Today was national signing day in college football and players from all over the country decided their futures. We spent the day tracking Southland players and the local schools to bring you the latest on who was going where. Below is a blow-by-blow account of what happened throughout the day.
(UPDATED, 7:29 p.m.) -- We're shutting it down on the live blog for today. We hope you enjoyed our coverage of national signing day.
(UPDATED, 7:10 p.m.) -- Crenshaw's DeAnthony Thomas has decided to sign with Oregon, spurning USC after he had committed to the Trojans. Thomas made the announcement Wednesday night at Crenshaw High. Read the quick story at this link. Check our main site later for a reaction column from Ramona Shelburne, who was in attendance for Thomas' announcement.
(UPDATED, 6:34 p.m.) -- Still waiting on DeAnthony Thomas' announcement. He's apparently running late.
(UPDATED, 6:05 p.m.) -- 710 ESPN Radio says it will carry DeAnthony Thomas' announcement live. Click here to listen.
(UPDATED, 6 p.m. via Dan Arritt) -- Junior Pomee and Ryan Henderson of Moreno Valley Rancho Verde made it official late Wednesday afternoon, choosing to play football at USC.
Pomee, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound tight end, chose the Trojans over Arizona and Utah. Pomee is a bit undersized, but has the athleticism to move to receiver at the college level.
Henderson, a 5-10,165-pound cornerback, orginally committed to Utah last June, but began drawing serious interest from the Trojans following the season.
(UPDATED, 5:49 p.m. via Dan Arritt) -- The Salt Lake Tribune reported Utah received a last-minute addition in Chino defensive back/wide receiver Quinton Pedroza, a bit of a sleeper in this year's class. Pedroza was committed to Arizona State, but obviously had a change of mind. Pedroza didn't play football until his senior year, instead having focused on baseball.
(UPDATED, 5:22 p.m.) -- A reminder that Crenshaw's DeAnthony Thomas is scheduled to make his announcement at the high school at 6 p.m. Thomas had long been considered a USC commit but recently was said to be favoring Oregon. Our Ramona Shelburne will be there for the announcement and we'll report on his decision.
(UPDATED, 4:16 p.m. via Greg Biggins) -- Torian White (Lakewood, Calif.) shocked many viewers earlier today when he committed to USC over UCLA, the school he had been committed to since the summer. This one may not be over yet however as White has yet to sign his letter of intent with the Trojans and is still thinking over his decision.
“His heart is still with UCLA,” Joe White, Torian’s father said. “When he chose that USC hat, he did it for everyone but him. There are so many people around him pushing him to USC and there are a lot of great things about USC but my son just isn’t happy right now and as a father, that hurts me.
“The car ride home after his announcement was one of the longest rides we’ve taken. People were asking us if we we’re OK because of how sad Torian looked. This is supposed to be the happiest day of his life and he’s just not happy right now and has no peace about it. I’ve called Rick Neuheisel and Lane Kiffin and told them both what we’re thinking and we just want to sit on this for a little longer.
“I want what’s best for my kid and when I asked him what he was feeling, he said he just wanted to make me happy. He thinks this is what I want, but I want him happy and he wants UCLA so more than likely, that’s where he’s going to go. As a father, I want Torian to do what he wants, not what he thinks everyone else wants. I know it’s going to create a circus but I’m OK with that. I just want this over and so does Torian so I’m going to call Neuheisel back in a little bit and let him know that we’re going with UCLA.”
(UPDATED, 4:12 p.m.) -- Some more signings and announcements involving players from Orange County:
Jeff Worthy, DL, Boise State
Nick Gstrein, TE, UNLV
Ben Wysocki, OL, UCLA
Andrew Main, C, Nevada
Kyle Zotnick, DL, San Luis Obispo
Christian Licciardi, OL, Montana
Joel Willis, CB, California
Jack Alvarez, OL, Penn
Mark Martindale, TE, UC Davis
J.B. Salem, DL, Stanford
San Juan Hills
Michael Perryman, DB/TE, Montana State
(UPDATED, 3:16 p.m.) -- Brett Hundley, the No. 6-rated quarterback in the nation according to ESPNU, has already arrived at UCLA and has been practicing with the Bruins since last month. Recently ESPNU's Campus Connection caught up with the Chandler, Ariz., native and produced this video on the freshman.
