NCF On The Trail: USC Trojans

10 questions with Trenton Thompson 

September, 11, 2014
Sep 11
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ALBANY, Ga. — Five-star defensive tackle Trenton Thompson has been committed to Georgia for almost a month. As with any top prospect that makes an early commitment, the pressure only intensifies as signing day get’s closer. The No. 6-ranked player in the ESPN 300 took time out from his lunch period on Wednesday to answer 10 questions about what, if anything, has changed since he committed to Georgia on August 12.

Are you still hearing from other schools?
Thompson: Oh yeah, I hear from a bunch of other schools. Clemson, Florida State, USC, Auburn and Alabama. I’m pretty strong commit. I’ll listen to other schools just to see what they have to say.

UA jersey tour: Roquan Smith

September, 10, 2014
Sep 10
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MONTEZUMA, Ga — ESPN 300 outside linebacker Roquan Smith was presented with his Under Armour All-America jersey on Wednesday in a ceremony sponsored by American Family Insurance and held at the Macon County (Georgia) High School gymnasium. A large crowd consisting of family members, students, teammates and faculty members cheered loudly as the jersey was given to the No. 2-ranked outside linebacker in the country.

Macon County head coach Larry Harold said his star linebacker is deserving of the honor.

“He’s a great kid. He’s really humble, down to earth and fun to be around — kind of silly once you get to know him,” Harold said. "He’s grown tremendously from a kid that was shy, wouldn’t say two words to you, to now he’s our team spokesman. Very well spoken and represents his community and school very very well.

"On the field he brings tenacity. He’s a kid that never leaves the field — offense, defense and special teams. In this game of spread football where every body is trying to go fast-paced, he’s the one linebacker that can play outside of the box, he can play in the box. He can cover in space. That’s what makes him so unique. That’s why he’s rated so highly. He has safety skills, but he’s filled out to have a linebacker's body. Everybody wants that, especially on the collegiate level.”

Though not a final list, Smith said there are seven schools -- Georgia, Florida, UCLA, Miami, LSU, USC and Ole Miss -- starting to stand out to him right now. He is planning to officially visit Georgia, Florida and UCLA and has not decided on his other two visits.

 

Eight questions with Roquan Smith

Who is one player you are looking forward to competing against?
Smith: I want to see what Kyler Murray has to offer. With him scrambling around, I want to chase him down and things like that.

If you were to start a team with any other player in your class, who would it be?
Smith: I’d go with Trent [Thompson] to keep some of those big linemen off of me.

Who is the best player to ever play in the Under Armour game that you know of?
Smith: I would say [Jadeveon] Clowney. The first one I remember seeing was Julio [Jones] when I was like 10, but I’d have to say Clowney. He was so disruptive. He looked like a grown man out there playing against kids.

What is your earliest football memory?
Smith: I remember the first day when the coach asked my mother if I could play. That was when I was 5. My older brother had played and the pee-wee coach came to my mom and asked if I could play. She said she didn’t mind as long as I didn’t get hurt.

Which football player did you idolize or be like when you were a kid?
Smith: I’m a big Patrick Willis and Ray Lewis fan. They just play the game with relentless effort. They give everything they have on every possession. You just want to look up to someone like that.

If you could take on any pro player in their sport, who would it be?
Smith: I’d like to see how I’d do against DeSean Jackson, just to see how I’d do. I play linebacker, but I’d like to see how I’d cover him, like as a safety.

What number do you wear?
Smith: I wear No. 1. It’s kind of embarrassing, but my freshman year I wore No. 68. Then my sophomore year I got No. 1 because my new head coach came in and he always gives that to his best linebacker, so now it’s a tradition.

What is the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Smith: I’m not all that big on attention. I’d rather just sit back, chill and hang out with my boys.

Pac-12 vs. SEC: recruiting edge

August, 23, 2014
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It's widely accepted that the Pac-12 ranks second to the SEC among the Power Five conferences. ESPN The Magazine wondered whether the Pac-12 could narrow that gap in 2014 by examining how the two conferences stack up according to four factors, conveyed through an infographic: quarterback play, defensive line, recruiting and coaching.

Next up is a recruiting comparison. From The Mag:

Pac-12 recruiting roundup

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
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Things might slow down a bit in the coming weeks on the recruiting trail. Coaches are probably getting in their last-minute calls before the dead period goes into effect at the end of this month.

For now, here is where the Pac-12 schools stand in the recruiting game.

As always, you can view the ESPN 300 here and the current class rankings here.

Arizona

2015 commits: 14
ESPN 300 commits: 1
ESPN 300 players: Keenan Walker, OT, Scottsdale, Arizona.

Arizona State

2015 commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 1
ESPN 300 players: Brady White, QB-PP, Newhall, California.

California

2015 commits: 5
ESPN 300 commits: 0

Colorado

2015 commits: 4
ESPN 300 commits: 0

Oregon

2015 commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 2
ESPN 300 players: Taj Griffin, RB, Powder Springs, Georgia; Zach Okun, OG, Newbury Park, California.

