Print and Go Back ESPN: SportsNation

January 8, 5:00 PM ET
Chat with Garry Paskwietz

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:00 PM)

Welcome everyone, let's get started.

Scott (Mariposa )

Hi Garry- will be away from the computer so can't chat at 2, but with the Jr's departing for the NFL, does that open up those spots for additional scholarship offers? The restrictions allow for 15, plus the 4 holdovers for a total of 19, but if people leave, or are dismissed for cause, aren't those slots now available, or is 15 the number no matter what? Thanks for the answer and all your valuable insight.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:02 PM)

That 19 number is a hard number, no matter how many players depart early for the NFL. That is a tough part of the penalty, especially since the Trojans have 5 players who have already decided to leave. No way to sugarcoat that as a tough blow.

Aaron (Baltimore MD)

Hello Gary,Do you see us going to 20 or 22 recruits since we have 17 now?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:04 PM)

No, there is no way to go above the 19 number (4 early signees, 15 on LOI day). I do think there might be some shuffling of players who had committed to the previous staff, that can often happen when a new staff comes in, and they may end up elsewhere while Sark brings others in.

Eric (Los Angeles)

Hi Garry,Couple questions:1) what do you think our chances for Jackson, smith and mama are? If you were to guess, do we get 2 out of 3?2) I noticed sc had offered to an Oregon CB yesterday's and was wondering if you saw any surprise flips coming?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:07 PM)

As we sit here today I think the Trojans get all 3. I think Smith is the most likely, the latest info I hear on Mama is positive for the Trojans and my hunch for the past few weeks has been that Adoree' will end up a Trojan, even though I acknowledge that Adoree' is the most up in the air of the group. Arrion Springs is the Oregon CB commit, I think you have to look at that trio of former Texas DL commits and think that it's possible SC may get something with the Bo Davis connection. I thought it was a strong statement for Davis that 3 players from his position group de-committed on the day it was announced he was going elsewhere.

Jay (Los Angeles)

How worried are you if Clancy Pendergast is offered the same position within the Pac-12 conference (Oregon)? We know what he can do with USC limited roster...

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:08 PM)

I think a lot of Clancy and it would be a great pick-up for Oregon. He took a Trojan defense that was in the middle of the conference and in one year turned it into the top defense in the conference. What more do you need to say?

Justin (Ukiah )

Is the Bo Davis hiring a direct attempt to make inroads with Texas recruits since Charlie Strong is not a "Texas Guy?"

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:10 PM)

That isn't the only reason he was hired but it sure is a nice part of his resume. By all accounts he is a solid coach in the area of player development and he's got a recruiting base in an area that is strong for defensive linemen, especially interior players. The west coast isn't traditionally known for producing interior d-linemen so that part of Davis' background is very appealing.

Kody davis (Redondo Beach)

Has the Matthew Thomas boat sailed on coming to USC? Also who do you see losing the scholi if we get commits from smith mama and adoree?? Thanks for te hard work

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:10 PM)

Yes, that ship has sailed on Thomas, he was at FSU this year.

Sam (Glendale)

Hi Garry. Happy New Year! Do you think we should use a "10-win" season to measure Steve Sark performance as USC HC next season regardless early departure from underclassmen?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:14 PM)

I don't know that it's a specific number but I think Sark understands the reality when he said it's not a rebuilding year. He knows that a certain level of result is expected now, not so much a number but a level of play within the program. I do think the issue of having to replace the early departures is a legitimate concern too. The players the Trojans have lost were all big producers and there just isn't going to be a way to replace that with the final year of the roster limitations.

Trojanproud (Yucaipa)

I am so thankful for the Bryce Dixon commit. However, with Grimble leaving, do you think we go after Tyler Luatua now?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:16 PM)

I'm with you on the Dixon commit, that was a really big one for the Trojans. I don't know if things are over just yet though with the Bruins making a run but I would rather be the school holding the verbal at this point. I would be a little surprised if there is room for a 2nd tight end with scholarships getting tight.

noise tanielu (American samoa)

Talofa G.P........ clancy.p did a heck of a job on usc defense why fix something if it'snot broke? I understand we had some bad games regarding our Do but he made usc defense in to the top 10 in the country.....your thoughts please.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:18 PM)

Talofa - More than anything it was a case of Sarkisian wanting to bring in his guy in Justin Wilcox. I don't think it was any reflection on Clancy because the work Pendergast did in one year speaks for itself. There were multiple players who also made it clear that they didn't understand why Pendergast didn't stay, especially when he coached the defense to the top ranking in the conference.

