NCF On The Trail: Uchenna Nwosu

USC might have pushed back the visits of some of its premier recruiting targets, but the weekend could still be considered a productive one for head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff.

With the likes of John "Juju" Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) postponing their official visits, ESPN 300 athlete Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central) was the headliner in a group that made it to campus for the three-day trip. The coaching staff also brought in a pair of uncommitted prospects who could be viable options on national signing day.

Five USC recruiting priorities 

January, 10, 2014
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As the final stretch of recruiting begins for the 2014 class, USC is limited in the amount of scholarships left to give.

The Trojans currently have 17 verbal commitments for 19 available slots, although there is speculation that there could be decommitments from current verbals coming, which would open up additional spots. Those decommitments could come from players who sense that they are not a priority for the new staff, or who think they have better opportunities elsewhere.

While it remains to be seen exactly how many slots will be left to fill, here are five remaining priorities based on recruiting needs:


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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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Notebook: Mama will analyze USC 

December, 9, 2013
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ESPN 300 offensive guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) was a spectator to start the weekend, but he capped it with a championship trophy between his hands.

Mama accompanied good friends and fellow USC targets John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Kammy Delp (Pomona, Calif./Diamond Ranch) to the Inland Empire on Friday night, as the tight-knit group watched Trojans commits Viane Talamaivao and Austin Maloata of Corona (Calif.) Centennial capture yet another CIF Southern Section Inland Division title. On Saturday, it was Mama’s turn to hold the hardware with his friends watching from the stands at Angel Stadium.

As a result, Mama will have a little less time to focus on his recruitment as a 12-day dead period approaches. That might not be bad news for the Trojans.


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USC commits, targets revel in upset win 

November, 17, 2013
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USC interim coach Ed Orgeron had already revitalized the Trojans’ recruiting efforts, sending out several local offers and picking up four commitments in the weeks since taking over for Lane Kiffin.

That momentum grew exponentially Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where a loaded list of top-flight recruits saw USC upset Stanford in front of a crazed crowd that rushed the field in jubilance. Five-star cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), ESPN 300 athlete John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and ESPN 300 tight end Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) were among the top targets in attendance.

The list featured all but one of USC’s nine verbal commits, as longtime pledge Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) couldn’t make the trip but watched intently from home.

“Going into the game, I knew it was going to be a dog fight,” Lobendahn said. “I wanted the Trojans to battle no matter what and they did that. I wasn’t going to lose faith in them no matter what, but I’m so glad we got the W and so happy for Coach O and the team. I’m super mad I couldn’t go celebrate.”

Lobendahn could get the scoop from USC receiver commit Shay Fields Jr. (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), who was in the middle of the celebration.

“The locker room was really crazy,” Fields said. “Everybody was dancing and going crazy in there. The recruits were loving the intensity inside that locker room. Now I’m trying to get everybody (to join me).”

Fields had a number of recruits to choose from, as the Trojans drew the presence of local recruits whom have made pledges elsewhere, including Cal athlete commit Jaleel Wadood (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Miami quarterback commit Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade), Cal running back commit Tre Watson (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and UCLA receiver commit Jordan Lasley (Gardena, Calif./Serra).

“It definitely gives me something to think about,” Wadood said. “It was a huge win for SC. I’m still trying to decide if I will take an official visit. My last one will be between Washington and USC.”

Kaaya, a four-star pocket passer who landed an offer from childhood favorite USC shortly after Orgeron took the helm, surprised his mother with tickets for her birthday.

“It was exciting to watch,” Kaaya said. “Funny thing is, the first college football game I ever saw was Stanford-USC at the Coliseum when USC lost. This time, it seemed like the situation switched and USC came out on top.”

For three-star offensive tackle Jordan Austin (Claremont, Calif./Claremont), the game also served as a chance to build a relationship with a future teammate.

“It was pure excitement in the locker room following the well-deserved win,” Austin said. “I hung out with Jordan Poland primarily, but we did not talk much about recruiting. Rather, it was just friend to friend.”

The Class of 2015 was also well represented, with No. 1-rated signal-caller Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), No. 4 cornerback Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and No. 7 wide receiver Cordell Broadus (Diamond Bar, Calif./Diamond Bar) headlining a group that also included No. 2 outside linebacker John Houston Jr. (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and No. 12 defensive tackle Rasheem Green (Gardena, Calif./Serra).

“It was a great game,” Broadus said. “The atmosphere was very electric.”

The job Orgeron and his staff have done has not been lost on recruits. ESPN 300 defensive end Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) has been open to visiting other schools while being committed to the Trojans, but that would all disappear if Orgeron were to get hired.

“Recruits want the coaches to stay on staff really bad; at least I know I do,” Dorton said. “If those guys stay, I’m definitely coming.”

Three-star outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne), who last month became the first recruiting class member from the Los Angeles City Section, left the Coliseum with a smile on his face.

“It was great. I had a good time and I feel like I made the right choice,” Nwosu said. “After the game, we went in the locker room and it was crazy in there. All the coaches were getting turned up.”

