, California, Fresno State, Mississippi, Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington remain in the hunt. The big defensive tackle is looking to trim that list even further before summer begins, as he'd like to head into the long break with a top five schools.


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Meet No. 5 OLB John Houston Jr. 

March, 20, 2014
Mar 20
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video Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile several 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.

For much of the past decade, Gardena (Calif.) Serra has been a must-stop destination for college football coaches. Not only have the Cavaliers not lost more than three games in a season since 2005, the last five recruiting classes have featured ESPN 300 prospects Robert Woods, Marqise Lee and George Farmer of USC and Jason Gibson of Cal, as well as standout receiver Paul Richardson of Colorado. In the 2014 class, nine Serra players signed with FBS programs, including No. 9 overall prospect Adoree' Jackson with USC and No. 180 overall prospect Dwight Williams with UCLA.

The Serra campus will again be swarming with college coaches in 2014, as the school has three ESPN Junior 300 prospects and several more 2015 recruits that will sign with FBS programs. And right in the middle of it all will be John Houston Jr.


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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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QB Henry has dual-threat, dual-sport goals 

March, 19, 2014
Mar 19
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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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Pylon Elite West Coast Regional notebook 

March, 17, 2014
Mar 17
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LAS VEGAS -- Sin City was home to the largest 7-on-7 tournament on record this past weekend, as 82 teams representing at least 10 states participated in the Pylon Elite West Coast Regional 7v7.

Gridiron Get It Done, a Southern California-based squad, came away with the title thanks to big performances from quarterback Cole Norris, wide receiver Kyle Sweet and safety Barrett Barbato. Sweet walked away with MVP honors and could be a name to watch on the recruiting circuit as he preps for his senior season at Rancho Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita.

A number of ESPN athletes were also in attendance, highlighted by the nation’s No. 1 quarterback, Josh Rosen, No. 3 safety Marvell Tell, No. 5 outside linebacker John Houston Jr. and No. 2 inside linebacker Cameron Smith.

Rosen visits Michigan; decision coming soon


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Offense shines on Day 2

March, 13, 2014
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After the defense stood out in the team’s first practice session under Steve Sarkisian on Tuesday, the new USC head coach said the offense stole the show on Day 2 of the Trojans’ spring practice.

“I thought the offense created some explosive plays in the second practice which weren’t there in the first practice,” Sarkisian said. “And so, like I’m used to on this practice field, one side of the ball can get the better of the other on one day, and then you come back the next practice and the other side can get the better of them. I thought the defense had a great Tuesday [and] I thought the offense came out and created some explosive plays today. It was kind of their turn.”

In particular, it was the play of quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Browne -- who are entrenched in a position battle -- that really caught the eye of Sarkisian. Directing the team’s brand new uptempo, shotgun-based offense, both signal callers split the bulk of snaps during the 7-on-7 and team periods, with each contender completing deep passes downfield on a number of occasions.

“I thought they played well today,” Sarkisian said. “I think that they’re starting to recognize the speed coming out of Tuesday’s practice of how fast things go, and how quickly they have to recognize fronts and coverages, and making those quick decisions -- similar to how a point guard would have to make quick decisions on a basketball court. And I thought both Cody and Max were much better at that today.”

And even though the third member of the quarterback competition, early entry freshman Jalen Greene, didn’t see as much action as his counterparts, he came up with a big play of his own when he completed a 35-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone to Darreus Rogers, and it certainly didn’t go unnoticed by Sarkisian.

“[He took] a little less reps, but to Jalen’s credit he goes in and throws a touchdown pass,” Sarkisian said. “He’ll get plenty of reps. We’ve got 13 more [practices] to go, so he’ll get his time. We just felt like it was important to get Cody and Max some extended reps in today’s practice.”

Cope-Fitzpatrick makes a big impression

No player benefitted more from the performance of the quarterbacks than junior tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. With Randall Telfer sidelined due to injury, the former Rocklin (Calif.) Whitney standout is currently the only active scholarship tight end available for the Trojans. To his credit, he’s taken advantage of the increased opportunity this spring, particularly on Thursday.

Showcasing soft hands, Cope-Fitzpatrick hauled in a number of passes all over the field, and he was especially in sync with Kessler. With Sarkisian having shown at Washington that he isn’t afraid to use the tight end as a major weapon in his offense, he was encouraged by what he saw from Cope-Fitzpatrick on Thursday.

“In this system we love to utilize the tight end, and a lot of time multiple tight ends,” Sarkisian said. “I think Jalen has really focused himself on trying to come out and have a good spring. I thought he was really attentive and locked in on Tuesday, and then he got opportunities today to make plays down the field, and he made them. I think that’s what he’s capable of. He’s an athletic guy, he’s got tremendous ball skills and I think he’s seen a real opportunity to step up and make plays and he’s doing it.”

Notes and quotes

• Following practice defensive back Josh Shaw, who is still sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot and is wearing a boot, said that he will line up at cornerback in 2014.

J.R. Tavai saw extensive time with the first-team defense at defensive end on Thursday, where Kenny Bigelow lined up for the majority of Tuesday’s practice. Tavai had run primarily with the second unit on the outside at rush end on Tuesday.

• Among those in attendance were Class of 2014 signees Viane Talamaivao, Damien Mama, Chris Brown and Ajene Harris, Class of 2015 defensive lineman Rasheem Green and USC and NFL greats Keyshawn Johnson and Ronnie Lott.

• The next practice is on Saturday, but the team will be in shorts, shoulder pads and helmets, and it will not be in a scrimmage setting as some might have assumed. In fact, Sarkisian said that he isn’t sure that the team will hold any scrimmages in the traditional sense this spring.

“I don’t know if we’re ever going to come out and have a two-hour scrimmage. I don’t know if we benefit from that,” he said. “But there will be portions of our practice that will be live, that will be scrimmage oriented, and I think that will allow us to tackle, it will allow us to cut block, it will allow us to learn from those things, but not be so overly fatigued to where guys can start getting injured.”

Meet USC QB commit Ricky Town 

March, 12, 2014
Mar 12
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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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Broadus changes location, not plans 

March, 11, 2014
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Highly-coveted wide receiver Cordell Broadus' desire to play against stiffer competition should be quenched following his transfer to powerhouse Las Vegas Bishop Gorman, but it could carry underlying recruiting implications as well.

USC and UCLA used to be about a one-hour drive from Broadus when he was at Diamond Bar (Calif.), where he burst onto the spotlight two years ago after transferring from Long Beach (Calif.) Poly. Now both coaching staffs, like others across the country, will likely have to hop on a plane to see him this fall.


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Highlights from the L.A. NFTC 

March, 10, 2014
Mar 10
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REDONDO BEACH, Calif. -- A new season of the Nike Football Training Camp circuit got kicked off this past weekend in Los Angeles with a strong showing. It was a large turnout and had some good prospects, including several in the ESPN Junior 300. It is a strong year for quarterbacks out West, and that was on display at Redondo Union High School. The wide receivers and linemen also featured a good deal of talent. Here are the Recruiting Nation NFTC Awards, highlighting the top performers.


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PASSINGATTCOMPYDSTD
C. Kessler361236296820
RUSHINGCARYDSAVGTD
J. Allen1357855.814
T. Madden1387035.13
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M. Lee5779113.94
N. Agholor5691816.46
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Offense174.2218.1392.3
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