USC makes strong impression on 2014 OT


While putting together a tremendous 2013 recruiting class, the USC Trojans have also started work on the 2014 class, hitting the offensive line hard with commitments from tackle Jordan Poland (La Jolla, Calif./Country Day) and guard Toa Lobendahn (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood). And while it appears that Lane Kiffin and staff could stop at two offensive linemen in this class, they'll likely race by that number next year, as an additional offer was extended over the weekend to offensive tackle Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton).

Tucker is the latest in a string of Arizona big men that have been sought after by the Trojans, which includes Christian Westerman, Cyrus Hobbi and Andrus Peat. USC is scholarship offer No. 9 for Tucker, and the Trojans join programs such as Boise State, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Washington in the race for the 6-foot-6, 270-pound tackle. And it's a race in which USC finds itself out front.

During an unofficial visit this weekend, Tucker had an opportunity to meet with head coach Lane Kiffin and offensive line back James Cregg.

"Everything went super well," Tucker said. "I felt right at home with those guys. I really liked the environment, the way the coaches coach and the way they welcomed me."

It was Tucker's first time visiting USC, but it likely won't be the last.

"USC is a place where I could see myself going," Tucker said. "I don't want to jump into anything, but then again, sometimes I do. We're talking about it and comparing all these schools. I've always been wanting to take my time with recruiting, but doing it early would allow me to focus more on different things."

Tucker plans to weigh the pros and cons of an early commitment.

"The good part is that I'd be able to focus a lot more and know where I need to be," he said. "I'd have good contact with the coaches and would know what they want me to do to get ready. It seems like a pretty good plan. The only thing is that a lot can happen over a year and a half. But USC looks pretty solid to me."

While he is still a bit unsettled with his recruiting timeline, Tucker already knows that whenever he comes to a conclusion, that will likely be his one and only final answer.

"I don't like the idea of decommitting from a school," he said. "My uncle says to make sure you can keep your word, because a man's word is very important."

Until he makes that decision, Tucker is likely to hear from plenty of programs. His first scholarship offer came from Oregon State. Then, after a brief lull, he said offers poured in from some of the nation's top programs.

"I really didn't expect to get this much [attention]," Tucker said. "I thought it'd be smaller schools at first, and maybe only a couple. I was asking my coach to get my film out and he said, 'Don't worry. You're fine.'"

Tucker said the recruiting attention works as pure motivation.

"It makes me feel like I have to be a leader," he said. "I have a lot to prove as well. I have to step up my game and show that I'm dominant and deserving of these offers."