(UPDATED, 3:08 p.m. via Dan Arritt) -- Jovonte Slater won’t appear on any USC football recruiting lists, but the Vista Murrieta speedster certainly has what it takes to help the Trojans down the line.
Slater signed a letter of intent Wednesday to run track and field for USC. Back when he committed to the Trojans in July, he was given the OK to also continue playing football.
Slater finished second in the 100 meters and long jump and third in the 200 to lead the Broncos to the Southern Section Division I title last spring. He went on to finish eighth in state in the 100 (USC football signee George Farmer of Garden Serra was second).
Last fall, Slater helped the Vista Murrieta football team win the Southwestern League title, rushing for 370 yards in eight games and scoring three touchdowns. He also returned three kicks for touchdowns.
He missed the Broncos final five games and their run to the Inland Division championship game after undergoing surgery for a ruptured appendix.
(UPDATED, 3 p.m. via Greg Biggins) -- Crespi (Encino, Calif.) wide out Devin Lucien had a final five of UCLA, Colorado, Arizona State, Utah and Miami but decided to stay close to home and will play for the Bruins.
“I wanted to stay close to home to be near my family,” Lucien said. “I’ve liked UCLA for a while and I’m excited to be a part of the program. It came down to UCLA and Colorado and it was close, but I have a good relationship with Mike Johnson, the new OC at UCLA and I’m comfortable with my decision.”
Lucien had a big senior year hauling in 71 catches for 1,259 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s an advanced route runner with great hands and has the size and physicality to play early for the Bruins.
(UPDATED, 2:39 p.m. via Mark Saxon) -- Of the 25 players who are either already enrolled or have faxed their letters of intent to USC, 10 are offensive linemen or linebackers.
This recruiting class was largely about need for USC. Pete Carroll neglected offensive linemen in his final recruiting efforts, signing just three in his last two years, and the Trojans were left barren when a star-studded group of linebackers graduated to the NFL a couple of years ago.
When Lane Kiffin discusses this class in a few hours, he’ll no doubt highlight the late additions of offensive linemen Cyrus Hobbi from Arizona, Aundrey Walker from Cleveland and Torian White from Lakewood, plus linebacker Lamar Dawson from Kentucky.
If the Trojans had struggled landing players at these two positions, they could have been in trouble for years to come.
(UPDATED, 2:35 p.m.) -- Here's a brief video on USC's signing of Serra standout Marqise Lee. Check it out at this link.
(UPDATED, 2:04 p.m. via Dan Arritt) --While the big winners in the Inland Empire are San Diego State (seven recruits) and Oregon (four), the biggest loser appears to be Utah.
Despite the hiring of well-respected offensive coordinator Norm Chow from UCLA two weeks ago, Vista Murrieta quarterback Derrick Brown decided to switch his commitment to Washington a couple of days later. Brown committed to the Utes in June, shortly after it was announced they would join the Pac-10 Conference for the 2011 season.
Corona Centennial quarterback Michael Eubank then pulled a bait-and-switch on the Utes while announcing his college choice Wednesday, initially picking up a Utah baseball cap and then donning one from Arizona State.
Moreno Valley Rancho Verde cornerback Ryan Henderson also committed to the Utes last June, but re-opened his recruiting after a recent offer from USC and he's expected to sign with the Trojans this afternoon.
