NCF On The Trail: Lamont Simmons

Signing day wrap: Pac-12

February, 5, 2014
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While it was a terrific day for the Pac-12 overall, USC stole the signing day spotlight on Wednesday, hitting for the cycle in landing its top four targets.

The day began well for new coach Steve Sarkisian, as three-star cornerback Lamont Simmons (Jacksonville, Fla./Raines) faxed over his signature, but that was only an appetizer for the Trojans. With 19 scholarships available this year -- NCAA sanctions limited the Trojans to just 15 scholarships in this class and USC was able to roll four unused rides over from the 2013 class -- Simmons took the class to 16. Left on the board were a trio of Southern California ESPN 300 prospects in No. 9 overall prospect, cornerback Adoree' Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), No. 24 overall prospect, athlete John "JuJu" Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and No. 67 overall prospect, offensive guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco).

[+] EnlargeJohn
Kelvin Kuo/USA TODAY SportsJohn "JuJu" Smith was part of a huge signing day for USC.
Sarkisian and the Trojans were able to land all three, giving USC one of the best signing days of any program in the country. The signings give USC 19 additions in the 2014 class, including nine ESPN 300 pledges, one ESPN JC 50 prospect and impact players on both sides of the ball. There is really no way to overstate how well Sarkisian and the Trojans closed on signing day, posting what amounted to a perfect day.

The Trojans wound up with the No. 1 class in the Pac-12, but the rankings in the conference were bunched at the top.

Stanford made a huge run late, landing commitments from all six recruits it targeted over the past two months. The Cardinal added signatures from ESPN 300 defensive end Solomon Thomas (Coppell, Tex./Coppell) -- at No. 25 overall, the highest rated Stanford addition since ESPN began its rankings in 2006 -- and three-star cornerback Terrence Alexander (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian). Though the Cardinal lost a late commitment from defensive end Uriah Leiataua (Compton, Calif./Dominguez), it was a very strong visit and a terrific class headed to the Farm.

Alexander wasn't the only recruit from John Curtis Christian to commit to the Pac-12, as Oregon and UCLA took their biggest commitments of the day from that program. The Ducks landed ESPN 300 safety Mattrell McGraw, while UCLA picked up its lone signing day commit in Kenny Young.

Oregon missed out on Smith and defensive tackle Trey Lealaimatafao (San Antonio/Earl Warren) but was able to land safety Khalil Oliver (Meridian, Id./Rocky Mountain) in a battle against Washington.

UCLA coaches will likely be disappointed with the day. Although the Bruins did reel in Young, UCLA missed on Thomas, No. 1 overall wide receiver Malachi Dupre (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian) and the Southern California trio, which made matters worse for Jim Mora & Co. by committing to the Trojans. UCLA brought a very good recruiting class into signing day and did a good job of holding onto everybody, but the Bruins took some big swings at some big prospects across the country and didn't get the results they were hoping for.

Arizona State slid a few spots in the national rankings, but the Sun Devils did everything they could on signing day. Todd Graham brought a relatively full class into the day and was able to add two huge signatures in ESPN JC 50 prospects defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey (De Funiak Springs, Fla./Pearl River CC) and cornerback Kweishi Brown (El Cajon, Calif./Grossmont). The Sun Devils were also able to hold onto another junior college standout in wide receiver Eric Lauderdale (Fayetteville, Ga./Saddleback College), who received a significant late push from Florida.

Arizona was relatively quiet. The Wildcats brought in a huge list of verbal commitments and didn't lose anybody off the top of the class, landing five ESPN 300 prospects. Defensive tackle Marcus Griffin (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue) was the big addition, as the big lineman selected Arizona over Cal, Mississippi State and Washington State.

Oregon State grabbed a signature from offensive guard Kammy Delp (Pomona, Calif./Diamond Ranch), who will play defensive tackle for the Beavers. Utah announced defensive tackle Lowell Lotulelei (South Jordan, Utah/Bingham) as a part of this class after he attempted to sign with the Utes in 2013.

Washington's big addition came Tuesday night in the form of ESPN 300 safety Bishard "Budda" Baker (Bellevue, Wash./Bellevue), but Chris Petersen and the Huskies also received a signing day commitment from intriguing 6-foot-5 receiver Brayden Lenius (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade). The Washington State Cougars closed with their second four-star commitment in this class, safety Deion Singleton (Paco, Wash./Chiawana).

