USC head coach Steve Sarkisian finished off his 2014 recruiting campaign with a bang on National Signing Day. With 15 commitments coming into the day, the Trojans had their eye on three of the top four prospects in California. Sarkisian was able to make a clean sweep, as offensive tackle Damien Mama and athletes Adoree’ Jackson and John “JuJu” Smith all signed their letters of intent. All three prospects were given five-star ratings by Scout.com. In addition, the team garnered a commitment from Jacksonville, Fla. defensive back Lamont Simmons, a consensus three-star recruit.
After an exciting finish to his first signing day as USC’s head coach, Sarkisian voiced his enthusiasm.
“It is … a pretty exciting week to be a Trojan,” Sarkisian said. “[It’s like being] in the fourth quarter of a game … and finishing really well.”
The four commitments the Trojans secured on Wednesday vaulted their class into the top 10 nationally. In addition, many scouting services, including ESPN and 247Sports, have the Trojans as the highest-rated group in the Pac-12. The day started early, with Mama out of St. John Bosco-Bellflower announcing his commitment at 8 a.m. Shortly after, Simmons committed. The news continued to get better for the Trojans when Jackson, the versatile athlete out of Serra-Gardena, announced his intention to attend USC. Finally, the day reached its apex with the commitment of Smith, a coveted athlete out of perennial powerhouse Long Beach Poly.
Smith and Jackson added two more dynamic athletes to an already blazing fast 2014 class. Sarkisian placed a strong emphasis on building his program around these types of athletes.
“We needed more receiver/defensive back body types — for offense and defense, and also special teams,” Sarkisian said. “We really nailed it today.”
Smith will start out on the offensive side of the ball, as will recruited athletes Rahshead Johnson and Ajene Harris. Sarkisian was also able to lock up a deep group of talented offensive linemen to complement the multitude of speedsters. Headlined by Mama, Toa Lobendahn and Chris Brown, the class will provide relief for a group that Sarkisian said was “a big position of need just from sheer depth.”
Sarkisian also outlined his formula for recruiting moving forward, finding long, rangy athletes at every position on defense to compete with the fast offenses of the Pac-12. One recruit Sarkisian is especially excited about is Uchenna Nwosu, a local safety from Narbonne High School who could see time as a linebacker.
The staff was able to collaborate effectively with holdovers from the previous coaching regime — Clay Helton and Tee Martin had a major impact on this year’s recruiting class.
“They both did a fantastic job in transition, allowing it to feel almost seamless,” Sarkisian said.
During a lighter moment, Sarkisian praised Helton’s closing ability while complimenting his Southern charm.
USC football’s coaching staff scrambled madly over the last two-and-a-half weeks to put together this class, with impressive results. Overall, USC landed 12 new commitments since Sarkisian was hired, catapulting the Trojans back into the national spotlight.