NCF On The Trail: USC Trojans

Best of the visits: Pac-12

October, 19, 2014
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Another weekend of Pac-12 games meant another weekend of Pac-12 visitors, as multiple conference programs hosted important official and unofficial visitors. Those recruits took to twitter to share their experiences, as Arizona State, Cal, USC and Oregon all put together significant performances -- including three home victories -- in front of recruits.

Cal hosts big weekend

The Golden Bears had a number of official visitors on hand -- including ESPN 300 wide receiver Carlos Strickland -- and almost pulled off the upset against UCLA. As always, the Cal passing game was on display, and this time it came in front of Strickland and three-star receiver Lavan Alston. Class of 2016 standout running back Sean McGrew, who holds a number of Pac-12 offers, was also on hand on an unofficial visit.

Oregon's ESPN 300 visitors

Perhaps no Pac-12 program hosted a more potent one-two punch than the Ducks, as Oregon brought in ESPN 300 teammates John Houston Jr. and Rasheem Green on official visits.


The two hold significant interest in UCLA, USC and other programs, but the Ducks picked a great weekend to bring in the talented defenders on official visits. Neither is expected to make a decision before signing day, but Oregon could be in the mix for both until the end.

Masina's second Pac-12 trip

ESPN 300 outside linebacker Osa Masina has three Pac-12 programs among his final schools, and the nation's No. 124 overall prospect was on an official visit to Arizona State this weekend. Masina went to UCLA earlier this month and will visit USC at the end of November.

Recruits see big USC win

While the Trojans didn't host any official visitors, being the only game in Los Angeles brought out some important local prospects.

ESPN 300 athlete Ykili Ross attended several USC games this season and was at the Coliseum again on Saturday.


The Trojans also received an unofficial visit from 2016 ESPN 300 safety C.J. Pollard, who picked up an offer from USC last week. Pollard is another in a long line of Gardena (Calif.) Serra standouts and his father, Marvin, is a former USC cornerback.

UA jersey tour: Iman Marshall

October, 17, 2014
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Cornerback Iman Marshall was the center of attention at Long Beach (Calif.) Poly on Friday morning, as he received his Under Armour All-America Game jersey. It's the second consecutive year a Jackrabbits standout will take part in the game, as Marshall follows Juju Smith, from the 2014 class.

Marshall will follow Smith's lead in another aspect as well, as the five-star cornerback and nation's No. 8 overall prospect will keep recruiting fans guessing as to his ultimate destination all the way to signing day.

While Marshall announced earlier this fall that he would take official visits to Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame and Oklahoma, those have yet to be scheduled.

"Everything is still the same," Marshall said of his recruiting plan. "I'm just enjoying the process and the season. I'm excited for my five officials."

Although, everything might not be the same for long, as Marshall added that those might not actually be the five schools he visits.

"I have a feeling I might switch one, but I'm still debating," Marshall said, declining to state what school might not actually receive a trip.

SATs have prevented Marshall from taking official visits to this point, and he said he hopes to eventually take some during the end of the season so there isn't a rush to take them all after the season ends. One thing that isn't likely to change between now and the end of the year is that the three California schools involved -- Stanford, UCLA and USC -- will all be in the race until the end.

Six questions with Iman Marshall

Who are you most looking forward to playing with at the Under Armour All-America Game?

Marshall: "First off I would love to play with Josh Rosen, Christian Kirk and Cordell Broadus. There are a lot of guys on the East Coast as well, but those are the three that come to my mind right now."

If you could start your team with any player from the 2015 recruiting class, who would it be?

Marshall: "I'd have Rosen at quarterback, Broadus on one side and Kirk on the other, with Calvin Ridley in there also. Me at cornerback, Derwin James at safety and Kevin Tolliver on the other side of me. John Houston and Jeffery Holland at linebacker."

What is your earliest football memory?

Marshall: "In my first game, I went 85 yards for a touchdown on my first carry."

What football player did you idolize growing up?

Marshall: "As a defensive back, of course, I wanted to be like Deion Sanders. Every DB wants to be like him."

If you could take on any professional at their sport, who would it be?

