Sunday, November 17, 2013
USC commits, targets revel in upset win
By Blair Angulo
USC interim coach Ed Orgeron had already revitalized the Trojans’ recruiting efforts, sending out several local offers and picking up four commitments in the weeks since taking over for Lane Kiffin.
That momentum grew exponentially Saturday night at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where a loaded list of top-flight recruits saw USC upset Stanford in front of a crazed crowd that rushed the field in jubilance. Five-star cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), ESPN 300 athlete John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and ESPN 300 tight end Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) were among the top targets in attendance.
The list featured all but one of USC’s nine verbal commits, as longtime pledge Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) couldn’t make the trip but watched intently from home.
“Going into the game, I knew it was going to be a dog fight,” Lobendahn said. “I wanted the Trojans to battle no matter what and they did that. I wasn’t going to lose faith in them no matter what, but I’m so glad we got the W and so happy for Coach O and the team. I’m super mad I couldn’t go celebrate.”
Lobendahn could get the scoop from USC receiver commit Shay Fields Jr. (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), who was in the middle of the celebration.
“The locker room was really crazy,” Fields said. “Everybody was dancing and going crazy in there. The recruits were loving the intensity inside that locker room. Now I’m trying to get everybody (to join me).”
Fields had a number of recruits to choose from, as the Trojans drew the presence of local recruits whom have made pledges elsewhere, including Cal athlete commit Jaleel Wadood (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Miami quarterback commit Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade), Cal running back commit Tre Watson (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and UCLA receiver commit Jordan Lasley (Gardena, Calif./Serra).
“It definitely gives me something to think about,” Wadood said. “It was a huge win for SC. I’m still trying to decide if I will take an official visit. My last one will be between Washington and USC.”
Kaaya, a four-star pocket passer who landed an offer from childhood favorite USC shortly after Orgeron took the helm, surprised his mother with tickets for her birthday.
“It was exciting to watch,” Kaaya said. “Funny thing is, the first college football game I ever saw was Stanford-USC at the Coliseum when USC lost. This time, it seemed like the situation switched and USC came out on top.”
For three-star offensive tackle Jordan Austin (Claremont, Calif./Claremont), the game also served as a chance to build a relationship with a future teammate.
“It was pure excitement in the locker room following the well-deserved win,” Austin said. “I hung out with Jordan Poland primarily, but we did not talk much about recruiting. Rather, it was just friend to friend.”
The Class of 2015 was also well represented, with No. 1-rated signal-caller Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), No. 4 cornerback Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and No. 7 wide receiver Cordell Broadus (Diamond Bar, Calif./Diamond Bar) headlining a group that also included No. 2 outside linebacker John Houston Jr. (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and No. 12 defensive tackle Rasheem Green (Gardena, Calif./Serra).
“It was a great game,” Broadus said. “The atmosphere was very electric.”
The job Orgeron and his staff have done has not been lost on recruits. ESPN 300 defensive end Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) has been open to visiting other schools while being committed to the Trojans, but that would all disappear if Orgeron were to get hired.
“Recruits want the coaches to stay on staff really bad; at least I know I do,” Dorton said. “If those guys stay, I’m definitely coming.”
Three-star outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu (Harbor City, Calif./Narbonne), who last month became the first recruiting class member from the Los Angeles City Section, left the Coliseum with a smile on his face.
“It was great. I had a good time and I feel like I made the right choice,” Nwosu said. “After the game, we went in the locker room and it was crazy in there. All the coaches were getting turned up.”