(UPDATED, 1:59 p.m.) For Orange County fans, here is a list of some players from the region by school who signed or announced their choice today:
Scott Thompson, long snapper, North Carolina State
Andrew Walsh, FS, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
Thomas Olds, OL/DL, Hawaii
Andrew Strange, OL, Harvard
Sean O'Grady, DE, Arizona State
Reiley Higgins, WR/DB, Brown
Troy Niklas, DL, Notre Dame
Charles Burks, DL/LB, USC
Faitele Faafoi, OL, Arizona
Lorenzo Devers, TE/LB, Nevada
Atlas Smith, TE, UC Davis
Gary Freeman, RB, Sacramento State
Luke Holler, DE/TE, San Diego
William O’Keefe, OL, Brown
Trent Mason, QB, South Dakota State
Ethan DeSilva, DB, Yale
Tre Madden, LB, USC
Mitch Melugin, DE, Northern Arizona
(UPDATED, 1:37 p.m. via Dan Arritt) -- It appears San Diego State has managed to hold on to its seven Inland Empire recruits, despite the departure of coach Brady Hoke to Michigan.
The Aztecs lost nearly two-thirds of their coaching staff since the end of the season, which culminated with a victory over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl, but retained offensive coordinator Rocky Long by promoting him to head coach.
The seven players from the I.E. expected to sign with the Aztecs today are linebackers Darius Guillory from Temecula Chaparral and Ryan Jack from Corona Centennial, offensive linemen Paul Rodriguez from San Bernardino San Gorgonio and Jordan Taylor from Redlands, wide receivers Jemond Hazely of Corona Santiago and Paul Pitts of Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos and defensive lineman Jon Sanchez of Vista Murrieta.
(UPDATED, 1:23 p.m. via Tim Haddock) -- Two other players who have signed letters today are wide receiver Jalen Jefferson of St. Bonaventure, who signed with California, and defensive lineman Reggie Coates of Crespi, who signed with Nevada. On another note, Cody Kurz of St. Bonaventure will not be signing today.
(UPDATED, 1 p.m. via Tim Haddock) -- Two players from small schools power Paraclete signed letters of intent. Lavonte Barnett, a defensive lineman, officially signed with Oregon State, and defensive back Darian Thompson inked on with Boise State
Another Paraclere player, running back Roosevelt Davis, is going to Harvard and wants to walk on to the football team, coach Norm Dahlia said.
A couple of other key recruits from north of L.A. who have yet to announce are wide receiver Devin Lucien from Crespi and linebacker Cody Kurz of St. Bonaventure. Both are expected to make announcements this afternoon.
(UPDATED, 12:57 p.m. via Greg Biggins) -- More on Marqise Lee:
USC continued its strong late run by landing a commitment from Serra (Gardena Calif.) two-way standout Marqise Lee. Lee chose the Trojans over Oregon and Miami.
“It feels great to be able to play with my best friends, George Farmer and Robert Woods,” Lee said. “I could play on either side of the ball, but I think they’re going to start me out on offense at receiver. I’m just very comfortable at USC and the more I thought about it, the more I liked the idea of staying close to home.”
Lee is an elite athlete who could play receiver, safety and maybe even some corner in college. He’ll also double sport and will play on the Trojans basketball team. Heading into the year, Serra teammate armer drew all the national headlines and deservedly so. Farmer is one of the nation’s top receiver prospects but Lee may have outplayed him this year and his stock skyrocketed.
(UPDATE, 12:51 p.m.) -- Marqise Lee from Serra, arguably the top pure athlete who had yet to commit, announced on Fox Sports West.com he will attend USC and team up with fellow Serra senior George Farmer and former Serra standout Robert Woods. It's another huge signing for the Trojans.
(UPDATE, 12:43 p.m.) -- More clarification. Corona Centennial quarterback Michael Eubank just announced on Fox Sports West.com that he will attend Arizona State, sticking with his original committment. Eubank faked out fans, at first, choosing a Utah cap and acting as if he were going to put it on, before setting it down and picking up the ASU cap.
(UPDATE, 12:22 p.m. via Sean Ceglinsky) -- We here at ESPNLosAngeles.com know plenty about Todd Barr from Lakewood after writing a full-blown feature on the 6-foot-3 and 265-pound senior defensive lineman back in late September and recently learning about his commitment to California.
What we weren't necessarily aware of was how many of Barr's teammates are heading to the next level. Lancers coach Thadd MacNeil has confirmed seven pledges: Rahim Cassell (Oregon), Rashad Wadood (Arizona State), Kelly Harpham (Air Force), Jake Phillips (UNLV), Dupre Roberts (UNLV), Josh Keiles (Columbia) and Theo Sheridan (Nebraska Concordia).
