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Tuesday, December 31, 2013
USC's recruiting resolutions for 2014

By Blair Angulo

A new year usually brings new aspirations. But in the recruiting world, hanging up a new calendar signifies the final stretch. It’s the beginning of the end.

Adoree Jackson
No. 7 overall Adoree Jackson would be a big get for USC's coaching staff.
With national signing day just six weeks away, we take a quick glance at potential New Year’s resolutions for USC recruiting:

1. Sign an elite prospect

USC fans want both Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) to become Trojans, but either one would do, really. Whereas the 2013 class had the likes of Su’a Cravens and Max Browne as headliners, the current group lacks similar star power. ESPN 300 members Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and Toa Lobendahn (La Habra, Calif./La Habra) are no slouches, but Jackson and Smith would certainly take the class to the next level. New head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff would like nothing more than to finish strong heading into spring practice and the ever-important 2015 recruiting cycle.

2. Land a tight end

Given the lack of depth at the position, would the Trojans risk passing on a tight end for the second consecutive year? Top target Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure) is set to decide between USC and UCLA on Saturday at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, even though he intends to visit both schools -- USC on Jan. 17 and UCLA on Jan. 24 -- before signing day. If new tight ends coach Marques Tuiasosopo were to whiff on that front, the attention could turn to Notre Dame commit Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada), who recently said he would be open to hearing from the USC staff. Unheralded tight end Jahlani Tavai (Manhattan Beach, Calif./Mira Costa), the younger brother of USC defensive lineman J.R. Tavai, has been in contact with assistant coach Johnny Nansen and would appear to be a fallback option.

3. Handle with care

The decommitment of Kylie Fitts last winter was a public relations nightmare, so Sarkisian might want to steer clear of similar situations in the coming weeks. Three-star receiver Shay Fields Jr. (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) and ESPN 300 defensive end Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) have voiced concern with the lack of communication and might already be setting their sights elsewhere, while commits Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial), Jordan Poland (La Jolla, Calif./Country Day School) and Olajuwon Tucker (Gardena, Calif./Serra) have also scheduled visits to other schools. With only four remaining slots in the 2014 class, a couple decommitments appear imminent, but the Trojans’ staff might have to tread lightly.

4. Pull off a surprise

What better way to regain the attention of local recruits than by raising a few eyebrows? USC was on the losing end of a few flips last February, with cornerback Jalen Ramsey’s switch to Florida State being the biggest blow. The staff will look to prevent a repeat in a few weeks. Will Sarkisian unveil an out-of-state shocker? Will he reel in highly-touted athlete Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central) with dynamic playmaker Marqise Lee seemingly on his way to the NFL? Will UCLA commits Jordan Lasley (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial) ultimately flip to their childhood favorite?

5. Choose a 2015 quarterback

Shortly after signing day, Sarkisian and his staff will shift their focus to the 2015 class and the quarterback position could be the No. 1 priority on the to-do list, even if the Trojans have held a commitment from dual-threat signal-caller David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) for nearly four years. Lane Kiffin and Ed Orgeron had a great relationship with Sills, but they are gone so his future with USC remains in question. Sarkisian wasted no time in identifying Jalen Greene (Gardena, Calif./Serra) as a target, and the coach will have to zero in on a select few in the next couple months, with pocket passer Josh Rosen (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) sure to be a hot topic of that conversation.