Thursday, September 12, 2013
Class of 2014 candidates for USC offers
By Blair Angulo
The USC recruiting class fell out of the ESPN top-40 rankings last week with the decommitment of four-star defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central).
While verbal commitments from offensive linemen Jordan Austin (Claremont, Calif./Claremont), Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) and Jordan Poland (La Jolla, Calif./Country Day School) are as solid as they come, the Trojans will likely have to be successful on the field for the rest of this season to regain some recruiting momentum.
If the downward trend continues, though, some of the top local recruits will probably look elsewhere for their college options. With that in mind, here's a glance at 10 recruits from the Class of 2014 who could potentially pick up in-season offers and become bigger targets for the Trojans:
CB Naijiel Hale (Bellflower, Calif./Saint John Bosco) -- With five of his teammates holding USC offers, the Arizona commit might feel like the odd man out at this point. But the Trojans have begun to show increased interest in the three-star prospect lately. Along with Hale, Boise State receiver commit Shay Fields Jr. is a Bosco standout to keep tabs on.
QB Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade) -- With former target Keller Chryst (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto) in the rearview mirror, USC could turn to a local option if assistant coach Clay Helton decides to go after a 2014 signal caller. Kaaya remains solidly committed to Miami (Fla.), but he grew up a Trojans fan and recently visited campus.
CB Jonathan Lockett (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) -- Much like Hale, Lockett showed very high interest in USC earlier this year but never landed the coveted offer. He committed to Washington, but it’s difficult to imagine that preventing USC from pursuing the best player on one of the best teams in Orange County.
DT Ainuu Taua (Lompoc, Calif./Lompoc) -- The recent decommitment of four-star defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central) could open the door for Taua, one of the most impressive prospects at The Opening this summer. The 6-foot, 293-pound lineman held his own against some very good competition, but concerns over his height appear to be the primary roadblock.
CB Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial) -- Fisher said he has maintained steady contact with assistant coach Tee Martin since the spring, when he burst onto the scene while playing for a B2G Elite secondary that included Lockett, Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Marvell Tell (Encino, Calif./Crespi) in the passing league circuit. Fisher is committed to UCLA, but things would get interesting if the Trojans came calling.
CB Armand Perry (Las Vegas/Bishop Gorman) -- The Arizona State commit attended the USC home opener and said he will keep his options open moving forward, especially if the coaching staff continues to show interest. Given the high need for cornerbacks in this recruiting class, it might only be a matter of time until Perry and others receive good news.
TE Patrick Green (Turlock, Calif./Turlock) -- In the event that the Trojans miss out on top tight end priorities Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) and Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada), Green could get a serious look. USC didn’t sign a tight end in last year’s class, so there is a big need if Randall Telfer and Xavier Grimble leave for the NFL.
WR Alex Van Dyke (Elk Grove, Calif./Cosumnes Oaks) -- There has been mutual interest for some time, but USC didn’t offer after the tall and rangy receiver tripped to Los Angeles for Camp Kiffin this summer. That could change when a portion of three-star prospect’s senior film gets out.
ATH Marquis Ware (Los Angeles/Salesian) -- The Arizona commit has shown plenty of versatility at the high school level and could line up at linebacker or tight end in college. USC went after Ware’s former teammate Jermaine Kelly (Washington) too late in the 2013 cycle, so there is little room for error here.