The only suspense had been Barr's buddy, Torian White, a promising offensive lineman prospect from Lakewood who was expected to sign with UCLA but flipped to USC just a short time ago.
(UPDATE, 12:15 p.m. via Greg Biggins) -- More on Torian White:
Lakewood (Calif.) offensive lineman committed early to UCLA last summer but pulled off a shocker on Fox Sports West and will sign with USC. White just visited USC last weekend after tripping to Oregon State and Arizona as well as UCLA.
The Trojans made up a lot of ground in the last 24 hours as White’s father Joe said on Monday that Torian was still planning to sign with UCLA. The SC coaches were relentless in their pursuit and Kennedy Pola, the coach recruiting White, was able to seal the deal at the last hour.
“It was very hard because I had bonded with the UCLA staff and players,” White said. “The last few days have been so stressful for me and this was an extremely difficult decision. I just felt USC was the best place for me and where I could be the most successful.”
(UPDATE, 12:11 p.m. via Blair Angulo) -- Lakewood OL Torian White committed to UCLA in June 2010 but just announced for USC on FS West. He was the only verbal not to send in his letter.
(UPDATE, 12:02 p.m. via Dan Arritt) -- Junior Pomee and Ryan Henderson of Moreno Valley Rancho Verde, and Michael Eubank of Corona Centennial are three high-profile recruits from the Inland Empire who will make their choices known later today.
Pomee, a tight end, and Henderson, a cornerback, will annouce their decisions at 5:30 p.m. on CBSLA.com. Pomee is thought to be signing with USC. Henderson was a Utah commit but could switch to USC as well. Eubank, a quarterback, committed to Arizona State but is still considering Pittsburgh and Utah. He will announce his decision at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports West.
(UPDATE, 11:33 a.m.) -- Just so we're clear, DeAnthony Thomas is scheduled to make his announcement at 6 p.m. at Crenshaw. Our Ramona Shelburne will be there for the news.
(UPDATED, 11:29 a.m. via Greg Biggins) -- Some background on Servite's Troy Niklas signing with Notre Dame and spurning USC and Stanford:
Niklas visited USC, Stanford and Notre Dame the last three weekends and according to Niklas’ father Don, made his decision late Monday night.
“He visited Notre Dame last weekend and came home just overwhelmed,” Don Niklas told the Orange County Register. “There’s so much information and it’s hard to process it all. We talked about it all day Monday and that night, he decided Notre Dame was the place for him.
“Tuesday night, we called the coaches and Troy called Ed Orgeron at USC and let him know he was going to Notre Dame. That was hard because Troy really bonded with Coach O but he just felt Notre Dame was where he fit in best.”
Niklas earned league MVP, county lineman of the year and first team all-state honors this past season after dominating on both sides of the ball. He has the ability to play tight end, offensive tackle or defensive end in college but will likely start out at defensive end for the Irish.
(UPDATED, 11:26 a.m. via Greg Biggins) -- Here is some background on UCLA, which got a big pickup with the signing of Kevin McReynolds but lost out on Jalen Grimble:
McReynolds took his first official visit to Westwood in early December and also visited Mississippi State, Kansas State and Syracuse. There was talk in the last week that MSU might be the team to beat but the tackle said academics were the biggest reason for his decision and the Bruins won out.
“I loved my visit there,” McReynolds said. “The campus, the coaches, the facilities, I really liked everything about it and no one else could measure up to that first visit. I know the program is a little down now, but I’m excited to help try and turn the program around.”
Grimble had de-committed recently from USC and narrowed his choices to Miami and the Bruins.
“I decided late last night,” Grimble said. “It was pretty agonizing but my relationship with some of the coaches at Miami put them over the top. I’ve known Miami DL coach Jethro Franklin for years, he was recruiting me when he was still at USC and we have a really good relationship. When I called him and let him know about my decision, he was going nuts.”
