Monday, January 31, 2011
36 hours until Signing Day -- what's left to decide?
By Pedro Moura
It's getting closer.
We're nearing 36 hours now until National Signing Day begins. In between now and then, we can expect a lot of rumors, a lot of hearsay, and a lot -- a lot of recruiting news, basically. Here are the Top 10 uncommitted recruits USC continues to recruit with an eye on what's likely to happen Wednesday, in no particular order:
1. Tight end/defensive end Troy Niklas (Anaheim, Calif./Servite)
Niklas will decide between USC and Notre Dame after he didn't get in to Stanford. He visited Notre Dame last weekend; USC earlier this month. The Irish are particularly interesting in Niklas' case because they are simply stocked at end in this recruiting class -- seven defensive ends are committed to ND at the moment, including three early enrollees and five-star Ishaq Williams (Brooklyn, N.Y./Lincoln).
He could play tight end, of course -- or offensive tackle, even, as some recruiting services have him projected. Tackle would be the biggest need-filler for the Trojans, so it'll be an interesting what he's listed at by the university if he indeed signs Wednesday.
Niklas is expected to announce his decision Wednesday but has not specified a time or location.
2. Athlete Marqise Lee (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
Lee, a likely safety at the next level, is picking between USC, Miami and Oregon and has provided little indications as to where he might be headed.
If it means anything, he's good friends with fellow Gardena Serra receiver George Farmer and could end up following Farmer to USC. Class of 2010 Serra product Robert Woods also came to USC and did fairly well for himself as a first-year freshman last season.
But Oregon has had a lot of momentum in recruiting over the last few weeks, and Lee is a player who that could very well affect.
3. Offensive guard Aundrey Walker (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville)
Walker's an interesting character, a product of a longtime Ohio State stronghold in Glenville who has been flirting with USC for some time now. He reportedly enjoyed his Jan. 14 visit a great deal and came back home raving about it. It coincided with his 18th birthday, and Walker made a trip out of it by exploring Los Angeles for the first time.
USC coaches are likely selling Walker on the possibilities of starting as a freshman at USC. He's a guard by trade, and the Trojans have little to no depth on the interior line.
Florida State and Michigan State are also options for the 6-foot-5, 355 pounds behemoth. The head coach at Glenville is Ted Ginn Sr., the father of former Buckeyes receiver Ted Ginn Jr. He's steered a number of big-time prospects to Ohio State in his post over the years.
4. Defensive tackle Christian Heyward (San Diego, Calif./Point Loma)
Heyward visited USC in early December but has visited three other schools -- UCLA, Oregon and San Diego State -- this month alone. He'd be a big pickup for all three of those schools, immediately becoming the jewel of SDSU's recruiting class, the top defender for the Bruins or the top defensive tackle in years to head to the Ducks.
He'd be a good fit for the Trojans' under tackle spot, a pass-rusher with the ability to tackle well. Defensive end is also a possibility if he doesn't gain much weight. Heyward's a likely redshirt, a player who will need to bulk up in 2011 -- but one with great long-term potential.
Heyward will announce his decision live on local television Wednesday, with the broadcast also airing on ESPN.
5. Defensive end Jalen Grimble (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman)
Grimble was one of the first players to commit to USC's 2011 recruiting class, less than three months after his cousin Xavier Grimble signed with the Trojans in February.
But he appears to be heading somewhere else of late, with many pegging him as a likely Bruin signee. He also visited Miami earlier this month -- Hurricanes recruiting coordinator Brennan Carroll recruited him while at USC, too -- and could be headed there as well.
Grimble may be the least likely of this group to end up a Trojan.
6. Safety Erique Florence (Valley, Ala./Valley)
Florence was supposed to pick between home-state Alabama or home-state Auburn. Somehow Arkansas and USC have also gotten into the mix with the 6-foot-2, 181-pound safety, and Florence visited the Trojans earlier this month and reportedly loved it.
Safety is not USC's neediest position, with Drew McAllister, Demetrius Wright, Jawanza Starling and T.J. McDonald all likely to be ready for spring practice, but Florence would be a big get as one of the Top 5 talents in Alabama and Top 5 safeties in the country.
7. Linebacker Kent Turene (Sunrise, Fla./Boyd Anderson)
Turene committed to USC last summer as an early enrollee but didn't end up coming in January. He then officially de-committed from the Trojans last week and is now considering Texas Tech, Georgia, Nebraska and USC (still).
Turene could be an inside or outside 'backer at the college level, but his best asset, in watching his film, is in stopping the run. His tackling ability appears major college-ready, and he seems as sure a bet as any to play his freshman year on special teams, wherever he ends up.
Interestingly, all four of his top choices are out of state and three of the four a flight away home. Distance is clearly not a factor.
8. Tight end Junior Pomee (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde)
Pomee is one of only a few uncommitted local kids USC is still recruiting, but he seems to have a lot of other options besides the Trojans. First, there's Florida -- where he was once reported to be a heavy lean and where 2010 Rancho Verde end Ronald Powell ended up signing. Then there's UCLA -- who he committed to last summer but later cooled on. And there's Utah, where high school teammate/cornerback Ryan Henderson is currently committed.
It'll be a challenge for the Trojans to secure Pomee's signature, but, in talking to him last month, he was very high on the USC coaching staff.
9. Linebacker Lamar Dawson (Danville, Ken./Boyle County)
Dawson is probably the second least likely of this group to end up at USC, but you never know. Two years ago at this time everybody had Hawai'i linebacker Manti Te'o as a sure thing to USC, and Te'o ended up signing with Notre Dame.
This year, Dawson's expected to sign with Tennessee. But he visited USC alongside the host of other out-of-state recruits who visited USC the weekend of Jan. 14, and recruits can have quite the influence on others.
He'll be an interesting one to follow Wednesday.
10. Defensive tackle Delvon Simmons (McKeesport, Pa./McKeesport)
Simmons visited USC last weekend, the only visit he's made since the end of last season. He also visited Oregon, Rutgers and Texas Tech. A 6-foot-5, 262-pounder, recruitniks say his height and weight leaves plenty of room for weight gain on his lanky frame, so he seems capable of fitting at either tackle spot in a defense like the Trojans'.
Rutgers and coach Greg Schiano could be USC's main competition for Simmons, who some recruiting services have at a five-star grade. The competition between Oregon and USC on the out-of-state recruits is another aspect of Signing Day many will be following, and Simmons is another example of that.
He is expected to announce his decision at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
Other players who seem to be USC possibilities who are not currently committed to the Trojans include running back Javorius 'Buck' Allen (Tallahassee, Fla./Lincoln), safety Karlos Williams (Davenport, Fla.), offensive tackle Torian White (Lakewood, Calif./Lakewood) and Henderson (Moreno Valley, Calif./Rancho Verde). Some notes on those four: Allen visited USC earlier this month, the first time he'd ever flown on a plane; Williams is a solid Florida State commit but loved his USC visit; White is a longtime UCLA commit; some recruitniks think Henderson and Pomee will end up going to the same school. Niklas, Lee and White will all announce their college decisions on Fox Sports West at 12 p.m. Wednesday.
We'll have more on the USC recruiting front in the next 36 or so hours and, on Signing Day, interviews with some recruits who end up signing with the Trojans.