Oregon State

2015 commits: 4
ESPN 300 commits: 0

Stanford

2015 commits: 4
ESPN 300 commits: 2
ESPN 300 players: Arrington Farrar, S, College Park Georgia.; Brian Chaffin, OC, Charlotte, North Carolina.

UCLA

2015 commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 3
ESPN 300 players: Josh Rosen, QB-PP, Bellflower, California; Alize Jones, TE-Y, Las Vegas; Tevita Halalilo, OG, Moreno Valley, California.

USC

2015 commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 4
ESPN 300 players: Chuma Edoga, OT, Powder Springs, Georgia; Ricky Town, QB-PP, Ventura, California; Jacob Daniel, DT, Fresno, California; Cameron Smith, ILB, Granite Bay, California; Noah Jefferson, DT, Las Vegas.

Utah

2015 commits: 8
ESPN 300 commits: 0

Washington

2015 commits: 5
ESPN 300 commits: 1
ESPN 300 players: Jake Browning, QB-PP, Folsom, California.

Washington State

2015 commits: 6
ESPN 300 commits: 2
ESPN 300 players: Thomas Toki, DT, Mountain View, California; Austin Joyner, RB, Marysville, Washington.
Though two of the top quarterbacks in the country are committed to Pac-12 schools, in terms of numbers at this point in the 2015 recruiting cycle, the conference doesn't stack up to the rest of the power conferences.

And while fans of the various Pac-12 programs might be ready to hit the panic button, there's no such worry behind the scenes.


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MARIETTA, Ga. -- The Nike SPARQ combines have grown with each passing year, and on Saturday there was a record turnout. If the 1,993 prospects who attended weren't impressive enough, the performances by several top prospects who came to compete certainly left spectators turning heads.

Here is a rundown of some of the event's top performers.
  • ESPN Junior 300 running back Taj Griffin posted one of the top SPARQ scores of the day. Griffin checked in at 5-foot-10, 174-pounds, ran a 4.41 40-yard dash and a 4.35 shuttle, had a 46-inch vertical leap and a 36-foot power ball toss for a combined score of 124.29. On the recruiting front, Oregon, Clemson, Florida State, Ohio State and Tennessee continue to stand out the most.

  • No. 3 junior offensive tackle Chuma Edoga posted an impressive score of 94.65. After measuring at 6-4 and weighing 276 pounds, Edoga ripped off a 5.01 40-yard dash, a terrific 4.69 shuttle and had a 33.8-inch vertical jump and 37-foot power ball throw. Following his impressive effort, he said his top four schools in order are Tennessee, Southern California, Georgia and Stanford with a decision likely on May 25, his birthday. The big news might have been that he currently prefers the Volunteers, but his mother is in the corner of the Bulldogs and Cardinal.
  • No. 252 prospect C.J. Sanders made the trip and did not disappoint. He checked in at 5-9 and 176 pounds, ran a 4.57 40-yard dash, had a blazing 4.09 shuttle run, leaped 36.5 inches and tossed the power ball 41 feet. On the recruiting front, USC, Notre Dame and Georgia are the latest to offer, joining Duke, Northwestern, Stanford, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Mississippi State and Ole Miss. He visited USC last week, and lists Reggie Bush as his childhood idol. Sanders is the son of former Ohio State and NFL wide receiver Chris Sanders. His mom played basketball at Michigan. He reports his family favors Duke and USC early on with a decision slated for the summer.
  • Class of 2016 prospect Ben Cleveland is already considered one of the top offensive line prospects in the country, and the 6-7, 317-pounder showed why Saturday. He clocked a very impressive 5.22 40-yard dash and 4.87 shuttle, and had a 25.8-inch vertical leap and 41.5-foot power ball throw for a score of 99.78. He has offers from Georgia, Clemson, Florida, South Carolina and Texas with Alabama expected in the near future. He made an unofficial visit to Clemson two weeks ago.
  • Class of 2015 running back Jaylen Burgess posted a 118.44. The 5-10, 214-pounder ran a 4.66 40-yard dash and a 4.38 shuttle, and had a 36.7-inch vertical leap and 42.5 power ball throw. He is receiving interest from Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Clemson, Duke and a number of other ACC schools. Duke and Tennessee are the coaching staffs Burgess talks to the most. He posted more than 1,500 all-purpose yards as a junior.
  • Class of 2016 linebacker and defensive end Charles Wiley checked in at 6-3, 203 pounds. He clocked a 4.68 40-yard dash and 4.45 shuttle, and also leaped 35 inches and threw the power ball 34.5 feet. He has an early offer from Virginia Tech.
  • Class of 2015 athlete Jeremiah Mercer is flying completely under the recruiting radar. While he had to sit out the 2013 season due to transfer rules, he made his mark Saturday posting a score of 97.47. The 5-11, 163-pound running back and wide receiver ripped off a 4.48 40-yard dash and 4.18 shuttle, and added a 36.2-vertical leap and 31-foot power ball toss. He is receiving interest from Vanderbilt and Mississippi State and lists Florida State as his dream school.
  • Class of 2016 inside linebacker Tyler Reed posted a very impressive score of 104.91. After measuring 6-2, 234 pounds, Reed ran a 4.96 40-yard dash and 4.59 shuttle, and had a 35.5-inch vertical leap and 41-foot power ball throw. He recorded 130 tackles as a sophomore.
  • Class of 2015 running back Eric Montgomery posted a 115.47, one of the day’s top scores. The tailback checked in at 5-11, 185 pounds, ran a 4.46 40-yard dash and a 4.19 shuttle, and jumped 36 inches and threw the power ball 38 feet. On the recruiting front, Kentucky, Cincinnati, Ole Miss and Mississippi State, among others, are showing interest.