(UPDATED, 11:24 a.m.) -- As expected, Mater Dei quarterback Max Wittek signed with USC. Here's a video talking about Wittek and the Trojans.
(UPDATED, 11:19 a.m. via Greg Biggins) -- Inglewood wideout Patrick Onwusor (Inglewood, Calif.) narrowed his choices to Arizona and Miami but decided to stay out West and signed with the Cats.
“It was close but I just thought Arizona was a better fit,” Onwusor said.
“I liked Coach [Mike] Stoops a lot and the whole entire coaching staff to be honest. I like their offense, Arizona throws the ball around a lot and the depth chart sets up pretty well for me.
“I think I can play early there and I also like the academic programs they have. Distance was never a factor for me. I had no problem leaving home and going all the way to the Southeast but I just liked Arizona the best.”
Onwusor also visited Nebraska, Arizona State and Hawaii before signing with the Cats.
(UPDATED, 11:13 a.m.) -- The UCLA signing of Kevin McReynolds is official. Check out this link.
(UPDATED, 9:55 a.m. via Greg Biggins) -- Even after he re-confirmed his commitment to Washington a few weeks ago, the coaches at Long Beach Poly (Calif.) said Cal was not out of it for their standout corner Kameron Jackson. Jackson proved they knew what they were talking about and signed with the Bears this morning.
“He was torn because of his early commitment,” Poly DB coach Doc Moye said. “Kam is a loyal kid and felt like he needed to keep his word, even though he has been leaning to Cal ever since he visited. The more he thought about it, he realized he had to follow his heart and do what he felt was best for him and that was going to Cal.
“Ashley Ambrose being at Cal was a big reason for his decision as well. Kam had a really good relationship with him and Ambrose is an NFL guy that he really liked a lot. It was tough for him to tell Washington he was going elsewhere, especially this late but Kam is happy with his decision.”
Jackson had a huge senior season and earned league defensive player of the year honors as well as 2nd team all-state mention from CalHiSports.com. He picked off six passes and returned three of them for touchdowns.
(UPDATED, 9:49 a.m.) -- Here's a quick story from recruiting expert Greg Biggins, detailing some background on some of USC's key signees this morning:
It has been all about USC this morning as the Trojans picked up commitments/signees from three elite prospects from all over the country. Offensive lineman Aundrey Walker (Cleveland, Ohio./Glenville), linebacker Lamar Dawson (Danville, Ky./Boyle County) and defensive tackle Christian Heyward (San Diego, Calif./Point Loma) all signed with the Trojans solidifying a likely top five recruiting class.
Walker told us at the NIKE Camp at Ohio State last summer that USC was his top school but when you’re talking about a player from Glenville, it’s usually assumed said player will end up at Ohio State. The Trojans have never been shy about recruiting Glenville athletes and just missed out on a few including former receiver/return specialist Ted Ginn.
Walker visited the Trojans in mid-January and said all the right things. The lineman called USC his dream school and then followed through by signing with the Trojans after narrowing his choices to SC and Ohio State. It’s a huge pickup as Walker is one of the elite guards in the nation and capable of stepping in and competing for playing time right away.
Along with the offensive line, linebacker was the biggest need for the Trojans and Dawson was another huge pickup. He’s a big, physical ‘backer and like Walker, has the needed size, toughness and ability, to compete for playing time right away.
Dawson visited the Trojans the same weekend as Walker but it still seemed like a long shot for the athlete to spurn the SEC and head West. Michigan and Tennessee were his last two visits and Oregon was very high on the list as well. Dawson said the visit to SC was his best trip, it was where he felt most comfortable and early playing time also played a large role.
Heyward was always a wildcard simply because he never talked to the media, so it was tough to get a feel for what he would do. It came down to USC, Oregon and San Diego State but the big tackle said he felt he bonded with the Trojan coaching staff and made mention of their NFL backgrounds as a big reason for his decision.
The lineman said he also liked the academic reputation at USC, the private school nature and the need for tackles after Jurrell Casey decided to leave a year early to enter the NFL draft.