Trojanproud (Yucaipa)

What is the latest on the status of Walker and Pullard? Staying or leaving?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:19 PM)

Walker staying, Pullard no announcement yet.

David (Vancouver)

Garry, do you expect any other underclassmen to move on to the NFL?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:22 PM)

Hayes Pullard and Buck Allen are still possibilities. I wouldn't say I expect either guy to leave but both are still considering the option.

Tarik LaCour (Salt Lake City, Utah)

What do you think of putting Su'a Cravens as an MLB in a 3-4, similar to Myles Jack? Su'a and Myles have very similar playing styles

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:25 PM)

I think it's possible he could end up as an OLB in that type of scenario. Sarkisian used Shaq Thompson is that kind of role last year at Washington.

Dr.P (Frozen Wastelands of Upstate NY)

Saw on the boards today that Bo Davis recruited Trey Lealaimatafao (DT from San Antonio) to Tejas and the big guy may be interested in the Trojans. Does Bo Know? Unhook'em horns!

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:25 PM)

Trey isn't the only one who might be taking a look. Both Courtney Garrett and Derick Roberson de-committed from Texas as well and could be in play.

steve (camarillo)

Do you think Max Brown will get a real shot at qb? What's your quess at o line starters?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:29 PM)

I do think Sark will have the quarterback competition be as open as possible in the spring but I still think Kessler comes away with the job. As far as the line is concerned, I really think it's a guess to try and predict the starters since a new coach will be coming from the NFL and the players will be starting from scratch with him. But if I had to guess, I'll go with Wheeler at LT, Jordan Simmons at LG, a new center from the group of Hobbi, Rodgers, Lobendahn or Talamaivao, the RG is Walker and the RT is Tuerk.

RC (Los Angeles)

Do you see A. Walker staying or going pro? Do you see Banner, Simmonds and Townsend Jr making an impact next season? Were they injured most of this past season?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:30 PM)

Walker has already made posts on his Instagram account which state that he is returning. All the other 3 you mention were all hurt last year, I would put Simmons as the most likely to make an impact, then Townsend, then Banner.

Scott (Los Angeles)

Is the 2014 season the last year of scholarship reductions and roster limits? If so, then what is the max number of recruits USC can offer for 2015 to get the roster number back up?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:31 PM)

Yes, the class which will be signed next month is the last recruiting class to be limited to 15, and the 2014 season is the last to be limited to a 75 man roster. The Trojans will be able to offer 25 scholarships for the class of 2015.

RC (Los Angeles)

how do you see Coach Sark's recruiting of this year's incoming class? has he filled many of the holes and needs for this team with this incoming class? Thank you.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:34 PM)

I think Sark has done a real solid job, which is no surprise. He's known as a good recruiter and he knows the Southern California landscape. The fact that he filled those 4 early signee spots was key, he's filled a few needs since then and now he's positioning things to finish strong with guys like Mama, Juju and possibly Adoree'.

Mike (Superior Wisc)

Who does it look like will be the possible decommitts? We can not keep everyone and still get the three locals guys and possibly another db?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:35 PM)

I think it's realistic to say that there will probably be some de-commits or players who decide to move on if they don't think they still have a place in the class. Shay Fields is one player who has made it clear he will take other trips because he isn't sure of his status.

RC (Los Angeles)

Hi Garry! Happy New Year. Xavier Grimble's decision to go pro - did you see that coming? I thought he would stay one more year and blossom under Coach Sark. Your thoughts. Thank you.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:37 PM)

Yes, I was surprised. As you mention, the fact that Sark coached the Mackey Award winner last year was something that I figured would be very appealing to a tight end like Grimble. I thought a healthy Grimble could really have benefitted from that and maybe put up numbers that would have gotten him a higher draft selection.

John (Compton, CA)

Do you get a sense of the coaching staff getting frustrated with all the drama surrounding recruiting these days, or do they just accept it as a sign of the times?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:38 PM)

if you want to be a college coach you better accept it. There have been many examples of coaches who burned out on it, or NFL guys who came to college and realized they didn't like it, but there aren't too many college coaches who have earned the right not to do it.

