NCF On The Trail: USC Trojans

Getting to know Jashon Cornell 

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
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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.

When you attend a school as prestigious as Cretin-Derham Hall, as No. 16-ranked recruit Jashon Cornell does, you are bound to have connections. The Minnesota school has produced its share of college and NFL players over the years, including associate dean of students Marcus Freeman, who played for Notre Dame.


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Dylan Crawford’s mind raced the first time he jogged toward a five-star cornerback last fall.

It was the first night of November. The grass at Gardena (Calif.) Serra had dampened as a heavy marine layer made its way inland. Shifty receivers such as Crawford typically rely on their footing and ability to change directions, so he had quite the challenge on his feet.


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Getting to know DaMarkus Lodge 

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
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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.

DESOTO, Texas -- With all the multiple camps, combines and special events happening each spring, DaMarkus Lodge chooses not to be a regular on the circuit.

It’s not that Lodge is against them, or that he thinks he’s above them. The ESPN 300 receiver has simply prioritized his life as a student-athlete. The camp circuit happens to be a middle-of-the-pack priority.


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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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The spring evaluation period kicked off Tuesday, and the USC Trojans didn’t have to leave campus to recruit two of their top 2015 targets.


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Some of the recruiting relationships the current USC coaching staff developed while at Washington proved beneficial following the move to Los Angeles. The Trojans signed Rahshead Johnson, Claudeson Pelon, Jonathan Lockett, John Plattenburg and Don Hill in 2014, all of whom had prior connections to the Huskies.

The rewards might continue with the Class of 2015.


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REDONDO BEACH, Calif. -- At first, John Houston Jr. got a good laugh out of the fake Twitter account using his name.

The ESPN 300 linebacker was flattered, in a sense, knowing someone out there thought highly enough of him to pretend to be him. An impersonation meant all of his work on the field had earned him enough recognition.

Then, when the fake account suddenly announced a March 24 commitment to USC, Houston had a problem.


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The USC Trojans appear to have their quarterback of the future -- perhaps even two if they sign both Ricky Town and longtime commit David Sills -- but who will protect them?

Coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff hauled in a stellar 2014 offensive line group in February, led by highly-rated guards Damien Mama, Viane Talamaivao and mid-year enrollee Toa Lobendahn. The Trojans also signed ESPN 300 tackle Chris Brown and promising tackle prospect Jordan Austin, using more than a quarter of their 2014 scholarship allotment to shore up the offensive line.

Still, the presumed weak point would be the lack of depth at the offensive tackle spot. The Trojans addressed their needs, but Brown might need another year to bulk up and Austin admitted he needs some time to develop. On top of that, Nico Falah was the only offensive tackle the Trojans added in the 2013 class, a major effect of the scholarship reductions that could create serious concerns for whoever is standing in the pocket in a couple years.

From the looks of it, USC has made the tackle position one of its top priorities in the 2015 class.


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Tyler Vaughns froze in his seat. The Class of 2016 receiver wanted to leap in the air and scream. He wanted to show emotion, but, in utter shock, he remained still.

Similar to many recruits in Southern California, Vaughns grew up idolizing former USC running back Reggie Bush. He admired the accomplishments of quarterback Matt Leinart. More recently, he followed the progress of receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee.


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The possibility of landing a scholarship offer from USC has several in-state recruits antsy for the looming spring evaluation period, with three-star receiver Austin Aaron, three-star cornerback Jihree Stewart and fast-rising defensive end Trevor Howard among the hopefuls.


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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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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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FONTANA, Calif. -- In the passing league circuit, Keyshawn Johnson Jr. wears the same number that his father made famous at USC two decades ago. He lines up at receiver, a position his father played in the NFL for 11 years, and made noise in recent weeks by bursting onto the scene with seven early scholarship offers, most notably from Florida State and Ohio State.

Yet, despite the buzz that comes along with being Keyshawn Johnson’s son, the Class of 2017 prospect wants his own identity.

“I don’t want to be in my dad’s shadow for the rest of my life,” Johnson said. “I want my own name.”


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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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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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