The Trojans did lose committed linebacker Kent Turene (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla./Boyd Anderson) to Georgia. Turene committed last summer to the Trojans but the feeling in recent weeks was the Dawgs were the team to beat after a recent official visit.
The Trojans also looked as if they had a very good shot with offensive lineman Delvon Simmons (McKeesport, Pa.), who signed with North Carolina and defensive back Marcus Roberson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas) who signed with Florida after de-committing from Auburn, a week after de-committing from Texas Tech.
(UPDATED, 9:43 a.m.) -- According to CBSSports.com's Bryan Fischer via Twitter, UCLA apparently has picked up a quality defensive tackle in Kevin McReynolds of Washington D.C., though the school has not confirmed his signing just yet in its latest online posting, which was updated as of 9:15 a.m.
(UPDATED, 9:32 a.m.) -- USC's signing of Christian Heyward figures to really bolster the Trojans' defensive line. Check out this video of ESPN's recruiting experts discussing what this means as well as taking a look at USC's class in general.
(UPDATED, 9:27 a.m.) -- According to Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times via Twitter, UCLA has received signed letters from all of its verbal commitments, except for offensive lineman Torian White of Lakewood, though he is supposed to send his over at noon.
(UPDATED, 8:56 a.m.) -- USC picked up another good one when defensive tackle Christian Heyward (San Diego/Point Loma) picked the Trojans, spurring hometown San Diego State and Oregon.
(UPDATED, 8:25 a.m.) -- UCLA has formally welcomed a few players via Twitter: "C Jacob Brendel from Texas and LB Mike Orloff from Massachusetts have faxed their LOI. Welcome Bruins! ... QB Brett Hundley, DE Sam Tai and LB Aaron Wallace are already enrolled at UCLA. They are part of this class of new Bruins. ... Steven Manfro, RB from Valencia, and Conor McDermott, OL from Nashville, TN, are the newest UCLA Bruins. ... Welcome to UCLA to Raymond Nelson, TE from Modesto, CA as well was OT Will Oliver from Brentwood, CA. ... Brandon Tuliaupupu, DT from Claremont, CA and Ben Wysocki, OG from Los Alamitos, CA are the newest Bruins. That's 8 today so far."
(UPDATED, 8:20 a.m.) -- In case you haven't heard, Cresnshaw's DeAnthony Thomas is scheduled to make his announcement tonight at 7 p.m. at his high school. Thomas was a USC commit but a weekend trip to Oregon reportedly has swayed him to sign with the Ducks. Check out this video of ESPN's Shelley Smith discussing the situation. She says USC is worried.
(UPDATED, 8:19 a.m.) -- According to the Los Angeles Times, Servite High's Troy Niklas has picked Notre Dame over USC. Niklas was one of the top uncommitted players in the Southland.
(UPDATED, 7:28 a.m. via Pedro Moura) -- Offensive lineman Aundrey Walker (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) chose USC over Ohio State.
(UPDATED, 7:22 a.m.) -- UCLA has lost out on another top player. According to ESPN's signing day chat, defensive end Jalen Grimble (Las Vegas/Gorman) has picked Miami over the Bruins. Grimble was originally a USC commit.
(UPDATED, 7:05 a.m.) -- Tony Steward (St. Augustine, Fla./Pedro Menendez), the nation's top inside linebacker, in a bit of an upset, decided on Clemson, over Florida State and UCLA. The Bruins were thought to be a longshot all along. Steward made his announcement live on ESPNU.
(UPDATED, 6:39 a.m., via Pedro Moura) -- Linebacker Lamar Dawson (Danville, Ken./Boyle County) has chosen USC over Tennessee. Cornerback Marcus Roberson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Lincoln) has chosen Florida over USC.
(UPDATED, 6:20 a.m.) -- USC suffered its first loss of the day when top linebacker prospect Erique Florence (Valley, Ala./Valley) signed with in-state favorite and defending national champion Auburn, making his announcement live on ESPNU. Before picking the Tigers, Florence had a lot of nice things to say about USC, especially defensive coach Monte Kiffin, but it wwasn't enough to sway him to come to the West Coast.