NCF On The Trail: USC football



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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BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The offensive line group of ESPN 300 members Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra), Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) might have been difficult to top in Day 2 of The Opening, but the receivers -- namely those targeted by USC -- certainly did their best to upstage the trenchmen.

Led by No. 1-rated athlete and SPARQ national champion Speedy Noil (New Orleans, La./Edna Karr), the batch of receivers turned in impressive performances in the preliminary 7-on-7 competition.

Speedy Noil
Tom Hauck for Student Sports Speedy Noil turned in an impressive performance.in the preliminary 7-on-7 competition.

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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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Despite being one of the top programs in the nation, LSU still has some work to do to land one of the top junior prospects in the south.

Coaches from LSU visited Todd Kelly Jr. this week. However, the Watch List prospect from Knoxville (Tenn.) Webb said he's primarily focusing on his top ten finalists.


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ESPN 150 S McQuay commits to USC

January, 4, 2013
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- After four prospects decommitted from the USC Trojans since the beginning of November, the Trojans have finally got some good news as ESPN 150 safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) verbally committed to USC tonight during the Under Armour All-America Game.

The 6-foot-2, 183-pound four-star athlete selected the Trojans over Florida State, Oregon, Vanderbilt and Michigan.

As a senior, McQuay totaled 54 tackles and five interceptions on defense. He also added five receptions for 137 yards and a touchdown on offense.

McQuay, the nation’s No. 3 safety and a starter in Friday's UA Game, is expected to enroll early at USC and be eligible to play spring football.

With McQuay's decision, the Trojans have 15 verbal commitments, including 10 who are members of the ESPN 150. Each of the 15 commitments is ranked as a four-star or higher.

ATH Redfield chooses Notre Dame

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Notre Dame’s push continues for the No. 1 spot in the ESPN recruiting class rankings.

The Irish added a pledge tonight during the Under Armour All-America Game from Max Redfield of Mission Viejo, Calif., the nation’s No. 4 athlete and No. 36 prospect in the ESPN 150. Redfield again spurned Notre Dame rival USC, from which he decommitted in November, though he continued to consider the Trojans.

Notre Dame appeared in the lead for Redfield after he bolted from the Trojans. He spoke glowingly of the Irish after an October official visit to South Bend, Ind., to watch the Irish defeat Stanford in overtime.

His commitment is the 23rd for Notre Dame, which counts 10 members of the ESPN 150 in its Class of 2013. Redfield, the No. 3 prospect in California, ranks behind linebacker Jaylon Smith of Fort Wayne, Ind., and running back Greg Bryant of Delray Beach, Fla., on the Notre Dame list.

The Irish, after a 12-0 regular season that landed them in the BCS title game against Alabama at 8 p.m. ET Monday on ESPN, have gained momentum in recruiting. Bryant, No. 2 nationally at running back and 27th overall in the ESPN 150, joined the class in December. Tarean Folston, the nation’s No. 9 athlete from Cocoa, Fla., committed this week during practice sessions for the UA Game to vault Notre Dame to No. 2 in the class rankings, behind Alabama.

The 6-foot-2, 181-pound Redfield, who started in Friday's UA game and is projected to play safety in college, also had visited Washington and recently considered Ohio State.

The recruiting score is extra sweet for Notre Dame as it continues to watch the Trojans suffer. Redfield made an official visit to USC, which finished 7-6 this season with three straight losses -- including a 22-13 defeat in Los Angeles to Notre Dame on Nov. 24. He also gave his final home visit to USC coaches about three weeks ago, but it wasn’t enough to swing him back.

The Trojans have also endured the losses of WR commits Sebastian LaRue and Eldridge Massington and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, sending USC from the top spot to No. 5 in the class rankings.

Meanwile, Notre Dame pushes forward. A win Monday over Alabama would only further aid the Irish’s quest to surpass the Crimson Tide.

Max Redfield reveals final trio 

December, 30, 2012
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The verdict is in for Max Redfield. We’ll learn his decision on Friday on ESPN's 5 p.m. ET telecast of the Under Armour All-America Game.


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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -– Five-star defensive end Carl Lawson (Alpharetta, Ga./Milton) has been committed to Auburn since March. After Gene Chizik was let go and replaced by former Tigers offensive coordinator Guz Malzahn earlier this month, schools lined up to try and get Lawson on campus. If he had his way he would oblige as many of his suitors as possible.

“I would like to visit Clemson, Tennessee, FSU, UCLA, USC, UNC and Ole Miss, but realistically the five I visit might be Clemson, Tennessee, Ole Miss, UNC and USC,” Lawson said.


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ESPN 150 S McQuay set to decide Friday 

December, 30, 2012
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- ESPN 150 safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) will be making his college decision at the Under Armour All-America Game on Friday.


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Tennessee will host several visitors for Saturday's game against Florida. Most will be unofficial visits. One of the headliners is clearly Derrick Green, the four-star tailback from Richmond (Va.) Hermitage High School, who'll be taking his first official visit.

Green is scheduled to visit Michigan in October. He has also said he'll visit Auburn and is considering Oregon, Ole Miss and Virginia Tech.

Here are some other prospects scheduled to be in Knoxville this weekend:

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2014 DE Denzel Ware commits to FSU

September, 2, 2012
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Florida State added a sixth member to its 2014 recruiting class late Saturday night with the commitment of Denzel Ware (Crestview, Fla./Crestview).

