NCF On The Trail: David Sills

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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
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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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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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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
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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
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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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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
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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
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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 Youth1.com and confirmed by ESPN.com.

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
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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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USC has held a verbal commitment from Class of 2015 quarterback David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) for more than three years, but that didn't prevent the Trojans from extending a scholarship offer to another signal-caller on Thursday.

Coach Lane Kiffin, who offered Sills as a seventh-grader, is now in the hunt for local standout Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), the No. 1-rated pocket passer in the ESPN Junior 300.


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HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif. -- For Class of 2015 quarterback Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), last month’s Rising Stars Camp served as an opportunity to measure himself against other highly-regarded prospects, including USC commit David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) and fellow Southern California-based standout Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure).

Rosen also chatted with quarterbacks coach Clay Helton about the possibility of a scholarship offer, which might arrive soon despite the fact that the Trojans already have Sills in the 2015 recruiting class. In the current recruiting cycle, Helton put all of his chips on No. 1-rated pocket passer Keller Chryst (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto), who committed to Stanford just prior to the Elite 11 finals, and further options appear scarce as the high school football season approaches.


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A look at the top five positions of need for USC in the 2014 class:

Cornerback

Adoree' Jackson
Erik McKinney/ESPNThe Trojans are hoping to add CB Adoree' Jackson as one of their in-state targets.
The Trojans added only one cornerback prospect in the 2013 class after missing on Jermaine Kelly (Washington) and Jalen Ramsey (Florida State) on national signing day, and the lack of depth at the position appears to be a glaring issue heading into fall camp. Simply put, history cannot repeat itself in this recruiting cycle. With in-state targets such as Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) still on the board, USC could potentially haul in a great group of cornerbacks. If the Trojans miss on one or both of those, they might pursue other Southern California-based corners such as Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial), Naijiel Hale (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Jonathan Lockett (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) and John Plattenburg (Corona, Calif./Centennial).


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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan’s summer football camp has always been a place for under-the-radar talent to be seen by the Wolverine coaching staff. Last summer, the camp produced an offer and commitment from 2013 cornerback Channing Stribling.

Last week, 2015 offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr. (Philadelphia/St. Joseph’s) turned his camp offer into a verbal commitment. And on Saturday, two more camp offers turned into commitments.

The Wolverines picked up commitments from high school teammates Brandon Watson (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) and Freddy Canteen (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy), Eastern Christian Academy coach Dwayne Thomas confirmed to ESPN.com via phone.

“When you put together the combination of athletics and academics together, for them, Michigan was a no-brainer,” Thomas said.

Canteen and Watson are the Wolverines 12th and 13th commitments in the 2014 class.

Watson will play exclusively as a cornerback for Michigan, so he’ll join Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic), the No. 1 CB in the nation, in Michigan’s secondary. Canteen is Michigan’s third wide receiver commitment, joining two in-state commitments -- Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) and Moe Ways (Beverly Hills, Mich./Detroit Country Day).

Eastern Christian Academy is not the typical high school. It has produced several top recruits, including 2015 USC quarterback commit David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy), but it doesn’t have a typical high school foundation.

It lacks “any traditional school components, such as a building or full-time faculty” and is “partnered with National Connections, a nationally accredited online institution, to design and administer courses for the students,” according to a September 2012 Washington Post article.

So while the headquarters for Eastern Christian Academy is in Maryland, the two boys are actually from Delaware, which has been a reason why the two prospects haven’t had a ton of attention, according to their coach.

“Being that we’re from Delaware, a lot of coaches don’t get a chance to see them in the spring because there is no spring football,” Thomas said. “So as they get out and get to camps, schools get a chance to see what their talent is.”

Canteen chose Michigan over offers from Hawaii, Maryland and Rutgers, while Watson picked the Wolverines over Boston College, Connecticut, Rutgers and Temple.

However, Thomas believes the two were under-recruited and will excel at Michigan under the tutelage of secondary coach Curt Mallory and wide receiver coach Jeff Hecklinski.

“Freddy Canteen is, in my opinion, the best route-runner in the country. I think every camp that he goes to, people get a chance to find that out,” Thomas said. “And Brandon has this unique combination of speed, strength and hip flexibility that will allow him to be physical with the big receivers, and he’s agile enough to run and defend the smaller receivers as well.”

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