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Notebook: USC commits like turnaround 

November, 11, 2013
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Recruits have taken notice of a resurgent USC football team under interim head coach Ed Orgeron, but none have been happier than those already committed to the Trojans.

The latest eyebrow-raising victory came Saturday when USC throttled Cal behind an inspired effort, and the consensus feeling among commits was one of pride. he Trojans have seemingly salvaged their season heading into the final stretch.

Wins and losses might not be the most important factors for recruits, but the impressive three-game winning streak and accompanying buzz has undoubtedly helped USC’s efforts on the trail.


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Interim head coach Ed Orgeron wasted little time to reignite USC's recruiting when he stepped into his role earlier this season.

Orgeron sent out a flurry of offers that Lane Kiffin apparently was hesitant to extend during the final weeks of his tenure.

These weren’t five-star prospects the Trojans were suddenly offering, either. Many weren’t even four-stars.


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Video: Uchenna Nwosu interview

October, 24, 2013
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Outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu of Harbor City (Calif.) Narbonne speaks with WeAreSC recruiting reporter Blair Angulo regarding his commitment to USC and emerging on the scene.

Three-star DE commits to Trojans 

October, 18, 2013
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GARDENA, Calif. -- Following months of stressful anticipation, three-star defensive end Olajuwon Tucker (Gardena, Calif./Serra) needed just a week to arrive at a decision.

Only seven days removed from when he landed a surprise scholarship offer from USC, Tucker made the call and verbally committed to the Trojans on Friday.


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WeAreSC recruiting mailbag 

October, 18, 2013
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WeAreSC recruiting reporter Blair Angulo answers reader questions in his mailbag every week. Have a USC recruiting question of your own? Submit it via Twitter @WeAreSCstaff or @bangulo.

@jboyd_2: Coach Ed Orgeron and Tee Martin seem to be reaching out and offering more since Lane Kiffin was fired.

WeAreSC: That is correct. Seven offers have gone out in the three weeks since Kiffin was let go, with four of those offers going to prospects committed to other schools. It’s been a mix of no-brainers (ESPN 300 quarterback Brad Kaaya) and surprises (three-star safety Uchenna Nwosu), but the aggressive strategy appears to be paying off. Recruits seem to be reconsidering the Trojans with Kiffin gone, and the outlook might only improve once the coaching situation is sorted out.

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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: After transferring to Cherry Creek in Colorado, four-star running back Nathan Starks was finally able to get back on the field last Friday night, and that could help his recruiting stock; USC continues to make a strong local push; and the battle for one of the nation’s top defensive backs is getting heated.


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Recruiting notebook: USC going local 

October, 14, 2013
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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.

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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
A Pacific Northwest showdown, big home games for Washington State, Utah and UCLA, and an important commitment for USC round out the top Pac-12 recruiting storylines this week.


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Commit Q&A: Uchenna Nwosu

October, 9, 2013
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After landing a scholarship offer last week, unheralded safety prospect Uchenna Nwosu (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne) needed only four days to commit to nearby USC. There were many factors, but proximity played the biggest role in his decision.

WeAreSC caught up with the 6-foot-3, 195-pound athlete to break down USC's first commitment since the firing of Lane Kiffin:

WeAreSC: The offer arrived on Friday and you made your decision quickly. How important was it for you to get this out of the way?

Nwosu: I actually thought about it quite hard. I guess it was a short time in between, but it felt like forever to me.

WeAreSC: What was the biggest factor?

Nwosu: I want to keep playing football and stay close to home at the same time. A lot of decision making came through my coaches and family, and I thought about it hard. I came to this conclusion. The coaches like my pass-rushing skills and how I can drop into coverage. They also like to see me fly after the quarterback on the blitz.

WeAreSC: You have only started five varsity games, all coming this year as a senior. How has your high school career unraveled and what do you envision in the future?

Nwosu: Starting out high school, I played basketball my freshman and sophomore years. I went into coach [Narbonne coach] Manual Douglas' office my 10th grade year and told him, ‘Uh, coach, I'm not too sure I want to play football. I just want to focus on basketball.’ And he told me, ‘You're about 6-feet-2. If you don't have handles like Allen Iverson, you might not make it to college.’ After that year, I told him I wanted to play football and he responded, ‘What did I tell you? What did I tell you?’ I started playing football from then on. My junior year I played junior varsity and moved up to varsity for playoffs to back up Keishawn Bierria, who is now at Washington. When he graduated it gave me an opportunity to step up. The five varsity games this year have been good so far.

WeAreSC: What was the reaction like when you told the coaching staff you were committing.

Nwosu: They were excited. I could already tell they had smiles on their faces as soon as I called them.

WeAreSC: Which other schools are recruiting you at this point?

Nwosu: My other offers are from Oregon State, Portland State and Wyoming. Colorado, San Jose State and UTEP are also coming after me.

WeAreSC: Was the decision more difficult to make given the uncertainty following the recent coaching change?

Nwosu: It didn't really affect me. USC is USC. They are going to continue to be a great program. They have nothing to do now except get better. I have nothing to worry about. I'm glad I'm a Trojan.

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