Marshall: "I'd take on LeBron or Kobe at basketball. You can't miss that."

Why do you wear your number (8)?

Marshall: "Nobody knows this but the reason I got eight was that in Pop Warner, my number was zero. They didn't have zero in high school, so the closest number that looks like zero is eight."

Pac-12 South recruiting roundup 

October, 16, 2014
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At the halfway point of college football's regular season, there is still plenty to be decided both on the field and on the recruiting trail. The Pac-12 placed six programs among the top 40 recruiting classes in Wednesday's updated class rankings Insider and conference recruiting classes contain as many as 24 -- Arizona -- and as few as nine -- Stanford -- commitments. This update offers a look at where each Pac-12 South program stands with its 2015 recruiting class, including its top prospect and position of strength, as well as a look at where things are going well for each class.

Arizona

Total number of commitments: 24
ESPN 300 wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown was presented with his Under Armour All-America Game jersey on Tuesday afternoon in a ceremony in front of friends and family.

"I'm really blessed and happy for this moment," St. Brown said. "I never really had my eye on an all-star game. I was just looking forward to going to college. But this is just another blessing on top of it and an opportunity to play with some of the top players in the country."

St. Brown, the nation's No. 51 overall prospect and No. 7 wide receiver, is a hot commodity on the recruiting trail. He holds offers from nearly the entire Pac-12 as well as LSU, Notre Dame, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, and others. The Fighting Irish earned the first opportunity to make an impression, as St. Brown took an official visit to South Bend in early October.

"It was a different feeling, getting treated like a VIP," St. Brown said. "It was a fun time."

The next program up on St. Brown's visit schedule is Utah, as the Utes will host the 6-foot-5, 205-pound receiver in early November for their game against Oregon.

"They were one of my first offers and have been recruiting me ever since," St. Brown said of the Utes. "They've been doing good lately, so I'm going to go up there."

After that, it could be anybody's guess. St. Brown said he doesn't have a top group of schools and doesn't know which ones will receive his final three visits. St. Brown is likely to wait until signing day to announce his decision, which will give the in-state programs extended opportunities to make impressions. Stanford, UCLA and USC all remain involved, though there's no guarantee he'll take an official visit to any of them.

"They said it's okay if I take an unofficial visit," St. Brown said of local programs UCLA and USC. "Of course they want me to take officials, but they're okay if I go unofficially."

Seven questions with Equanimeous St. Brown

Who is one player you are looking forward to playing for or against at the Under Armour All-America Game?

"I'm looking forward to playing with Blake Barnett again. He was my quarterback up at The Opening."

If you could start a team with any 2015 recruit, who would it be?

"Travis Waller (St. Brown's high school quarterback)."

What is your earliest football memory?

"Playing flag football with Travis [Waller]. We were about seven."

What football player did you idolize while growing up?

"Growing up I usually played football. I didn't watch much, so I didn't really idolize anybody. Now, I try to play like Calvin Johnson. I think he's my kind of body type, so I try to see what he does."

If you could take on any pro player in their sport, who would it be?

"Richard Sherman."

Why do you wear your number (6)?

"As a junior, all the seniors got to pick first and there were only a few single digits left, so I just took it. I feel like single digits stand out more during games."

What is one thing people might not know about you?

"I like to play a lot of video games."

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

October, 14, 2014
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Pac-12 home teams are 4-14 this season, but the coaches in the conference continue to find recruiting success despite being forced to pitch their programs to prospects following home defeats. This past Saturday, Pac-12 home teams went 0-3 yet came out victorious on the recruiting trail, landing commitments and making positive impressions.


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Help is on the way: Pac-12 

October, 8, 2014
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Through six weeks of the 2014 season, every program has flashed at least one weakness or one position where depth is needed in a hurry. While the incoming batch of 2015 recruits won't help the prospects of the 2014 team, some will have an opportunity to make an immediate impact the following year, as they'll provide depth -- or perhaps jump into starting roles -- at positions of need. Here is a look through the Pac-12 at the biggest areas of need for each program, and the 2015 recruits on the way to provide help.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

October, 7, 2014
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The wild weekend in the Pac-12 wasn't limited to the field, as the recruiting trail saw some significant action as well. Three impact commitments landed in the conference, while three more ESPN 300 prospects took official visits and several big wins by certain programs made an impact with recruits.


