Monday, October 7, 2013
Recruiting notebook: USC coaches hit trail
By Blair Angulo
ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Josh Rosen is a big target for USC, which has struck out on 2014 quarterback prospects so far.
BELLFLOWER, Calif. -- Before leaving the USC campus on Friday night, interim head coach Ed Orgeron told reporters it was time for the staff to become visible on the Los Angeles recruiting scene. He and assistant coach Tee Martin wasted no time following the evening practice session, heading directly to Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco for an intriguing matchup against Los Angeles Crenshaw.
Upon arrival, Orgeron did everything short of kissing babies.
The popular coach posed for photographs, shook hands and drew hearty laughs. His first public appearance since the firing of Lane Kiffin was a huge success. Orgeron carried a vibrant smile, pacing both sidelines and waving at whoever shouted to get his attention.
Recruits certainly noticed their presence, too.
“I felt special when they told me they were coming out here to watch me play,” said ESPN 300 athlete Jaleel Wadood following St. John Bosco’s 75-35 victory. “That was a great energy boost for me. It was an honor to have coach Orgeron and coach Tee out here watching me. I feel blessed.”
Wadood caught a 55-yard touchdown pass from ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Josh Rosen on their first offensive play and the rout was on. Still, Orgeron and Martin stayed for the entirety of the blowout. There was plenty of reason to stay, of course. ESPN 300 offensive guard Damien Mama, USC defensive end commit Malik Dorton and Rosen, the No. 1-rated quarterback in the 2015 class, were playing.
“I’m glad the USC coaches came out to watch us. That was big,” Mama said. “They’ve offered about five of us, so this shows they have some faith to come see us. They believe we’ve earned our scholarship offers. The coaching situation there gives me a whole new view. I’m waiting to see who they hire, who they let go, what schemes they change and what happens to the offense. The beginning of the season started off really rocky, so seeing a change was good.”
The same sentiment applies to Wadood, even though he remains solidly committed to Cal. Yet the Trojans figure to continue their push for one of the area’s top overall players and the four-star prospect, in return, will keep his ears open.
“They’re still recruiting me hard, so I want to keep giving them a look,” Wadood said. “I do love Cal a lot. That’s my No. 1 choice right now. But it means a lot for the USC coaches to keep coming around and keep recruiting me. It shows they really want me. Even though I’m committed, I’m not just going to shoo them off. I’m going to treat them with respect and let them recruit me.”
WeAreSC recruiting roundup
With his high school team on its bye week, ESPN 300 offensive guard and Alabama commit Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) was also in attendance at St. John Bosco to support his good friends Mama and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner. The four-star lineman noticed the USC coaches on the sidelines and said he is optimistic about the midseason change, but his pledge to the Crimson Tide remains solid. “I’m excited for the program and really, really excited for the dudes I know who are actually going up to play at USC,” Talamaivao said. “I’m excited for guys like Austin Maloata and Toa Lobendahn because I think it’s going to be a completely new program. This is good for the program, but I’m very strong on my commitment.”
A scholarship offer went out to ESPN 300 quarterback Brad Kaaya (West Hills, Calif./Chaminade) late Sunday night, but the four-star prospect said he remains solidly committed to Miami. Kaaya became only the second quarterback to land an offer from the Trojans, joining fellow Elite 11 finalist Keller Chryst (Palo Alto, Calif./Palo Alto), a Stanford commit. Kaaya picked up an offer from UCLA last week, too, and will likely reassess his situation following the high school season. “It’s awesome to get an offer from USC even though I’m committed,” he said. “I grew up going to all the games and I got kind of crushed when I went to the USC camp my freshman year. I heard a coach in the bathroom say, ‘There’s no future Trojans here.’ That was a long time ago. This means a lot to me and my family.”
No. 1-rated tight end Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) released a top five of Alabama, BYU, Notre Dame, Ole Miss and Wisconsin over the weekend. It was not entirely surprising that USC missed the cut, given the mutual disinterest from both parties. Assistant coach John Baxter was at the La Mirada game on Friday night, but Luatua did not play. According to La Mirada coach Mike Moschetti, Baxter stayed the whole game and was there to see Oklahoma receiver commit Dallis Todd, Cal offensive line commit Michael Trani, 2015 quarterback Kevin Dillman and 2015 lineman Anthony Cerillo.
The St. John Bosco players were not the only attraction Friday night. Martin fixed his camera on 5-foot-10, 176-pound athlete Ajene Harris (Los Angeles/Crenshaw) at times. Harris, who is committed to San Diego State, plays quarterback and defensive back in high school.
According to Talamaivao, Maloata has made the switch from defensive end to defensive tackle in Corona Centennial’s defense. His role in USC’s scheme has yet to be determined, though Maloata has said he hopes to be used at hybrid end and linebacker.
Stanford safety commit Alijah Holder (Oceanside, Calif./Oceanside) has been hearing from USC assistant coach Mike Summers, as well as Orgeron, in recent weeks. The three-star prospect intends to unofficially visit USC on Nov. 16 for the Stanford game, but he might also make the drive north to Los Angeles before then.