But the day in the West belonged to USC, which jumped from No. 4 in the conference to landing the Pac-12's top 2014 recruiting class. Nationally, the Trojans moved from No. 24 to No. 15 overall.

Stanford (15th), Arizona State (21st) and Arizona (23rd) all finished among the top 25 recruiting classes in the nation.

Trojans capitalize on big weekend 

January, 27, 2014
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ESPN 300 prospects Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) might have headlined the list of official visitors who spent the weekend at USC, but it was a pair of teammates from Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure who stole the spotlight.

Class of 2015 quarterback Ricky Town verbally committed to the Trojans on Saturday night, just hours after decommitting from Alabama, and No. 1-rated tight end Bryce Dixon re-affirmed his pledge on Sunday morning, capping a monstrous weekend that put USC in great shape with national signing day just over a week away.

Eleven recruits set to visit USC 

January, 23, 2014
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The mother of all recruiting weekends has arrived for the USC Trojans.

With less than two weeks remaining until national signing day, seven members of the ESPN 300 are expected to be on campus beginning Friday. Head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff hope these visits lead to success on Feb. 5.

Heading into the weekend, the Trojans have four empty slots in their 2014 recruiting class.

Here are the expected visitors:

No. 3 ATH John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly): The four-star prospect recently narrowed his list to a final four of Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA and USC, but the Trojans have to believe they are in the lead. Smith dropped by USC last week and, while wearing a Trojans jersey, posed for photographs that have gone viral on social media and message boards. He is being recruited at receiver by the staff, including his uncle Johnny Nansen, but Smith said he wants to sit down with defensive backs coach Keith Heyward this weekend, too. The Trojans have an opportunity to seal the deal.


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Coinciding with the emotional departure of fan favorite Ed Orgeron just over a month ago, the naming of Steve Sarkisian as USC’s new head coach wasn’t initially met with what you’d call universal enthusiasm. With what he’s accomplished on the recruiting trail in his short time back on campus, however, it’s hard not to be impressed.

Hitting the ground running from the moment he took the job, Sarkisian and the rest of his staff have done a stellar job of not only targeting some elite blue-chippers in the 2014 class -- such as recent tight end commit Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) -- he's also recognizing quality prospects who, though not necessarily possessing a five-star rating, are more than capable of filling a vital need. That’s something that former coach Lane Kiffin didn’t always appear to make a priority, choosing instead to chase high-profile superstars at any, and all costs.


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A recent string of commitments heading into the dead period has left USC with only five remaining slots in its 2014 recruiting class. The Trojans have 19 total spots to use, as long as four of them are mid-year enrollees.

Here's a position-by-position look at how USC could allocate those empty spots, with a projection of how many players at each position the Trojans will try to sign:

Offensive line: 6

The Trojans hold five commitments on the offensive line, two of those from mid-year enrollees who already have signed financial aid agreements. They might not be done, though, as a big fish is still out there and possibly leaning toward signing with his childhood favorite. If the coaching staff decides a scholarship would be more important at another position, the Trojans might have to part ways with a prospect from this bunch.


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Early Offer: Rutgers reeling 

November, 12, 2013
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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: Rutgers was assembling one of the best classes in the country, but that changed after a two-day stretch when two ESPN 300 recruits decommitted; while most of the attention has been on Florida State, Auburn could be a sleeper for one of the nation’s top receivers; and Ohio State loses a receiver pledge but it could open the door for other targets at the position.