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Vols RB commit Alvin Kamara is drawing comparisons to a former four-time Pro-Bowl selection after his fast start. Plus, Michigan seemed to be in great shape for ESPN 300 DE Keisean Lucier-South, but now the Wolverines’ chances are fading quickly.

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The 2015 ESPN Junior College Watch List is comprised of more than 200 prospects who will be evaluated for a position inside the Juco 50. Here is a snapshot of six prospects, three skill and three non-skill, who have impressed in the early evaluations.


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Juco recruits to watch: Pac-12 

October, 6, 2014
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Pac-12 programs have found plenty of success in the junior college ranks over the past few years. Wide receivers Jaelen Strong and Vince Mayle's impacts for Arizona State and Washington State, respectively, have been substantial. Oregon, Oregon State and USC found defensive stalwarts Joe Walker, Steven Nelson and Claude Pelon, respectively, at the junior college level. Those are only a few of the juco prospects in the Pac-12, and with programs such as Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon State, Utah and Washington State able to recruit so well at the junior college level, the conference is likely to land a number of impact junior college prospects who find themselves in the recently released Juco Watch List.

A dozen members of the Watch List have already committed to Pac-12 programs, but here are three names on the list that Pac-12 fans should know.


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Pac-12 coaches believe upsets by Arizona, Arizona State and Utah could also shake things up in recruiting. Mississippi Madness is in full effect, as both Ole Miss and Mississippi State receive recruiting boosts after big victories.


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Best of the visits: Pac-12

October, 5, 2014
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Recruits were treated to a wild and entertaining weekend in the Pac-12, as five conference home games were decided by a total of 19 points, with 371 points scored. A Hail Mary connected, an NCAA passing record was set and all three ranked home teams suffered defeat. With so much action on the field, there was plenty of chatter from recruits on social media.

Ducks host midweek visitors

The Pac-12's recruiting weekend began last Wednesday, as Oregon hosted committed quarterback Travis Waller and three-star defensive end Gus Cumberland, as well as the Arizona Wildcats on Thursday night. While the game didn't go exactly as planned, the visits did, as Waller and Cumberland both very much enjoyed their time in Eugene. Cumberland, in fact, saw enough to announce his commitment to Oregon shortly after the trip.

 

Recruits flock to Los Angeles

With UCLA and USC both playing home games, plenty of recruits made their way to the Rose Bowl and Coliseum on Saturday. While both programs suffered last-second defeats, they provided plenty of entertainment value for those in attendance.

The Trojans hosted the No. 9-ranked player in the country, cornerback Kendall Sheffield -- who undoubtedly found plenty to fault on USC's Hail Mary defense but managed a meeting with Alex Rodriguez during the visit.

 
USC commit and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Jacob Daniel made the quick trip down to USC for the game.

 
ESPN Junior 300 wide receiver Javon McKinley, whose first offer came from Arizona State and also received a recent offer from UCLA, was at the Coliseum as well.

 
But fellow 2016 ESPN Junior 300 prospect Mique Juarez, who has offers from both UCLA and USC, might have summed up the game between the Sun Devils and Trojans better than anyone.

 
There was plenty of star power across town at UCLA's game as well. ESPN 300 defenders Keisean Lucier-South and Osa Masina were in attendance -- Masina was in town on an official visit.

 
Lucier-South recently announced that he moved USC back into the list of schools he is considering, but with Michigan and UCLA grabbing early leads -- and then Michigan's poor season so far -- the Bruins continue to look tough to beat in that race.

Utah's win in the Rose Bowl is likely to continue its strong recruiting momentum, and apparently almost netted the Utes a verbal from 2016 ESPN Junior 300 prospect Micah Croom.

 

Cougars host a huge visitor

The defensive backs in the Cal-Washington State game are likely to have nightmares this week, as the quarterbacks threw the ball all over the field on their way to 1,261 passing yards and 11 touchdowns. On the surface, it might not appear to be the best game for the Cougars to host ESPN 300 safety Marcus Lewis on an official visit, but the No. 152 overall prospect said he had a great time in Pullman.

