- Garry Paskwietz, Publisher, WeAreSC.com
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The last week of USC recruiting had a very familiar feeling to it with a loaded Rising Stars camp and a flurry of verbal commitments that showed the Trojans' national recruiting pull.
It’s really not too much of a stretch to say it had the feeling of the environment that was created by Pete Carroll when he was building his version of the USC program a decade ago. Under Carroll, the Rising Stars camp became a "who’s-who" of recruiting talent, one that showed the Trojans' ability to draw not only the best local players from southern California, but from around the country as well.
In his second year in charge of the camp, Steve Sarkisian was able to draw nine of the 11 players who were committed to the Trojans at the time of the camp, as well as top out-of-state prospects from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. In fact, two of those southeast recruits ended up committing to USC -- ESPN300 defensive tackle Keyshon Camp and 2017 receiver Amari Rodgers who happens to be the son of USC receivers coach Tee Martin -- gave their verbal pledges to the Trojans after the camp.
USC also received a verbal commitment at the end of the week from ESPN300 tight end Cary Angeline, a 6-foot-7 pass catching weapon from Pennsylvania who helps fill a critical need in the Trojans offense.
The commitments from Camp and Angeline show another familiar pattern from the Carroll era when it comes to out-of-state recruits -- a willingness to reach out-of-state for prospects who fill needs that aren’t being met locally. In the case of Camp, there simply aren’t many elite defensive tackles on the west coast in this class (only one defensive tackle from California is ranked among the top 50 players at that spot by ESPN), while the southeast in usually a good place to look, as evidenced by the Trojans' recent experience with Leonard Williams. With Angeline, Sarkisian grabbed another tall tight end to pair with 6-foot-6 ESPN300 incoming freshman Tyler Petite with an eye on creating red zone matchup nightmares for opposing defenses. USC has also targeted ESPN300 tight end Devin Asiasi in this class. He can catch the ball, is also a powerful run blocker with his current 6-foot-5, 270-pound frame.
It has to be encouraging for USC fans to see Sarkisian and his staff achieving this type of recruiting momentum in only his second season with the Trojans, and before he has really led his team to the type of on-field success that could push the results even higher. Last year saw the Trojans finish with a top-3 recruiting class across the board, and top-ranked by some services. This year looks to be more of the same with the way Sarkisian is going right now. If the Trojans can get back to the point where they are competing for conference and national titles, it’s easy to imagine that Sarkisian would be able to take it up a notch even more on the recruiting trail to challenge the best of what Carroll was able to do in his time at USC.
After all, it’s not like Sarkisian is satisfied with where things are with this class, a quick check of the underclass list at the Rising Stars camp showed a top 2017 QB offer (Tua Tagovailoa), a trio of 2017 running backs with offers (USC commit Stephen Carr, Najee Harris and Salvon Ahmed) and a pair of 2017 OL offers in Austin Jackson and Aaron Banks.
There was even an offer to a 2018 CB after the camp, Christian Tutt, as well as an offer to 2017 cornerback Thomas Graham, who is expected to announce his college choice this week with the Trojans as the strong favorite.