NCF On The Trail: USC Trojans

Another wild week in Pac-12 

December, 19, 2014
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The Pac-12 and the West region are capable of producing some wild weeks during the lead-up to signing day, with so many prospects in the area waiting until that day to make their commitment and rivals going after so many of the same prospects.

Top sleeper recruits: Pac-12 

December, 18, 2014
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Five-star and ESPN 300 prospects create the most buzz, but with more than a hundred FBS programs competing for talent, it takes more than just those top-rated prospects to have success. Rosters are built largely with prospects who enter college with little fanfare, but their development and contributions are key. Every year we see prospects who flew under the radar but developed into some of their conference's top players.

Throughout our evaluations, we come across many players who show promise and are great additions based on their upside for development and/or scheme fit.

Here are five commitments in the Pac-12 that we believe are unheralded, but great additions worth keeping an eye on.


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A flurry of commitments and decommitments has led to considerable movement in the latest class rankings update. Several top-10 programs added ESPN 300 prospects, including Tennessee, which picked up top-10 ILB Darrin Kirkland Jr. The Vols already have a class that features a talented group of defensive linemen, and have now added a big, powerful inside linebacker that can develop into a tough downhill run-stopper. Butch Jones now has Tennessee in contention for a second-straight top-five finish.

Outside the top 10, USC landed a verbal from in-state tight end Tyler Petite, a tall, lengthy prospect with the size, speed and leaping ability to potentially create mismatches as a receiving target at the position. After landing the former Duke commit, USC's class features eight ESPN 300 prospects.

Ole Miss also saw a move up in the rankings with a pair of additions. The Rebels landed ESPN Junior College 50 QB Chad Kelly, a player who is physically gifted enough to be a strong candidate to replace QB Bo Wallace, a one-time junior college transfer himself. Ole Miss, who not sits at No. 17, also landed ESPN 300 OT Michael Howard. He is a lean OL prospect that needs to fill out, but is an athletic and tenacious player and with development could end up being a real strong pick-up out of Florida for the Rebels.

Inside the rankings

Coach Art Briles has had two very distinct luxuries when it comes to recruiting in today's complicated landscape -- recruiting in the shadows and recruiting without pressure. Both are actually in many ways, one in the same. As Briles has built this program, he's been able to do it his way without public pressure or booster interference because early on, nobody thought it could be done and nobody cared.

This staff was able to go after who they wanted, on their own timetable and without much scrutiny. In today's recruiting world, that's a huge luxury. Players like Levi Norwood, Antwan Goodley or Tevin Reese, who was a late qualifier, were all bypassed by other Power 5 programs, but nobody even noticed Baylor signed them or griped, "who are these guys" on signing day.

As a result, prospects like these were brought along at a normal pace and developed properly by the coaching staff. Redshirting the bulk of the classes for the first few years has also been huge for the Bears. The challenge going forward will be dealing with increased program exposure and expectation level which almost always brings with it increased recruiting scrutiny from boosters and fans alike. But the Bears don??t need to change a thing.



To see the full class rankings, click here.

Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

December, 16, 2014
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It was a busy weekend in the Pac-12, with commitments, offers, visits and awards touching nearly every team in the conference, including Stanford, USC and Washington reeling in big commitments and UCLA hosting impact prospects. Here is a look at some of the more impactful events of the past few days, as well as a glimpse of what this week could hold in the Pac-12.


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Best of the visits: Pac-12

December, 14, 2014
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The final weekend before the month-long dead period saw a number of official visitors on Pac-12 campuses. Here is a look at those trips through the eyes of the recruits on social media.

Hollywood in Westwood

UCLA hosted ESPN 300 prospect Malik Jefferson and four-star athlete DeAndre McNeal from Texas, and the Lone Star State prospects were introduced to life in Los Angeles via an encounter with actress Kerry Washington. While McNeal tweeted about the meeting, Jefferson, the nation's No. 35 recruit, snapped a picture of his mother meeting the actress.
The visitors to UCLA were also treated to a basketball game at Pauley Pavilion, from where McNeal delivered this tweet. The Bruins have made their presence felt in Texas the past few years and grabbing commitments from these two would send a significant message about head coach Jim Mora's recruiting momentum.

UCLA also hosted wide receiver commit L.J. Reed on his official visit. Cal's big weekend

From the looks of the photo tweeted by Cal quarterback Ross Bowers, the Golden Bears hosted at least nine official visitors this weekend. The Golden Bears have 15 commitments with room for several more. Bowers was joined on the trip by juco defensive end and Washington State commit DeVante Wilson, Duke commit and dual-threat quarterback DePriest Turner and tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe, among others. Utes host local linebacker

It's a big year for talent in Utah and the Utes look like they'll miss out on the three big ESPN 300 prospect in state -- Andre James, Osa Masina and Porter Gustin. After losing a commitment from four-star offensive tackle Branden Bowen, it'll be important for Utah to land several in-state prospects, as they have just one commitment from any of the top-10 prospects in Utah.