CB Tony Brown suffers shoulder injury

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Cornerback Tony Brown, No. 11 in the ESPN 300 and the No. 2 prospect in Texas, suffered an injury to his left shoulder on Tuesday and likely will not play in the Under Armour All-America Game.

Brown, of Beaumont Ozen High School, was hurt while reaching to defend a pass in a non-contact coverage drill. He received medical attention at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex and was transported from the practice facility by cart, his head buried in his hands and his arm in a sling.

The 6-foot, 196-pound Brown, rated as the No. 4 cornerback nationally, is scheduled to announce his college decision during the 4 p.m. telecast of the Under Armour Game Thursday on ESPN.

Brown made official recruiting visits to Ohio State, Alabama, Texas, USC and LSU.

He graduated from high school early in order to enroll in January at his college of choice. Brown is an elite sprinter and plans to compete in football and track and field in college.

Irish TE commit Luatua wants to see USC 

December, 28, 2013
12/28/13
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ORLANDO -- Let the season of indecision begin.

Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada), the No. 1-rated tight end nationally who committed to Notre Dame on Dec. 16, said he’s interested in looking more closely at hometown USC.


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Pac-12 

September, 9, 2013
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It was another weekend without any commitments in the Pac-12, but the conference made a statement with a 9-1 record -- the only loss coming in conference play -- and four teams scoring more than 50 points. But that one loss was a big one, as USC dropped its home opener to Washington State in front of a number of high-profile recruits. On the field, a Cal commit put on a show while two elite 2015 prospects stood out as well.

Biggest offer

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Virginia offers 2018 QB prospect

August, 28, 2013
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Tyler DeSue hasn't started his final year of middle school yet, but he's already attracting major-college interest.

DeSue, a Class of 2018 prospect, is reportedly the latest in a recent trend of middle-schoolers who have received a college football scholarship offer. The 5-foot-11, 155-pound quarterback recently earned an offer from Virginia, as was first reported by Youth1.com and confirmed by ESPN.com.

Clearly, the Cavaliers are high on his current skills and his ability to develop as a player. For schools, there is little downside to offering early: neither the offer nor the commitment is binding. Offering extra early is merely the latest way for schools to get in early with players they believe could become big-time prospects. USC made headlines by offering QB David Sills an offer as a seventh-grader, but the Trojans are not alone. LSU and Alabama are among the programs that extended offers to then-eighth grader Dylan Moses.

Such an early offer from a school like Virginia is uncommon, considering the academic standards in Charlottesville. DeSue has yet to record a single high school credit.

Whether the early offer phenomenon pays off for schools remains to be seen. But there seems to be no slowing coaches looking for the next playmaker.

McGraw, Petera look near and far 

April, 15, 2013
4/15/13
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Two prospects with scholarship offers from Southeastern Conference power programs said they’re following through with plans to look hard at schools in other parts of the country.

Safety Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, La./John Curtis) and outside linebacker Petera Wilson (Memphis, Tenn./White Station) hold offers from Alabama, Ole Miss and Tennessee. Wilson has also been offered by Florida, Georgia, LSU and Mississippi State; McGraw by Arkansas and Vanderbilt.


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ESPN Watch List LB recaps LA trip 

April, 11, 2013
4/11/13
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After going on a tour of some nearby schools in recent months, ESPN Watch List outside linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove) used some free time this week to visit the Los Angeles schools.

And one stood out above the other.

“UCLA is definitely going to be in my top 10. I loved it there,” Allen-Williams said. “At USC, I didn’t really get that feel that I got at UCLA.”

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USC commit, ESPN 300 DE talks Aggies 

January, 17, 2013
1/17/13
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Houston Alief Taylor defensive end and USC commitment Torrodney Prevot had an in-home visitor from his home state Wednesday night.

The ESPN 300 prospect, who has been committed to USC since July, is still being courted by other schools.


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Big weekend ahead for Trojans 

January, 17, 2013
1/17/13
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LOS ANGELES -- The big one has arrived.


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ESPN 150 S McQuay set to decide Friday 

December, 30, 2012
12/30/12
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- ESPN 150 safety Leon McQuay III (Seffner, Fla./Armwood) will be making his college decision at the Under Armour All-America Game on Friday.


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