NCF On The Trail: Jaleel Wadood

Shifting power: Los Angeles 

January, 23, 2014
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It's tough to imagine one college football player changing the fortunes of his program and its closest rival over the course of more than a decade.

But that might just be the case with Reggie Bush, whose on-field actions helped USC become the dominant recruiting force in Southern California between 2006 and 2012, and whose off-field actions largely led to the NCAA taking 30 scholarships away from USC for the 2012-2014 seasons and creating a hole in the Southern California recruiting scene large enough for UCLA to climb through.

When the heavy sanctions were brought down upon USC in the summer of 2010, it was thought to be a now-or-never situation for UCLA. The Trojans were 10-1 in the previous 11 games against the Bruins and had the virtual first pick of just about any recruit in the region.

Notebook: USC commits win state 

December, 23, 2013
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CARSON, Calif. -- USC receiver commit Shay Fields (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) looked up to the StubHub Center bleachers Saturday night and shook his head in disbelief.

The three-star prospect had just helped St. John Bosco capture the CIF State Open Division Bowl Game championship against mighty Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, and some of his teammates sat on the front-row ledge celebrating with their friends and family. As fellow USC commit Malik Dorton sat there holding the California-shaped wooden trophy, Fields reflected on the 12-month journey and could do nothing more than shake his head.

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Pac-12 weekend recruiting wrap 

December, 23, 2013
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All eyes were on the California state bowl games this past weekend, as five contests pitted teams from Southern California against Northern California. And although recruiting took something of a backseat to the final games of the season, there was some noise made in the Pac-12 conference, including a quarterback shakeup that could continue to play out down the line.


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Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

December, 18, 2013
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There's a new No. 1 team in the Pac-12, according to the updated team rankings released on Wednesday.

Arizona State made the biggest jump of any team in the rankings, leaping from No. 22 to No. 17 overall, and in the process, bypassing Arizona, which moved from No. 18 to No. 19.

Six Pac-12 teams are now in the rankings, with the addition of USC at No. 39. Stanford fell back one spot to No. 26, due to Penn State's rise, while Oregon remains at No. 29, and UCLA rounds out the rankings at No. 40.

Trending up: Red and gold in the Pac-12 South.

Sure, it's not really red for either program, but whether it's the maroon of Arizona State or the cardinal of USC, those two programs shined on the recruiting trail this past week. Few teams anywhere are as hot as Arizona State, which added six commitments --including two four-stars -- in past week. The haul featured three defensive linemen, two running backs and an offensive tackle. But if any Pac-12 program can challenge the Sun Devils over that same period, it's USC, which added three four-star commitments and a three-star cornerback since last Wednesday. The Trojans are the newest Pac-12 program to appear in the updated class rankings, as USC checks in at No. 39.

Even though those two programs have been hot over the past week, it seems slightly unfair to leave this category without mentioning the fact that a case could be made for virtually every Pac-12 program. Arizona, California, Colorado, Utah, Washington and Washington State all received verbal commitments from important recruits over the past week, in what was an incredibly successful seven days for Pac-12 coaches on the recruiting trail and hosting official visitors.


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When the scholarship offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA and Washington began to roll in for three-star cornerback Jonathan Lockett (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), he wondered if childhood favorite USC would join the chase before it was too late.

Wanting to make a decision before the start of his senior season, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound prospect committed to the Huskies in late June. The presence of defensive backs coach Keith Heyward was also a major selling point, so when he accompanied head coach Steve Sarkisian to USC, Lockett knew he had to step back and re-assess the situation.

The USC possibility materialized late last week, when Heyward extended Lockett a scholarship offer. The local two-way standout didn’t need much time to mull it over, as he verbally committed to USC on Wednesday night.


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Pac-12 class rankings analysis 

December, 11, 2013
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The Pac-12 now has four schools in the updated recruiting class rankings for the Class of 2014, as UCLA took over the No. 5 spot in the conference and moved to No. 40 overall. Arizona still paces the Pac-12, sitting at No. 18 overall, while Arizona State dropped a spot and now sits at No. 23, Stanford held steady at No. 25 and Oregon bumped up one position to No. 29.

Trending up: UCLA landed its second ESPN 300 prospect of the week on Tuesday, as athlete Jaleel Wadood (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) joined defensive tackle Ainuu Taua (Lompoc, Calif./Lompoc) in committing to the Bruins. In doing so, UCLA moved into the top 40 rankings. UCLA has plenty of momentum right now, especially after keeping coach Jim Mora and ace recruiters Demetrice Martin and Adrian Klemm. Adding running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu will only make UCLA stronger down the recruiting stretch, as ESPN 300 prospects Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./Saint Bonaventure), Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), Bishard "Budda" Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) and Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./Saint John Bosco) are very much in play.


