NCF On The Trail: David Sills

This was a turnaround year both on the field and on the recruiting trail for West Virginia. The Mountaineers showed a lot of progress in the Big 12 and have put together a top 25 class that has a shot at getting better as we move toward signing day.

Big 12 recruiting scorecard

October, 13, 2014
Here’s the latest around the Big 12 on the recruiting trail this week:

Total commits: 12
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Several recruits were on hand to watch the Bears’ 61-58 victory over TCU, including Gilmer, Texas, athlete Blake Lynch, a current Baylor commit. He is one of four commitments who are considered four-star prospects.

Total commits: 11
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: Junior college defensive end Larry Jefferson committed to Iowa State after a weekend visit. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound prospect flipped from a previous commitment to West Virginia after watching the Cyclones knock off Toledo 37-30 during homecoming weekend.

Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Jayhawks landed a commitment from Class of 2016 running back Aubrey White. The highly regarded White spurned offers from Oklahoma, TCU, Arkansas, Nebraska and others to pledge to Kansas. It will be interesting to see how KU’s coaching situation impacts White’s recruitment before February 2016.

Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: The Wildcats reportedly offered Class of 2016 athlete A.J. Taylor from Kansas City (Missouri) Rockhurst. It’s the first offer for the 5-foot-11, 185-pound prospect.

Total commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 6
The latest: The Sooners reportedly offered Class of 2016 defensive end Amani Bledsoe. The three-star prospect from Lawrence (Kansas) High School also has offers from Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and others.

Total commits: 13
ESPN 300 commits: 4
The latest: Solidifying the safety position has been a clear focus for the Cowboys during this recruiting cycle. ESPN 300 safety Kevin Henry joins Kenneth McGruder and Za’Carrius Green to give Oklahoma State three safety commitments who are rated 78 or higher by ESPN Scouts Inc.

Total commits: 16
ESPN 300 commits: 0
The latest: All 16 of TCU’s current commitments are from Texas but the Horned Frogs, surprisingly, have not secured a member of the ESPN 300 and four-star receiver J.F. Thomas is the lone commitment with more than three stars. TCU has signed at least one member of the ESPN 300 in every class since 2011.

Total commits: 17
ESPN 300 commits: 8
The latest: The Longhorns reportedly offered Class of 2016 prospect Derrick Brown. The Sugar Hill (Georgia) Lanier defensive tackle is the No. 141 player in the ESPN Junior 300.

Total commits: 10
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: It was a disappointing weekend on the field, but things could be looking up as the Red Raiders hosted several recruits, including elite receiver Tyron Johnson, the No. 24 player in the ESPN 300. Johnson tweeted that he enjoyed his Tech visit and would be a huge get for Kliff Kingsbury’s squad if he picks Tech. The four-star prospect from New Orleans Warren Easton has a large list of offers, including Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Alabama, Auburn and others.

Total commits: 21
ESPN 300 commits: 3
The latest: Dana Holgorsen’s squad leads the entire Big 12 in total commits with 21. Quarterback David Sills is easily the Mountaineers' most interesting commitment. You might remember him as the player who committed to Lane Kiffin and USC when he was in a 13-year-old in the seventh grade. He decommited from the Trojans earlier this year and plans to enroll at West Virginia in January.

Early Offer: Tate Martell makes his mark 

September, 3, 2014
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting news across the country. Today’s offerings: A lot of eyebrows were raised when class of 2017 quarterback Tate Martell committed to Washington, but he proved this past Friday night he’s the real deal. Plus, Oklahoma won’t only be hosting Tennessee next weekend, but the Sooners are also expected to bring in more than 13 impact recruits on official visits. We also continue our tour of the top recruiting happenings on social media.

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USC recruiting shakeup at QB

June, 30, 2014
After weeks of speculation and rumors, there was a defined shift in the Trojans' recruiting focus at the quarterback position for the Class of 2015 this past weekend when it was reported that Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy's David Sills had officially decommitted from USC, and head coach Steve Sarkisian had followed that up by extending an offer to Sam Darnold of San Clemente (Calif.).

[+] EnlargeSam Darnold
Tom Hauck for Student SportsSam Darnold, the No. 5 ranked pocket-passer in the ESPN 300, recently received a USC offer.
The news that Sills, who was one of two quarterbacks locked up for the Trojans along with Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure's Ricky Town, had decided to break ties with USC didn't exactly come as a surprise. Former Trojans head coach Lane Kiffin made national headlines when he extended an offer to Sills in February of 2010 -- when he was in seventh grade. After immediately committing, the young signal-caller developed a strong rapport with Kiffin and his staff, making it a routine to visit the campus each spring.

Once Kiffin was let go in September of 2013, however, and Sarkisian came in as his replacement following the season, Sills' fate with the Trojans looks to have been sealed. Even though Sills unofficially visited the USC campus recently and offensive coordinator Clay Helton watched Sills work out in Maryland during the May evaluation period, the 6-foot-3 passer never developed the kind of relationship with the new coaching staff that he had with the prior regime.

