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SI: USC recruiting article

Recruiting Watch

Trojans still in hunt for many big-name prospects

Posted: Thursday January 27, 2005 5:46PM; Updated: Thursday January 27, 2005 6:26PM
By Jamie Newberg, Scout.com

With National Signing Day less than a week away, USC is poised to make a big run at a number of big-name prospects. Currently, the Trojans are sitting in the top 10 of the Scout.com National Team Recruiting Rankings while still awaiting word from at least 11 prospects.

If head coach Pete Carroll and his staff stopped today, this would be a good class of players. They have commitments from the nation's top quarterback in Mark Sanchez (Mission Viejo, Calif.) and wide receiver in Patrick Turner (Goodpasture, Tenn.) Sanchez is the nation's most polished quarterback and is well-schooled in all areas of the position. There's no telling his potential under Norm Chow. While the Trojans won a tight recruiting battle with Tennessee for Turner, the 6-5 receiver may visit the Vols this weekend. If that happens, he could change his mind. Turner was arguably the most impressive wide receiver during the week of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in mid-January.

Across the offensive line, USC has landed one of the top junior college offensive linemen in Kevin Myers (Compton, Calif.) Myers was originally committed to LSU but changed his mind with coach Nick Saban left for the Dolphins. Offensive tackle Nick Howell (Fresno, Calif.) has also committed to USC.

USC is looking strong on defense with commitments from several of the nation's elite prospects. Up front, Averell Spicer (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.), the No. 2-rated defensive end, is extremely athletic and really gets after the quarterback. Gabe Long (Fullerton, Calif.) is a five-star JuCo defensive tackle and widely considered the top recruit at that position. Long was the Mission Conference Defensive Player of the Year.

The linebacking corps is led by Rey Maualuga (Eureka, Calif.), the Scout.com's No. 2 linebacker. Maualuga was very impressive during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl week. He's massive, strong, physical and nasty. Maualuga is the middle linebacker that all college coaches covet and is a sideline-to-sideline guy. Kaluka Maiava (Wailuku, Hawaii) is another strong-looking linebacker, with a game similar to Mauluga's.

The secondary is led by two standouts -- cornerback Kevin Thomas (Redondo Beach, Calif.) and safety Will Harris (Covina, Calif.) Thomas is a true cover guy with good size while Harris is considered one of the top safeties in the nation.

Michael Coleman (San Bernardino, Calif.) could play a number of positions for USC, as he is one of the top athletes from the California with the ability to be a running back, safety or linebacker.

The Trojans have also landed one of the nation's top place kickers in Troy Van Blarcom (Orange, Calif.) Each of these athletes are members of Scout.com's National Top 100, and between now and signing day USC will add more. Lets take a closer look at their remaining recruiting board.

A top the list is wide receiver DeSean Jackson (Long Beach, Calif.) Jackson is a sensational playmaker who has narrowed his choices to Cal and USC and claims no leader at this point. Jackson is scheduled to make a signing day decision on Fox Sports West.

Running back Jason Gwaltney (North Babylon, N.Y.) is a powerful inside runner that emerged as one of the nation's most sought-after backs. He made an early decision and committed to West Virginia, but since that commitment he has visited USC, Ohio State and Central Florida. Word from San Antonio during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl was that Gwaltney is heading to the West Coast to play for USC, but his announcement will come Tuesday.

Erik Lorig (Rolling Hills, Calif.) is a tight end prospect that has narrowed his choices to USC, UCLA, Stanford and Cal, although he is scheduled to visit Notre Dame this weekend.

Charles Brown (Pomona, Calif.) is a tight end/offensive tackle prospect that made a soft commitment to USC. He has visited UCLA and will make his firm decision on Sunday between the two Pac-10 rivals.

Cary Harris (Sherman Oaks, Calif.) is another elite defensive back but USC might not be able to turn him. He currently he favors Oregon slightly the Trojans and Cal, but will also announce Wednesday on Fox Sports West.

If USC was closer to home to linebacker Brian Cushing (Oradell, N.J.) he may have already made his decision. He loves the Trojans but distance could play a huge factor in his decision. USC is battling Miami, Florida and Louisville. He could announce Tuesday or Wednesday.

Kyle Moore (Warner Robins, Ga.) is one of the top defensive line prospects from the Southeast. Moore will pick between USC and Miami and will make his decision on Fox Sports Net South's Countdown to Signing Day on Wednesday. Again, distance could play a factor here and the Hurricanes could have the edge.

Walker Ashley (Eden Prairie, Minn.) is another high-rated defensive tackle who's high on USC. The Trojans are battling Penn State for Ashley and his announcement will come on signing day.

Luther Brown (Lakewood, Calif.) is a highly regarded linebacker from California that still has at least four teams in the running -- USC, Arizona, Oklahoma and Miami. He has not said when he plans on making his decision.

Big defensive tackle Ekom Udofia (Scottsdale, Ariz.) has a brother at Stanford and he also like USC and Miami. He was scheduled to announce at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl but said he wasn't quite ready. Right now he plans on announcing Tuesday.

Last but not least is the Scout.com No. 2-rated safety prospect, Reggie Smith (Edmond, Okla.) Smith has enormous pressure to stay home and sign with the Sooners, and he may do that. There is strong sentiment that he could favor Nebraska or perhaps even USC. He has not set an announcement date.

Jackson, Gwaltney, Cushing, Brown and Udofia are all members of the Scout.com National Top 100. The others are very highly rated as well. Tennessee stands atop the team rankings but if USC can land half these uncommitted players, who knows just how far the Trojans can climb by national signing day. It should make for a wild finish.