The 6-foot-2, 215-pound defensive end, who was in attendance for the Seminoles' rout of Murray State, got the feeling that Tallahassee was the place for him.

"It feels great," Ware said of making his decision. "Watching the game, I watched Brandon Jenkins and sat in the recruiting section and got a tour of the school, I just felt like the time was right."

Florida State's defensive ends combined for four sacks in the first half alone, showing Ware it is a scheme in which he could thrive. That, along with the relationships he has with the coaches, made the biggest difference.

"I have a great bond with the coaches," he said. "I like the tradition. I just really love it.

"[Defensive ends] coach [D.J.] Eliot was like, 'Are you for real?' I told him I was for real and he nearly jumped out of his shoes. He introduced me to the whole coaching staff and everyone was proud."

Ware said he plans on taking other visits, but considers himself firm to the Seminoles. The junior defensive end said FSU won out for his commitment over Alabama and USC.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Four-star USC running back commit Justin Davis (Stockton, Calif./Lincoln) of the West team left an afternoon game at the Champion Gridiron Kings event with a lower leg injury.


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ESPN 150 cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, Fla./Wharton) disclosed his list of top five schools Friday via Twitter.

"Top 5 ) 1.Florida 2.Clemson 3.Vanderbilt 4.Miami 5.Notre Dame , USF is not in my top 5 but still considering !" Hargreaves wrote.

Hargreaves also holds offers from Florida State, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, USC and numerous others.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pound cornerback is the No. 4 player in the nation and No. 1 at his position.

See video of Hargreaves at ESPN RecruitingNation.
FULLERTON, Calif. -- A bevy of attributes make Tyler Luatua of La Mirada (Calif.) an elite prospect, but it’s one you can’t see that stands out above the rest: His dissatisfaction.

He’s physically imposing, yes. He’s strong, quick and versatile, too. Scouts rave on and on and on about the class of 2014 athlete’s advanced skill set. He’s smooth enough to play tight end, yet gritty enough to play linebacker.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound athlete received his first scholarship offer from UCLA in February and, in a matter of weeks, had gone national. At least locally, no underclassman had a bigger spring. Luatua piled up offer after offer, and is considered one of California’s top recruits in next year’s class.

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College coaches can usually gauge a prospect's interest by whether or not they make the effort to come to campus and attend a camp.

[+] EnlargeJamel James
Courtesy of Scott FinkESPN 300 RB Jamel James says he and a fellow Texan, Florida State TE commit Christian Morgan,

"plan on going to the same college."
ESPN 300 running back Jamel James (Katy, Texas/Cinco Ranch) probably proved his point arriving in Tallahassee on Wednesday morning -- about 740 miles and 12 hours later.

"It was a long ride," laughed James. "Me and my coach drove. It was a pretty long drive, pretty boring, actually, until we got into Florida."

It didn't take that long for James to impress. Early on, it seems like the feeling is mutual.

Even though James has only been on campus for a matter of hours, his first look has been a good one.

"The campus is beautiful," said James, 5-foot-11 and 220 pounds. "There are very down-to-earth people here. The first lady I met, she gave me like four hugs before she even knew my name. That's pretty nice to see people be able to do that. It shows a lot about the whole campus and the whole football program here."

Florida State found themselves a competitive advantage in Christian Morgan (Plano, Texas/Prestonwood Christian Academy), a Seminoles commitment.

"That's my buddy," James said with a smile. "That is my buddy. He's in my ear. Me and him became best friends when we were both interested in Washington. After all of that, we just stuck with it and stuck together. We are about to go have a conversation about college right now.

"We plan on going to the same college because me and him are a dominant duo. We already know that before we even play together."

The math isn't exactly difficult here. Morgan committed to Jimbo Fisher on June 26 to make good on his half of the deal.

James understands that. And while he hasn't gone ahead and made the decision yet, it is looking like a viable option.

"He's committed to here and I am just scoping it out like he did when he first came here," James said. "He waited a couple of days, a week, until he made his final decision and he said that he loves it. I can see why. The people are a different breed to Texas people. It is real different, but I like it."

The Florida State coaching staff spent a lot of time watching the prized talent go through drills. When he took time to rest in between repetitions, they spent it talking to him.

It is the kind of attention the nation's No. 223 overall player is looking for.

"I have been talking to them a lot," James explained. "They have offered me -- not today, a while back -- and I have just been sitting on it and thinking about it and seeing what I like. I came out and visited and it is good so far. I am loving it. The coaches are talking to me a lot and showing me the love. I like it when they do that.

"He knew me before I could say my name," he added of Fisher. "We had a pretty good conversation. He seems pretty interested in me as long as all the other coaches do, too."

Over the remainder of his trip, James will tour the campus and the surrounding area to get a feel for what life as a student-athlete at FSU is like.

The undecided tailback, who also has offers from Arkansas, Houston, LSU, Texas Tech, USC and West Virginia, has targeted an area of study once enrolled at his school of choice. Florida State also appears safe on that front.

"We saw most of it today," James said of the FSU campus. "We didn't get to go see too much of the academic side of things, but they pointed some stuff out. I want to venture out and see it.

"I would like to major in physical therapy and it sounds like they have a pretty darn good program here. I am just here to learn."

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