This past weekend, the Utes hosted linebacker Christian Folau -- a former Stanford commit -- and are among the top three programs for him. Trojans chasing Ross

USC gained a significant commitment from ESPN 300 tight end Tyler Petite on Friday, then hosted a trio of recruits over the weekend, including ESPN 300 athlete Ykili Ross. Capable of playing cornerback or safety, Ross looks to be a primary target for USC head coach Steve Sarkisian down the stretch. The Trojans also brought in athletic director Pat Haden during the trip. Buffs bring in commits

After an impressive showing last weekend that eventually netted two commitments, Colorado posted another big weekend, with a number of verbal commitments making the trip. ESPN 300 lineman Timmy Lynott is the most important commitment in Colorado's class, and was on hand. The Buffs also received an official visit from four-star running back Donald Gordon, who appeared to very much enjoy the trip.

Scout's Take: TE Tyler Petite to USC 

December, 12, 2014
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USC has swiped Under Armour All-American tight end Tyler Petite from Duke. Continue reading to see what Petite adds to USC's 2015 class:


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ESPN 300 TE Tyler Petite flips to USC 

December, 12, 2014
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USC coach Steve Sarkisian secured a verbal commitment at a key position on Friday when ESPN 300 tight end Tyler Petite flipped his commitment from Duke to the Trojans.

 

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Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

December, 12, 2014
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It's the last opportunity for college coaches to host official visitors before the month-long dead period begins Monday, and Pac-12 campuses will be full of top prospects this weekend. Virtually every Pac-12 program is hosting an important weekend, with ESPN 300 prospects scheduled to visit at least four schools in the conference.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

December, 9, 2014
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The Pac-12 North made for an intriguing recruiting weekend for the conference, as it lost a head coach, gained a handful of commitments and hosted the No. 5 prospect in the country. With the regular season finished, a greater emphasis on recruiting will be felt between now and signing day and the Pac-12 wasted little time making things interesting.


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Best of the visits: Pac-12

December, 7, 2014
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While Arizona and Oregon spent last week focused on battling for the Pac-12 title, several other conference teams were preparing to host significant recruiting weekends. Colorado, USC, Washington and Washington State all had a number of official visitors on hand, as the recruiting season ramped up another notch following the conclusion of the regular season. Here is a look at those visit weekends through the eyes of recruits on social media.

Buffs' weekend stampede

Colorado coaches made a dedicated push to bring in a number of uncommitted visitors -- along with a couple committed prospects -- in what turned out to be their biggest recruiting weekend of the year thus far. Buff commits Lausii Sewell and T.J. Fehoko were in attendance and looked to help the coaches make headway with ESPN 300 defensive end Mika Tafua, along with junior college prospect Afolabi Laguda and linebacker Gabe Sewell.

It's never easy to make a recruiting trip all the way out from Hawaii, and Tafua -- along with Utah commit Tuli Wily-Matagi -- definitely took a red-eye out to visit Colorado.
For several other commitments, donning the jerseys and checking out the locker room proved to be a high point. Cougars stock up on juco defenders

Washington State landed commitments from four junior college teammates this weekend. It started with cornerback Treshon Broughton, who flipped his commitment from Oregon State. The Cougars then hosted DeVante Wilson, Jonah Moi and Jeremiah Mitchell on official visits and landed commitments from all three. The Cougars also had defensive end Mufi Hunt on campus for an official visit. Hunt has offers or interest from a number of Pac-12 programs, but his connection to several members of the Washington State staff is strong. Huskies host prospects

Across the state, Washington played host to several official visitors as well. Two-way standout Octavius Spencer has seen his recruitment take off following his senior season, as Cal, Oregon, UCLA and Washington have now all offered. This past weekend, Spencer took his official visit to see the Huskies. Also at Washington this past weekend was a very interesting visitor, in ESPN 300 running back Austin Joyner. The standout running back and cornerback initially committed to the previous staff of the Huskies, but eventually pulled back when Steve Sarkisian and company left for USC. Joyner then made a commitment to Washington State, but took that back when two Cougars defensive coaches were let go. The visit to Washington this past weekend will be followed by a trip to Boise State this coming weekend. While the Cougars are still in the mix for Joyner, this recruitment could get interesting, with several programs looking to land an ESPN 300 prospect who could play on either side of the ball. Big weekend for Trojans

USC didn't receive official visits from ESPN 300 prospects Christian Kirk or Porter Gustin, which had been planned, but the Trojans did get six official visitors on campus this past weekend -- four of them from uncommitted prospects.