And with Sarkisian quickly securing a verbal commitment from Town in late January, along with talk abounding that the Trojans were looking closely at other quarterback prospects as well, the writing seemed to be on the wall.

While Sills' departure wasn't a revelation, USC's targeting of Darnold is to a certain extent. Anaheim (Calif.) Servite's Travis Waller -- the No. 6 ranked dual-threat quarterback -- has been a hot name this summer, and someone whom the Trojans staff was known to have been evaluating as of late. Standing 6-foot-3 and 188 pounds, he's expected to announce his commitment to a school on Tuesday, with Oregon, Notre Dame, Northwestern and Ohio State looking like the primary contenders. The Trojans are not among the schools that have extended an offer his way, however, and Waller opted to forgo an opportunity to perform in front of the USC staff last week at the Rising Stars Camp.

That appears to be one factor that played a role in Darnold -- who attended USC's 7-on-7 Camp, and was said to have shined -- ultimately landing an offer. And there is certainly plenty more to like about the 6-foot-4, 209-pound passer. Selected to participate in the 2014 Elite 11 Finals in early July along with Town and Waller, he's the No. 89 ranked prospect overall in the ESPN 300, and he's the No. 5 ranked pocket-passer. And despite that label, Darnold is a fantastic all-around athlete who can also do quite a bit of damage on the ground. As a junior he was only able to play in two-and-a-half games for San Clemente due to a broken foot, but he still put up solid numbers, completing 63 percent of his passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions, while also rushing for 322 yards (9.2 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. Also a standout basketball player, he would appear to be a perfect fit in USC's new up-tempo offensive attack.

But the Trojans aren't alone in their pursuit of the SoCal passer. Like Waller, Darnold's stock has risen dramatically this offseason, and he currently holds over 10 offers, including one from Oregon that he received after one of their prime targets, Corona (Calif.) Santiago's Blake Barnett, recently committed to Alabama. Darnold was actually on an unofficial visit to the Ducks' campus when he got word of the USC offer. As a childhood Trojans fan who resides in a region of Southern California known for producing USC quarterbacks, it's safe to say that it has shaken things up for Darnold in a big way.

Also considering Utah and Northwestern among others, Darnold is expected to announce a decision at some point in the very near future, and if he ultimately chooses to commit to the Trojans, expect Sarkisian & Co. to shut down recruiting at the QB spot for the Class of 2015 for good. But if he opts to go elsewhere, it will be interesting to see what direction the staff goes next.

Early Offer: The Dinkelmann dilemma 

February, 24, 2014

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: Almost every recruiter will tell you he’s against the idea of offering middle-school prospects. But when a “can’t-miss prospect” comes along, the rules of the game suddenly change, as they did with Zadock Dinkelmann.

Dinkelmann’s going to be different

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Revisiting USC's 2014 resolutions 

February, 10, 2014
Shortly after the calendar flipped to 2014, we presented five possible New Year’s resolutions for USC recruiting and new head coach Steve Sarkisian.

Here they are again, with accompanying retrospective analysis that indicates how much the Trojans truly accomplished in the month leading up to national signing day:

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USC gets relief with Town commitment 

January, 25, 2014
For USC head coach Steve Sarkisian, this weekend was supposed to be about sealing the deal with some top targets who were officially visiting campus, but it quickly transformed into so much more.

Most of the focus centered on a group of highly touted prospects from the 2014 class, including John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), as the Trojans hosted a large group of recruits with less than two weeks remaining until national signing day. Yet, the buzz shifted toward the future as Sarkisian reached into the 2015 class to make perhaps his biggest splash since arriving from Washington, securing a verbal commitment from Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure), the No. 2-rated pocket passer who decommitted from Alabama earlier in the day.

Consider it a major coup for USC, which made Town its top priority at quarterback and managed to flip him in a short period of time.

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Trojans host top 2015 QB Town again 

January, 25, 2014

National signing day for the Class of 2014 is less than two weeks away, but the USC Trojans might have received some great news on Saturday in regards to next year's class.

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USC's recruiting resolutions for 2014 

December, 31, 2013
A new year usually brings new aspirations. But in the recruiting world, hanging up a new calendar signifies the final stretch. It’s the beginning of the end.

[+] EnlargeAdoree Jackson
Miller Safrit/ESPN.comNo. 7 overall Adoree Jackson would be a big get for USC's coaching staff.
With national signing day just six weeks away, we take a quick glance at potential New Year’s resolutions for USC recruiting:

1. Sign an elite prospect

USC fans want both Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) to become Trojans, but either one would do, really. Whereas the 2013 class had the likes of Su’a Cravens and Max Browne as headliners, the current group lacks similar star power. ESPN 300 members Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) are no slouches, but Jackson and Smith would certainly take the class to the next level. New head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff would like nothing more than to finish strong heading into spring practice and the ever-important 2015 recruiting cycle.

