The first day college coaches can call Class of 2015 recruits as part of the fall recruiting calendar is Sept. 1.
For USC coach Steve Sarkisian, the sales pitch for his calls today was made a lot easier by what his team did over the weekend.
"Hello, Mister Recruit, did you watch our game?"
There can be no better way to attract recruits than by putting a good product on the field, and the Trojans did that in a big way on Saturday in a 52-13 victory against Fresno State. Recruits were able to see a modern up-tempo offense get the ball to a bevy of athletes and the results were mind-boggling. They also saw a physical defensive front lead the way to a four-interception day.
All of that is important in the minds of recruits, but perhaps the most important number for Sarkisian was 11. As in 11 true freshmen played, and they not only played, they had an impact on the game. Three of those true freshman started (receiver JuJu Smith, left guard Toa Lobendahn and right guard Damien Mama) and three scored touchdowns (Smith, Adoree' Jackson and Bryce Dixon).
"I’m not surprised," Sarkisian said of his talented freshmen stepping up in their first game. "We know the importance of this freshman class. We needed them to come in and contribute to have success."
Smith had a team-leading 123 yards on four catches, including a 53-yarder that showed speed to go along with his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame. Jackson had three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown, also getting credit for one tackle on defense and providing good pass coverage. Dixon added a 22-yard touchdown. Ajene Harris had a catch. Viane Talamaivao saw plenty of time on the offensive line. On defense, Uchenna Nwosu had a pair of tackles and Olajuwon Tucker added one.
"Ever since the summer in practices these guys have come wanting to learn," USC quarterback Cody Kessler said of the freshmen. "We threw them in there, and I knew that they were going to run the right route and not miss their assignments. I was excited for them, especially in their first game."
With an offense that ran a conference-record 105 plays, Sarkisian will be able to show recruits there is immediate opportunity. He proved he is willing to start a true freshman by putting three of them in the lineup for the opener. Even those who don’t start were able to get plenty of reps in reserve to give the starters a rest. There was rotation, not only with guys like Dixon and Harris, but Talamaivao was one of those who rotated in on the line. And Jackson saw time on offense, defense and special teams, a truly remarkable feat.
"I thought Adoree' did well," Sarkisian said. "He really had an impact on all three phases. He had a great look in his eye, and the game was never too big for him."
Do you think Adoree’s former Serra teammates John Houston and Rasheem Green noticed his contribution? Or did Iman Marshall notice his former Poly teammate Smith? Of course they did. And plenty of other recruits noticed as well. Now Sarkisian will look to capitalize on that strong early impression to get the recruiting cycle started on the right foot. He’s definitely off to a good beginning after the opening game.
A look at the stats some recruits recorded in their games this past weekend:
CLASS OF 2015
QB Sam Darnold (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente): USC commit passed for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Also rushed for 78 yards and two more touchdowns in a 38-22 victory against Garfield.
QB Ricky Town (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure): USC commit completed 21 of 39 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-20 loss to Helix.
RB Aca'Cedric Ware (Cedar Hill, Texas/Cedar Hill): USC commit had 23 carries for 193 yards and 4 TDs in a 56-34 victory against South Oak Cliff.
WR Tristan Payton (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast): USC commit caught seven passes for 109 yards and one touchdown in a 41-6 victory against Ribault.
WR Christian Kirk (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro): Had 117 yards rushing, 186 yards receiving and 63 yards on two punt returns in a 41-14 victory against Scottsdale Chaparral.
CB Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly): Was strong on the defensive side of the ball and chipped in on offense with a 10-yard touchdown reception in a 54-14 victory against Crenshaw.
DE Joseph Wicker (Long Beach, Calif./ Poly): Recorded six sacks.
ATH Porter Gustin (Salem, Utah/Salem Hills): In a 42-7 victory against Payson, Gustin completed 13 of 23 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns at quarterback. He also rushed for 52 yards and one touchdown. On defense he had 11 tackles with 1 sack.
WR Cordell Broadus (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman): Hauled in five passes for 73 yards and one touchdown in a 48-27 victory against Servite.
WR Equanimeous St. Brown (Anaheim, Calif./Servite): Made a handful of catches, including a 49-yard touchdown in a 48-27 loss to Bishop Gorman.
RB Soso Jamabo (Plano, Texas/Plano West): Ran for 120 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries. Also caught two passes for 64 yards and one touchdown in 44-7 victory agaist Mesquite.
RB Dexter Williams (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange): Miami commit rushed for 125 yards and one touchdown in 27-24 victory against Boone. Williams recently revealed that he plans on taking an official visit to USC.
QB Caleb Wilson (Gardena, Calif./Serra): Completed 8 of 15 passes for 142 yards. Also rushed for one touchdown in a 24-6 victory against Lakewood.
RB Malik Roberson (Gardena, Calif./Serra): Ran for 43 yards and one touchdown.
WR Trent Irwin (Newhall, Calif./Hart): Caught 10 passes for 238 yards and one touchdown in a 63-48 loss to Chino Hills.
CLASS OF 2016
ATH Mique Juarez (Torrance, Calif./North): One sack, one interception, and a 97-yard kickoff return for a TD in a 13-10 victory against Redondo Union.
QB K.J. Costello (Coto de Caza, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic): Passed for 308 yards and two touchdowns in a 26-21 victory against Bishop Amat.
QB Shea Patterson (Shreveport, La./Calvary Baptist Academy): Completed 8 of 16 passes for 84 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions in a 33-14 victory against Ouachita Christian.
S C.J. Pollard (Gardena, Calif./Serra): Compiled five tackles.
CLASS OF 2017
ATH Nathan Tilford (Upland, Calif./Upland): Rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries in a 71-0 victory against Knight.
QB Tate Martell (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman): Completed 9 of 15 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns. Also rushed for 110 yards.
Osiris St. Brown (Anaheim, Calif./Servite): Had six receptions for 141 yards.