The farthest traveler was ESPN 300 athlete Terry Godwin, the nation's No. 38 prospect, who shared this photo from inside the Coliseum. Also on hand was the nation's No. 24 juco prospect, wide receiver Isaac Whitney, who has USC among his final choices and will announce his decision on Dec. 18.

Pac-12's top recruiting visits 

December, 5, 2014
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The regular season might be over, but that just means the recruiting season will be heating up, and the Pac-12 will host at least two significant weekends. Also, the nation’s No. 5 overall prospect is scheduled to be on a Pac-12 campus this weekend

Colorado


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Jordan Howard rushed for 1,600 yards at UAB this season, and now that the program has been shuttered, recruiters are lining up to get his transfer. Plus, with the Brady Hoke news, Michigan lost four-star tight end commitment Chris Clark. So where do recruits think he’ll end up?


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

December, 2, 2014
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Rivalry weekend in the Pac-12 meant big official visit weekends for a number of conference teams, while two junior college prospects announced their commitments to Pac-12 programs on Sunday night. The Pac-12 will also witness more than a few assistant coaching changes this offseason -- no different than any other year, or any other conference -- and those moves could bring with them some significant movement among committed and uncommitted recruits.


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Best of the visits: Pac-12

November, 30, 2014
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From USC’s bounce-back win over Notre Dame, to a Territorial Cup victory, to a big visitor list on the Palouse, recruits were in attendance at the Pac-12’s rivalry games this past weekend and shared their experiences through social media.

Trojans' time to shine

After suffering a significant defeat at the Rose Bowl last weekend, as UCLA took control of Los Angeles in front of dozens of local recruits, USC needed a big performance against Notre Dame on Saturday. Five out-of-state official visitors were in attendance, along with a number of local unofficial visitors from the 2015 and 2016 classes.

Defensive tackle Tim Settle, the nation’s No. 17 prospect, made his way across the country and provided his view of the Staples Center from his hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
The Trojans also received official visits from No. 171 prospect Donte Jackson and No. 94 prospect Osa Masina, who arrived in Los Angeles along with his family. There was a strong Utah presence at the game, as ESPN 300 athlete Porter Gustin was scheduled to be in attendance on an unofficial visit, and 2016 wide receiver Simi Fehoko -- who already holds offers from Clemson and Utah and could wind up as one of the state's most highly recruited prospects next year -- tweeted that he was in attendance as well. Of course, it wouldn't be a USC game without ESPN 300 quarterback, and USC commit, Ricky Town on hand. Town was joined by fellow ESPN 300 prospect and Trojans commitment Chuma Edoga, along with 2016 ESPN 300 prospects Frank Martin II and Javon McKinley in this photo. Martin II and McKinley will be interesting prospects to keep an eye on for next season, as both put together tremendous junior seasons and have been reeling in offers. Martin already holds offers from Arkansas, LSU, Miami and Syracuse, nationally, along with several Pac-12 offers. McKinley is part of a terrific 2016 class of receivers in California, and holds offers from Arizona State, Cal, UCLA and Washington State. While an offer from USC might not finish the recruiting process for either, it could prove to be big down the line.

The Trojans also hosted ESPN 300 wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown on an unofficial visit. St. Brown is looking hard at Notre Dame and Utah, as well as USC. Cats get Territorial

Arizona will begin to put together more significant official visit weekends after the season, but the Wildcats had several unofficial visitors on hand for their biggest game of the season -- a rivalry game that clinched a spot in the conference championship game.

Offensive tackle Keenan Walker, the No. 48 prospect in the country and an Arizona commitment, was at the game and took a moment to send a simple message to the in-state rival.

Ducks win the war

Oregon walked away with a win in the Civil War, but Oregon State hopes it did enough during the weekend to sway several important official visitors. In addition to committed quarterback James Pensyl, the Beavers hosted four-star running back Paul Lucas, three-star defensive tackle Benning Potoae and three-star wide receiver Lavan Alston on official visits. All four, along with several other visitors are featured in this tweet from Pensyl. Cougars with another big visit weekend

Washington State's season hasn't gone exactly the way the Cougars envisioned at the beginning of the year, but that hasn't stopped them from bringing in some big name official visitors during the season.

This past weekend, the Cougars had another ESPN 300 prospect on campus, as defensive tackle Adam McLean, a former Penn State commitment and the nation's No. 90 overall prospect, took his official visit.
USC recruiting is in need of a significant shot in the arm after the Trojans’ performance at the Rose Bowl this past weekend. But the good news for USC fans is that the Trojans are in position to do just that, thanks to a handful of significant visitors who will be in town to watch USC host Notre Dame.

This weekend presents a slight departure from USC’s official visit plans for the past few years. In fact, the five official visitors scheduled this weekend appear to be more than USC hosted on in-season official visits during the 2012, 2013 and 2014 recruiting classes combined.


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