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USC, UCLA differ in recruiting strategy 

November, 29, 2013
When USC enters the Coliseum Saturday to take on crosstown rival UCLA, it will do so with some of the area’s top recruits looking intently from the stands, many of which hold scholarship offers from both schools.

Some had to wait longer than others for the option to attend college nearby. More often than not in recent years, UCLA has been quicker than USC in sending out offers to mutual targets. In fact, of the 12 in-state prospects from the 2015 class that the Trojans have already offered, only four-star offensive tackle Zach Robertson (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) added USC to his list of suitors before the Bruins joined the chase.

Yet USC’s recruiting efforts are not necessarily harmed by this seemingly cautious approach. UCLA beat USC in offering the likes of Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial), Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), but the Trojans added them to their recruiting class nonetheless.

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Window gets foggy for USC pledge Sills 

October, 8, 2013
There might not be a recruit that could be more affected by the firing of Lane Kiffin than USC quarterback commit David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy), whom Kiffin famously offered when he was only 13.

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#AskLoogs: QB Sills and USC

September, 2, 2013
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation senior analyst Tom Luginbill a question about your team? Tweet it to @TomLuginbill using the hashtag #AskLoogs.

This is a great question and one that is not only a reflection of the USC situation, but also a warning in general about all programs who choose to extend offers to 12- or 13-year-old prospects. Here’s the problem: There are very few, if any, no-brainers at 17 years old, so imagine what a gamble a 13-year-old is, which was David Sills’ age was when he committed to USC after being offered by Lane Kiffin and Co.

No one has a crystal ball. At 13, you don’t know how much a prospect will grow, what his work ethic will be like and more. There are way too many unknowns to be able to make an accurate projection. Also, Sills is not the physical freak Da'Quan Bowers was when he was offered by Clemson in the eighth grade. This was my concern all along with Sills. While he has been well groomed, well coached and trained to be technically sound, he has always lacked ideal height and never been a wowed in terms of pure arm talent. So now the dilemma begins for USC and Kiffin, and it couldn’t come at a worse time considering the 2015 class of quarterbacks in California alone is very strong. The likes of Ricky Town, Josh Rosen, Kevin Dillman, Brady White and Kyle Kearns, among others, are going to force USC to make some tough decisions. Part of me feels Kiffin extended this offer in part just to create buzz and attention for the program -- and it did that -- but reality is now hitting. If there are other options out there, USC is going to have to decide if Sills is the best of those options and I feel we know the answer to that question.

Virginia offers 2018 QB prospect

August, 28, 2013
Tyler DeSue hasn't started his final year of middle school yet, but he's already attracting major-college interest.

DeSue, a Class of 2018 prospect, is reportedly the latest in a recent trend of middle-schoolers who have received a college football scholarship offer. The 5-foot-11, 155-pound quarterback recently earned an offer from Virginia, as was first reported by and confirmed by

Clearly, the Cavaliers are high on his current skills and his ability to develop as a player. For schools, there is little downside to offering early: neither the offer nor the commitment is binding. Offering extra early is merely the latest way for schools to get in early with players they believe could become big-time prospects. USC made headlines by offering QB David Sills an offer as a seventh-grader, but the Trojans are not alone. LSU and Alabama are among the programs that extended offers to then-eighth grader Dylan Moses.

Such an early offer from a school like Virginia is uncommon, considering the academic standards in Charlottesville. DeSue has yet to record a single high school credit.

Whether the early offer phenomenon pays off for schools remains to be seen. But there seems to be no slowing coaches looking for the next playmaker.

Summer recruit wrap: USC 

July, 23, 2013
USC has seven verbal commitments in its 2014 class as the recruiting cycle rolls into August. Here are 10 things we’ve learned from the camps and events on the summer recruiting circuit:

Serious competition for five-star prospect

USC might have been the early favorite to land five-star athlete Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), given the pipeline it has established with his high school, but that’s no longer the case as several national programs are vying for his signature. The dynamic playmaker recently took an unofficial visit to Tennessee and is set to check out a few other schools in the Midwest when he takes a trip to his native Illinois later this summer. He is also intrigued by Florida and LSU, and UCLA presents a local challenge for the Trojans as well. Jackson wants to play some receiver in college, similarly to how De’Anthony Thomas has been used at Oregon, so look for that to become a major factor moving forward.

Trojans still need a 2014 quarterback

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USC's recruitment of quarterbacks in the current recruiting cycle might be in disarray, but that hasn't prevented the Trojans from looking beyond this year's class.

In fact, not even a longtime verbal commitment from Class of 2015 quarterback David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) kept USC from extending scholarship offers to two local standouts on Thursday. First, No. 1-rated signal-caller Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) received the call from coaches Lane Kiffin and Clay Helton. Later in the day, ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) got the same.

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