Monday, October 14, 2013
Recruiting notebook: USC going local
By Blair Angulo
The recent flurry of local offers began last week when USC reached out to three-star receiver Shay Fields Jr. (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and three-star cornerback Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial).
This, of course, was after the commitment from three-star safety Uchenna Nwosu (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne). The trend continued on Friday night with an offer for three-star defensive end Olajuwon Tucker (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and again Sunday with unheralded offensive lineman Chris Brown (Los Angeles/Loyola) and three-star receiver Jordan Lasley (Gardena, Calif./Serra) picking up offers.
The recruiting strategy under interim head coach Ed Orgeron is clear: go local and trust the evaluation. The Trojans might have waited a bit too long to pursue Los Angeles-based prospects when Lane Kiffin was at the helm, but Orgeron and other staff members appear set on changing that.
Offensive line coach Mike Summers was in attendance as Loyola knocked off Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany on Friday. Less than 48 hours later, Brown had an offer from his childhood favorite.
“I was very excited,” Brown said. “Having an opportunity to play football for the Trojans and to get a USC education is a blessing. I am very grateful. ... Tee Martin has been recruiting me. I’ve only spoken to him a couple of times, but I like him a lot. It wasn’t too much of a surprise for me, because I’ve been talking to them and they seemed very interested.”
Brown visited campus on Sunday to watch the Trojans prepare for their upcoming game against Notre Dame. He intends to make a decision within the next month, and USC appears to be the favorite to land the 6-foot-6, 290-pound prospect. He also has offers from San Diego State and Washington State.
The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Tucker, meanwhile, had long been rumored to be gaining attention from the staff, but was surprised by the offer after Orgeron and Martin were at his game in North Hollywood on Friday night.
“I was kind of shocked,” Tucker said. “Right now I’m overwhelmed with emotion. This does a lot for my recruitment. USC is definitely No. 1 right now, but I will make a decision when it feels right. I know I’m officially visiting Washington State on Nov. 26, and UCLA and Virginia have also been recruiting me more and more. Coach O and Coach Tee told me they like my size and awareness. It feels good to know I have been showcasing my skills and they are being noticed.”
Lasley, who committed to UCLA in late June, shined at USC’s Rising Stars Camp but did not immediately bag an offer, as he patiently waited for final word from Kiffin. He has never hidden being a USC fan, though, and he has a close friend on the team now in freshman receiver Darreus Rogers, whom Lasley played with at Carson (Calif.) High School two years ago.
• Just hours after landing an offer on Thursday, Fisher made his way to the Coliseum and saw the Trojans capture a victory against Arizona in Orgeron’s first game. Nothing has changed with his commitment to UCLA, but Fisher was happy to know he has another local option. “The atmosphere was great,” Fisher said. “The players seemed very hyped and excited. The crowd was a good one, too. But I’m just showing love to other schools. I’m 100-percent Bruin.”
• Fields, who is committed to Boise State, also made the short drive to campus for Thursday night’s win. Television cameras captured he and 2015 receiver Cordell Broadus (Diamond Bar, Calif./Diamond Bar) shaking hands with Orgeron prior to the game. “It was an electric atmosphere and you could tell it was different than when Kiffin was there,” said Fields, who will officially visit Boise this weekend for the Broncos’ game against Nevada.
• Orgeron used a helicopter on Friday night to watch a couple of high school games. He made a stop at Corona Centennial to see defensive line commit Austin Maloata, but Cal running back commit Tre Watson might have also caught his attention. Watson rushed for 382 yards and three touchdowns in a victory against Norco. “They told me they will be calling me this week after they evaluate the film,” Watson said. The Trojans have whiffed on in-state running backs in this cycle, seeing Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom) drop them from consideration, and Royce Freeman (Imperial, Calif./Imperial) commit to Oregon.
• UCLA landed a commitment from three-star receiver Alex Van Dyke (Cosumnes Oaks, Calif./Elk Grove), whom USC assistant coach Clay Helton has been recruiting for some time but has yet to offer. It could have an interesting side effect in regards to top tight-end target Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure). Van Dyke became the second Y-receiver type in the Bruins’ class, joining four-star Austin Roberts (Carmel, Ind./Carmel). Add the fact that Thomas Duarte is contributing as a true freshman, and UCLA could have a logjam at Y-receiver, where Dixon would theoretically fit in that spread offense.