Aaron (Maryland )

Can we go over 19 recruits since so many JR are leaving for the draft

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:38 PM)

no

Donald (Louisville)

It seems we have been building serious momentum with adoree Jackson! What are your thoughts about this?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:40 PM)

I agree and i've felt that way ever since Sarkisian took over. Adoree' has always shown interest in SC as one of the schools on his consideration list and he's been very deliberate about the process. But in the last few weeks it just seems as if there has been a little more interest in the Trojans. Florida is a school that still gets mentioned a lot but as of right now i think the Trojans are the team to beat.

Tony (Richmond, CA)

What recruits other than Jackson and Mama are high on the Sarkisian wish list?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:43 PM)

Obviously a JuJu Smith is right there too. Others would include Tee Sheppard and Miciah Quick, along with a recent offer to CB Arrion Springs.

Diamondjacque (san diego)

What role will the fullbacks play in Sark's offense? It would be a shame to reduce the underrated Soma Vainukul to a backup role, especially with the possibility of Buck Allen going pro.

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:45 PM)

Sark has said there can be a role for a fullback in his offense but there hasn't been a detailed thought on how that would happen. I think it's a legit question that you raise because of how impactful Soma became as part of the USC offense last year.

JD (NJ)

I saw you mention Tee Shepard a few weeks back, is there any info on what he's doing or if he wants to play again?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:47 PM)

Tee will be on campus for an official visit on January 24th. Right now the Trojans appear to have a solid shot to land him.

Ben (Culver City)

I'm still skeptical of the incoming defensive staff, but I must say I am very excited about the additions of Bo Davis and Tim Drevno. USC's play at the line of scrimmage has been lacking for a few year, I'm excited to see it get back to form. So speaking of -- who do you see filling the gaps in our lines with the departure of Martin, Graf, and Martinez (and Uko, for that matter)?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:50 PM)

Drevno is the hire that really got my attention. I think that's a clear signal to the type of physical run game that Sark wants to see, he even stressed on the Trojans Live radio show last night that he and Drevno share that kind of philosophy. On the o-line, I could see Jordan Simmons being a key guy to fill in for some of the losses but obviously the center spot is huge and I just don't know yet who will step up there. It should be fascinating to watch in spring. On the d-line, the good news is that there should be some solid depth along the interior, even with the loss of Uko. Guys like Bigelow, Simmons, Pelon and Townsend will be available, possibly even Tavai depending on where they put him.

Don (Berkeley, CA)

Which Trojan early draft declaration surprised you the most?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:52 PM)

Grimble. Just because of how much he stood to gain in this offense which uses the tight end so much. Marcus Martin surprised me too.

Greg (SF)

Any improvements to the Coliseum happening this offseason?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:54 PM)

There hasn't been anything announced. The last I heard they were planning to get things going this off-season after Heritage Hall is re-opened and there should be some changes taking place for 2014 but nothing really big. I think if they just did new seats for next year, that would be something that would go over really well.

Shamari (Long Beach)

Does Browne have more talent than Kessler?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:56 PM)

it's a subjective viewpoint. If you strictly base it off high school rankings and that sort, Browne was certainly the higher ranked prospect. But Kessler has something that Browne simply doesn't have yet, a year's worth of solid production as the USC quarterback. That counts for an awful lot. And also remember that Sark recruited Kessler hard to Washington so that means there was a point where Sark thought Kessler was a pretty good fit for him.

G-dog (Los Angeles)

What was the thinking behind picking up a QB since we have other position needs that are more of a priority?

Garry Paskwietz
  (5:58 PM)

I could definitely justify taking a QB in this class. I think it's always a good idea to have 4 QB's on a roster whenever possible and right now SC only has 3. And that's not counting the possibility of a transfer, even though that doesn't appear likely, or an injury.

Ben (Culver City)

Buck Allen requested a draft evaluation... should we be worried?

Garry Paskwietz
  (6:00 PM)

I don't get the sense it has crossed the point of being a worry just yet but the fact that he requested the evaluation is interesting. Definitely a situation worth watching.

uscmike5524 (Rancho Cucamonga)

Do you think Grimble leaving affects Bryce Dixon?

Garry Paskwietz
  (6:00 PM)

If anything I would think it helps cement SC in Dixon's mind because now there is even more opportunity.

Garry Paskwietz
  (6:01 PM)

Thanks everyone for coming, good chat today. I know we didn't get to all the questions but we just ran out of time. We will do this again next week.