 

Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

October, 3, 2014
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Every Pac-12 game this week comes with some significant intrigue, as this could turn into a separation Saturday in the South, while the North matchups pit two programs coming off close, emotional wins and two coming off tough road defeats. There will be official visitors all over the conference this weekend, but with two important games in Los Angeles, much of the recruiting focus will be there -- evidenced by our look at the top three recruiting visit weekends in the Pac-12.

1. USC


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UA jersey tour: LB John Houston

October, 1, 2014
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Gardena (Calif.) Serra is no stranger to high-profile football recruits, but ESPN 300 linebacker John Houston isn't just another in a long line. The 6-foot-3, 207-pound linebacker stood in front of friends, family and teammates on Wednesday afternoon, as he accepted his Under Armour All-America Game jersey. It was fitting that all eyes were focused on Houston, as that's often the case whether it's in the locker room or on the football field.

"He's been a great leader," Serra head coach Scott Altenberg said of Houston. "He reminds me of Robert Woods a lot, the way Robert carried himself. He takes to it so naturally, which is a difficult thing for a kid to have pressure on you so early. He doesn't get too high or too low. He's been a joy to coach."

Houston, the nation's No. 88 overall prospect and No. 3 inside linebacker, has been a standout on the Cavaliers defense since his sophomore season. Former Serra standouts have littered the Pac-12 for years, including Woods, Marqise Lee, Paul Richardson, Jason Gibson, George Farmer, Adoree' Jackson and Dwight Williams, among others. But Houston said following in those footsteps never created pressure.

"At Serra we establish being a Cavalier," Houston said. "A Cavalier is someone who is humble, accountable and ready to work hard on and off the field. Coach Altenberg and the whole staff installed that into us, so really there is no pressure. They let you grow as a young man."

Though Houston holds offers from programs across the country, he said Oklahoma, Oregon and USC are communicating with him the most right now. He has an official visit set to Oregon for Oct. 17 and said he is working to set a date with Oklahoma. The Trojans are pushing for an official visit, but Houston said he would like to take all five trips out of the state to see as much of the country as possible. USC signed three of Houston's former teammates in the 2014 class, and the star linebacker said he's heard plenty about how they are faring in cardinal and gold.

"I hear a lot about Adoree', Olajuwon Tucker and Jalen Greene," he said. "I hear Adoree' is playing both ways and really picking up everything they're teaching him. That shows a lot about Serra High School."

While Houston won't be asked to play both ways at the next level, Altenberg envisions college success for him, a path Houston has been on since his head coach got a glimpse early in his high school career.

"He runs like a wide receiver but is physical like a backer," Altenberg said. "Oftentimes you get one or the other, but John is flying 100 miles per hour, not slowing down. That kind of thing you don't get every day -- then for him to be such a talented kid and be so coachable. If they were all like him, life would be so easy."



Five questions with John Houston

Who are you most looking forward to playing with at the Under Armour All-America Game?

My boy Roquan Smith. That's my guy. I want to say what's up to him, but I don't know if we'll be on the same team.

What is your earliest football memory?

I was probably nine or 10 and got my first touchdown. It was pretty exciting and motivated me to do better.

What football player do you look up to most?

I looked up to Ray Lewis. He is a fast, aggressive player that comes downhill and smacks people, then he does all his job assignments. And his documentary I've seen -- he's compassionate and puts God, then family, then football

If you could take on any pro player in their sport, who would it be?

I couldn't tell you. I don't think I could hang with them. Not right now.

Why do you wear your number?

Ten is my dad's number, so I wanted to wear 10 to pass it down the family. I started with 33 my freshman year, but I believe I earned it (10), because I put in so much hard work and dedication to the team. Altenberg told me I could pick 10, so I picked it.

Early Offer: Why MSU going big in 2015 

September, 30, 2014
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What happens when you have a large senior class about to graduate? You target a large recruiting class like Mississippi State is in 2015. Michigan’s recruiting remains in chaos, as another Wolverine commit is having second thoughts.


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