Scarlet Knights lose key commits

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Weekly Commitment Roundup

October, 11, 2013
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AAC
Houston
Carter Wall OT Richmond, Texas/Navarro College
HT: 6-5 WT: 290
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Junior College Watch List

Rutgers
Taariq Cole OG Lido Beach, N.Y./Long Beach
HT: 6-6 WT: 370
Positional Rank: no. 63 OG
Stars: 3

Lamont Simmons CB Jacksonville, Fla./Raines
HT: 6-2 WT: 180
Positional Rank: No. 64 CB
Stars: 3

South Florida
Kendall Sawyer ATH Lehigh Acres, Fla./East Lee County
HT: 6-0 WT: 179
Positional Rank: No. 81 ATH
Stars: 3

ACC
Syracuse
Beau Benzschawel TE-Y Grafton, Wis./Grafton
HT: 6-5 WT: 250
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Evaluation Pending

Aaron Roberts OG Chicago/De La Salle
HT: 6-4 WT: 295
Positional Rank: #80 OG
Stars: 3

Virginia Tech
Ricky Walker DT Hampton, Va./Bethel
HT: 6-2 WT: 270
Positional Rank: No. 25 DT
Stars: 4

Big 12
Oklahoma State
Devante Averette ILB Iowa Falls, Iowa/Ellsworth CC
HT: 6-0 WT: 230
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Junior College Watch List

Big Ten
Illinois
Peter Cvijanovic OT Cleveland, Ohio/East Coast Prep
HT: 6-5 WT: 260
Positional Rank: N/A Post-Grad
Stars: 3

Iowa
Jalen Embry ATH Detroit/King
HT: 5-11 WT: 180
Positional Rank: No. 174 ATH
Stars: 3

Purdue
Timothy Cason II S Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston
HT: 6-0 WT: 179
Positional Rank: No. 80 S
Stars: 3

Wisconsin
Krenwick Sanders WR Jesup, Ga./Wayne County
HT: 6-2 WT: 185
Positional Rank: No. 74 WR
Stars: 3

Pac-12
Colorado
Jomon Dotson RB American Canyon, Calif./American Canyon
HT: 5-10 WT: 160
Positional Rank: No. 110 RB
Stars: 3

Oregon State
Drew Clarkson OG Camas, Wash./Camas
HT: 6-4 WT: 275
Positional Rank: No. 30 OG
Stars: 3

Jonathan Willis OLB Tulsa, Okla./Washington
HT: 6-1 WT: 210
Positional Rank: No. 108 OLB
Stars: 3

USC
Uchenna Nwosu OLB Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne
HT: 6-2 WT: 195
Positional Rank: No. 76 OLB
Stars: 3

Washington
Natrell Curtis OG Phoenix/Mountain Pointe
HT: 6-2 WT: 304
Positional Rank: No. 21 OG
Stars: 4

SEC
Alabama
Ronnie Clark ATH Calera, Ala./Calera
HT: 6-3 WT: 210
Positional Rank: No. 12 ATH
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (No. 96)
Under Armour All-American

Auburn
Xavier Dampeer OG Mendenhall, Miss./Copiah-Lincoln CC
HT: 6-3 WT: 300
Positional Rank: N/A
Stars: Junior College Watch List

Mississippi State
Jesse Jackson WR Petal, Miss./Petal
HT: 6-1 WT: 195
Positional Rank: No. 11 WR
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (No. 93)
Under Armour All-American

C-USA
Marshall
Tomell One DT Palm Bay, Fla./Bayside
HT: 6-3 WT: 278

Mountain West
Colorado State
Demontrie Taylor OLB Denton, Texas/Guyer
HT: 5-11 WT: 185

Weekend recruiting wrap: ACC 

September, 23, 2013
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It was a relatively mellow slate in the ACC this week, but there turned out to be several results of significance. Clemson defeated NC State in Raleigh, N.C., a place known for upsets, and Virginia Tech escaped against Marshall in overtime.

In recruiting, a couple offers were issued and a commitment was made. More in our weekend wrap from around the ACC:


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Few recruits are labeled indispensable to a class, but there are must-have prospects on the recruiting board for every school across the country. The reasons vary, however, ranging from whether the recruit fills a position of need or if he is an in-state prospect a program cannot afford to miss.

Here is the top target for each ACC school and the reasons behind it.

Boston College
S Lubern Figaro (Everett, Mass./Everett)
6-foot-1, 180 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: N/A
Steve Addazio’s first full class at BC is close to completion, but he would like to add one more important in-state piece before signing day. Figaro continues to list BC among his top five, along with Michigan State, Syracuse, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin. The Badgers will get his first official visit, as he will be in Madison this weekend. The Eagles have some work to do to keep Figaro at home, but there is a lot of time left to secure his pledge.


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