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ESPN 300 athlete headed to Westwood 

December, 10, 2013
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For the second time this week, the UCLA Bruins added a Southern California ESPN 300 prospect to their 2014 recruiting class.

On Sunday, defensive tackle Ainuu Taua (Lompoc, Calif./Lompoc) pledged to UCLA. On Tuesday, another player followed suit.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

December, 9, 2013
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The Pac-12 conference has seen a flurry of action recently, with coaching news and rumors keeping recruits on their toes. Following a week where Steve Sarkisian took over at USC and Chris Petersen moved from Boise State to Washington, this past weekend was tame by comparison. But UCLA made some significant noise with a big commitment, while Oregon extended two intriguing offers. CIF championship games provided backdrops for huge performances from Pac-12 recruits, while the conference title tilt was only the appetizer in the battle between Arizona State and Stanford.


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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: Maybe the Bangles knew what they were talking about when they sang about how Mondays can be manic. The news that USC had hired Washington coach Steve Sarkisian shook up the recruiting world from coast to coast, and it’s just the first major bombshell that college football’s silly season will produce.

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The USC Trojans once again will dip into the past, as former Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian accepted an offer to take over the same position at USC, according to ESPN's Joe Schad. Sarkisian was an assistant coach with the Trojans from 2001-03, and then again from 2005-08.

Born in Torrance, Calif., and having attended West Torrance High School and El Camino Junior College, Sarkisian is very familiar with Southern California, and he recruited it well for both USC and Washington. Now, coming back home, the thought from coaches and recruits alike is that he will hit the ground running on the recruiting trail.


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Many of the area’s top recruits were on hand at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum where UCLA claimed a second consecutive victory over crosstown rival USC on Saturday night.

The long list included ESPN 300 prospects Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), as well as No. 1-rated tight end Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) and four-star linebacker Dwight Williams (Gardena, Calif./Serra).

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Not all regular season games are created equal on the recruiting trail, and while one game won't make or break a recruiting class, this weekend's showdown between UCLA and USC could come awfully close.

USC has dominated its series of late -- winning 12 of the last 14 years -- but in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately recruiting world, UCLA’s 38-28 win last season looms large. It caught the attention of recruits in the 2013, '14 and '15 classes and sent a message that the Jim Mora era with the Bruins was off and running.


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Recruits watching UCLA-USC 

November, 27, 2013
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It would probably be easier to come up with a list of 10 recruits who have no vested interest in watching UCLA travel across town to take on USC this weekend. Limiting this list to fewer than a dozen prospects doesn't do justice to just how many recruits in the 2014-2017 classes will have their eyes glued to the action at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Saturday night.

UCLA and USC still have a number of spots left to fill in their 2014 recruiting classes and they are aiming for the fences with local prospects. The 2015 class will also be affected by the outcome, and again, the tug-of-war between the two programs starts right at the top of the West region rankings. Here are a look at five 2014 recruits and five 2015 recruits who will be watching this game intently.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

November, 25, 2013
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The weekend didn't offer as much recruiting action in the Pac-12 as the hectic days of early last week, but there were still several commitments in the conference and a number of big performance's from Pac-12 programs and recruits. Despite Arizona State grabbing the most important win and sending a message to recruits across the region, UCLA was a big winner on the recruiting trail, getting a number of top prospects to the Rose Bowl and reeling in a commitment from a 2015 standout that ranks No. 1 at his position.


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The Pac-12 South title is on the line at the Rose Bowl this weekend as Arizona State travels to UCLA. With USC out of town, the Bruins have the city to themselves for recruiting purposes on Saturday and will welcome in several official visitors, including some standout unofficial visitors from the 2014 and 2015 classes. With both programs looking to fill and solidify impressive recruiting classes this year, this will be a significant opportunity to make an on-field statement. While dozens of recruits will likely be in attendance or watching on television, here are 10 who will be paying close attention to the game.

OT Chris Brown (Los Angeles/Loyola): The four-star offensive tackle has come on strong during his senior season and will be taking an official visit to UCLA, his third official after trips to Texas A&M and Oregon. Brown also holds an offer from USC and his recruitment could come down to the two local programs. It's an interesting situation for Brown. The Trojans' 2014 class already has four offensive linemen in it, while the Bruins have six true freshmen linemen that came in with the 2013 class. He'll get a good look at several of those this weekend as UCLA continues to showcase its true freshmen, which has been scoring big with the 2014 class.

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