Monday, October 28, 2013
Notebook: Juco DT visits Trojans
By Blair Angulo
The USC Trojans lost junior college defensive tackle Michael Wyche (Chesapeake, Va./East Los Angeles College) last week when he decided to switch his commitment to Miami (Fla.), but they quickly moved in on another highly regarded lineman.
Over the weekend, juco defensive tackle Claudeson Pelon (Orlando, Fla./Mesa Community College) became the first prospect to take an official visit to USC this season. The Trojans failed to hold onto Wyche, who wanted to return to the East Coast, but Pelon would undoubtedly make up for the bump.
“The visit was amazing,” the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Pelon said. “It’s a great place and I can see myself playing there, for sure. Coach (Ed) Orgeron treats everyone like his own son. All he wants to do is make you better. The fact that he’s a defensive line coach is also something that would be great for me.”
Pelon, who has also made an official visit to Washington, saw his recruitment pick up during the spring evaluation period. USC assistant coach Tee Martin visited him and the Trojans were particularly struck by his size and athleticism.
At one point, USC held verbal commitments Wyche and ESPN 300 defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central) as part of its 2014 class. Orgeron signed only one defensive tackle, four-star Kenny Bigelow (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy), in the 2013 group.
“I talk to Coach O every day and Coach Martin has been my main recruiter,” Pelon said. “He came by during the springtime, then I started looking into USC seriously and did some research. Coach O has a history of producing top-notch linemen. He’s a guru, really. We have built a great relationship.”
The Trojans put on a show for Pelon, beating Utah 19-3 behind a stellar defensive effort.
“The defensive line was going crazy,” Pelon said. “Washington is still there as a real option for me, but their defensive line is not as known. Plus, Los Angeles is like no other. USC is definitely up there for me.”
Pelon is scheduled to visit Miami in December and might also take a trip near his hometown to UCF. He intends to graduate in December, which would allow USC to bring him in as an early enrollee.
"I want to make a decision real soon," Pelon said.
USC defensive end commit Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) made his first official visit over the weekend to Oklahoma, but he returned home still a member of the Trojans’ recruiting class.
Dorton said the Sooners, who defeated previously unbeaten Texas Tech, definitely made an impression on him, though, and added that Oklahoma moved up on his list.
“I liked the coaches, players and campus,” Dorton said. “It was crazy, but I’m still committed to USC.”
Calhoun commits to Arizona State
Former USC commit D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) originally planned to check out other programs before making another decision, but a visit to Arizona State ultimately led to his decommitment from the Trojans and changed his recruitment altogether.
The ESPN 300 outside linebacker gave a verbal pledge to the Sun Devils over the weekend and USC, which appeared to be in position to at least host him on an official visit down the road, was eliminated for good.
– Though top athlete target John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) officially visited Oregon over the weekend -- his third overall this year -- it might be seen as good news for the Trojans that the ESPN 300 prospect has not been compelled to commit elsewhere. USC has to feel good knowing it likely will get the last shot to sell Smith on a new era when coaching hire is announced. Smith previously visited Ohio State (Sept. 27) and Notre Dame (Oct. 18), and he has visits scheduled for Alabama (Nov. 9) and Michigan (Nov. 29) remaining.
– ESPN 300 defensive end Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton) committed to Texas A&M -- a mere formality given that he had long been considered a lean to the Aggies. Cunningham, the teammate of former Trojans offensive tackle commit Casey Tucker and son of former Texas A&M standout Rick Cunningham, had USC in his top five after visiting for the Rising Stars Camp this past summer. The Trojans hold commitments from Dorton, three-star prospects Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and Olajuwon Tucker (Gardena, Calif./Serra) at defensive end, but would likely take at least another in this class.