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Friday, January 24, 2014
Early Offer: Big weekend for USC

By Jeremy Crabtree

The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: If USC is going to close strong, landing some of this weekend’s 11 official visitors are key; even though neither are going to land him, Alabama and Oregon earned high praise for their recruiting efforts with offensive lineman Braden Smith’s coach; and Lorenzo Carter has become priority No. 1 for several of the Southeast's top teams.

11 recruits set to visit USC

We’re about to find out if Steve Sarkisian is ready to take USC recruiting to the next level. The Trojans are expected to host the mother of all recruiting weekends Friday through Sunday, as some of the top prospects in the country make their way to campus. The headliners in the group are No. 3 athlete John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), No. 1 tight end Bryce Dixon (Ventura, Calif./St. Bonaventure), No. 4 offensive guard Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), No. 6 cornerback Arrion Springs (San Antonio/Roosevelt) and No. 10 defensive tackle Joshua Frazier (Springdale, Ark./Har-Ber). The Trojans are in solid shape with Smith and Mama, and despite being already committed, Dixon is the focus of an intense battle with UCLA. It will also be interesting to see if USC can flip Springs away from his longtime Oregon commitment or persuade Frazier to back away from his Alabama pledge.

Doing their homework

Even though Braden Smith is no longer considering Alabama or Oregon, Olathe (Kan.) South coach Jeff Gourley thought one of the highest moments of his star offensive lineman’s recruiting process was when both the Ducks and Crimson Tide did extensive background checks on the ESPN 300 prospect.

“Alabama and Oregon were the only two schools that did that,” Gourley said. “And Alabama did not offer until we went down there and saw Nick Saban in person. Oregon talked to the AD, the principal and a lot of other folks. They ran a real background check on him. Bless their hearts. The rest of these guys, 'We'll offer even though we've never seen him or talked to anybody about him.' Heck, he could have been a drug dealer. There are still people out there that care about character, and I credit Alabama and Oregon for doing that.”

Smith has narrowed his focus to Auburn, Texas A&M and TCU.

All eyes on Carter

When you’re one of the top uncommitted prospects in the Southeast and there’s less than two weeks left to signing day, you'd better be prepared for a lot of attention. That’s the life five-star defensive end Lorenzo Carter (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) is living right now. All four of Carter's top schools have visited this week. In fact, Florida and Florida State had coaches at his basketball game on Tuesday night, while LSU coach Les Miles met with Carter’s mother on Wednesday. Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was there Thursday, and Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt will make his in-home visit on Monday. Plus, Carter is still planning to take an official visit to FSU this weekend, followed by his last official visit, to Georgia, Jan. 31.