Sunday, December 1, 2013
Recruits react to UCLA's win over USC
By Blair Angulo
Many of the area’s top recruits were on hand at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum where UCLA claimed a second consecutive victory over crosstown rival USC on Saturday night.
The long list included ESPN 300 prospects Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra), John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), as well as No. 1-rated tight end Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) and four-star linebacker Dwight Williams (Gardena, Calif./Serra).
Earlier in November, the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Luatua had narrowed his options to a final two of Alabama and Notre Dame, but the Bruins’ 35-14 win might now play a factor in the weeks leading up to national signing day.
From a recruiting standpoint, though, there weren’t any immediate resolutions.
Although UCLA receiver commit Jordan Lasley (Gardena, Calif./Serra) posted a photograph of the final score, he said the Bruins’ victory didn’t necessarily solidify his commitment.
“It felt weird, honestly,” Lasley said. “I was torn between the two. Both teams competed and I thought USC was going to come out harder than they did. I wouldn't say it solidified my commitment to UCLA because USC was my dream school growing up and I’m still going to consider them. I saw some recruits celebrating with the UCLA players, but I wasn’t one of them. I thought that would be disrespectful, so I went straight into the USC locker room.”
The mood inside the locker room was solemn, Lasley said, as much of the attention turned to the uncertain future of interim head coach Ed Orgeron.
“There was a disappointed look on the players’ faces because they knew they had just let their fans down in such a big rivalry game,” Lasley said. “I did talk to coach Tee Martin and he told me it was a tough loss and, no matter what happens in the next few months, receivers at USC will always come out to play. I’m not worried about that at all.”
Like Lasley, three-star cornerback Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial) had a unique perspective attending the game as a USC recruit while being committed to UCLA.
“It was a great game,” Fisher said. “It kind of slipped away from USC at the end, but UCLA did a great job all around and showed who is the best team right now. The win makes my commitment stronger, but I know some recruits weren’t affected at all by USC’s loss. I stood with JuJu Smith, Darren Gardenhire and Ajene Harris, and they were hyped up and excited about being there.”
ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), the No. 1-rated pocket passer in the 2015 class, headlined the list of underclassmen that also included ESPN 300 defensive lineman Rasheem Green (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and ESPN 300 linebacker John Houston Jr. (Gardena, Calif./Serra). USC and UCLA appear to be in head-to-head battles for the likes of ESPN 300 tight end Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) and ESPN 300 athlete Jaleel Wadood (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), but neither made it to the Coliseum on Saturday.