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The Official USC Trojans Thread


 
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Who Wins?
Ohio State 10 24.39%
Southern California 31 75.61%
Voters: 41. Sorry, you cannot vote on this poll (Boxden members only)

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 7 years ago '10        #951
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New York's College Classic, featuring Syracuse and Southern California, will be televised nationally on ABC. The September 8th game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. It is SU's fifth game in 2012 slated for television and the fourth national broadcast.

The other four Syracuse football games slated for national television at this time are home games against Pittsburgh (Oct. 5) and Connecticut (Oct. 19) selected for ESPN, while SU's game at Minnesota on Sept. 22 will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network and at Temple in the regular season finale on November 23 in a game that will be televised on ESPN or ESPN2.

The rest of the BIG EAST schedule includes games at Rutgers (Oct. 13), at South Florida (Oct. 27) at Cincinnati (Nov. 3) and at home against Louisville (Nov. 10). The University will host Family Weekend when the Orange faces Pittsburgh on October 5.

The remainder of the Orange non-conference schedule features games against Northwestern (Sept. 1) and Stony Brook (Sept. 15) in the Carrier Dome and at Missouri (Nov. 17), in addition to ‘New York’s College Classic’ against USC at MetLife Stadium.

Season tickets can be ordered online and at the Carrier Dome Box Office (888-DOMETIX). All season-ticket holders have the opportunity to purchase ticket s to Syracuse’s game against USC at MetLife Stadium at a specially-priced rate via their MyCuse accounts.

 7 years ago '04        #952
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hearing Jesse Scroggins didn't make the grades this semester

reached that 75 limit

 7 years ago '10        #953
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 bouncer900 said
hearing Jesse Scroggins didn't make the grades this semester

reached that 75 limit
I was hoping for big these from that brotha I just KNEW he would be next after Barkley. Maybe I just wanted to see another brotha under center. I was really pulling for dude Best of luck to em though wherever he lands

 7 years ago '10        #954
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Thursday night sent Twitter ablaze, as two separate message board posts behind pay walls at Rivals and 24/7 had titles suggesting that a USC quarterback was departing Troy. After hours of speculation, 24/7 Sports’ Scott Schrader publicly mentioned on Twitter that the reported departing player was redshirt sophomore QB Jesse Scroggins. As of this time, it is not clear yet where he will transfer to, nor has the breaking story been confirmed by the university.
Scroggins, a highly-touted recruit out of Lakewood, California came into USC with an arsenal of awards in his pocket. He was an Under Armour All-American, Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American, he was named to the Prep Star Dream Team, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first team, Cal-Hi Sports All-State second team, All-CIF Pac-5 Division first team and All-Moore League MVP as a senior quarterback, to name a few.But since he joined the Trojan program in 2010, he has not lived up to expectations.
He redshirted during his freshman year, and after that he served as one of three quarterbacks vying for time behind Matt Barkley. Scroggins underwent thumb surgery during fall camp, which curtailed his progression and allowed then-incoming freshmen Max Wittek and Cody Kessler time to get up to speed. Once he recovered, he played in only one game during the 2011 season, taking the final snap in USC’s contest against Washington. He did not, however, throw a pass.
To make matters worse for Scroggins, he did not participate in spring ball, and coach Lane Kiffin said that it was so Scroggins could focus on and improve his grades.
Recently grades were posted at USC, and it is being reported that Scroggins would have been ruled academically ineligible. While this does not come as a huge surprise, it is really unfortunate for USC and for Scroggins because he had a cannon. His arm strength was unparalleled by the other back up QBs.
On the bright side, with Scroggins leaving the program this does free up a scholarship for USC, and we all know scholarships are like unicorns around USC these days. An extra scholarship would definitely help USC in this next recruiting cycle as the Trojans search to field a new roster of talent.

 7 years ago '10        #956
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Hutchings retweeted Davis saying "USC here I come"

 7 years ago '10        #957
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CHICAGO – Snoop Dogg’s passion for USC football is undeniable, but who knew his fandom went as far following the Trojans’ recruiting?

[+] Enlarge

Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.com
USC-bound RB Ty Isaac has some famous fans awaiting his arrival.
After Snoop Dogg threw out a first pitch for the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Park on Thursday, he didn’t blink when he was asked about recent USC commitment Ty Isaac, a junior running back at Chicago-suburban Joliet Catholic Academy.

“I heard about him,” Snoop Dogg said. “Isaac. That’s a great pick up for SC. It’s tailback university. I heard he’s a great running back. That’s a great fit for him, you know what I’m saying. Coming into that tradition, take him to the next level really fast.”

Isaac was surprised to hear Snoop Dogg knew his name.

“That’s tight him knowing who I am,” Isaac said by phone.


Isaac, who is 6-2 and 215 pounds, recently chose the Trojans over Michigan and Auburn. He was the 2011 ESPNChicago.com Offensive Player of the Year and is ranked No. 68 in the ESPNU 150.
Isaac rushed for 2,629 yards and 41 touchdowns on 203 carries and caught 16 passes for 369 yards and six touchdowns during his junior season. He rushed for a state-record 515 yards and six touchdowns in a 70-45 loss to Montini in the Class 5A state championship.

 7 years ago '10        #958
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Want this kid Elijah to commit badly along with Eddie Vanderdoes from Sac


[video - click to view]



Talk about a football player.


Last edited by USC; 05-27-2012 at 12:58 PM..

 7 years ago '04        #960
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 USC said
Hutchings retweeted Davis saying "USC here I come"

 7 years ago '10        #961
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"When life gives you lemons, add Cardinal and #f!ghtOn"

"Love the road but missing my boys! #trojanfamily #gogettas #f!ghton" :

I <3 Tee Martin


[pic - click to view]


 7 years ago '04        #962
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only 92 more days to go


Sept 1st

 7 years ago '10        #963
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Staying in the a.m.

There was some talk about USC reconsidering the early-morning fall practice times but that's all it was, just talk. The Trojans will return to morning practices after going in the afternoon last spring. It's definite -- and decided.

What isn't decided, we understand, are the personnel for both the radio broadcasts and P.A. person at the Coliseum for games. They're still working on it, we've been told. No decisions have been finalized as of yet.

What a difference a week makes

The word on whether Jesse Scroggins was gone, or not, hadn't surfaced even a little bit last Friday. Until a late post on the Peristyle. And over the holiday weekend, no one on or near the team we talked to had a sense of what was going on -- if anything. Scroggins leaving the team? It was news to them.

But no longer. With players back for summer school and working out, the tune has changed. He's gone. Absolutely. Unequivocally. No coming back. That's the unofficial word now. Through channels, USC has been asked to make an official statement or even one on background. And the silence has been deafening thus far. No one is going on the record. So it's not official until it is official.

But it certainly seemed headed that way for the redshirt sophomore quarterback who, if he transfers to an FBS school and has to sit out, will have two seasons of eligibility. If he goes the FCS route and drops down a classification, he'd be eligible immediately and have three years to play. Which after a fall and spring that saw him hampered by injuries and academics both semesters, is what the strong-armed young man from Lakewood needs to do.

This has been a tough year for Jesse, who seemed to alternate between being upbeat and f!ghting through things to down in the dumps, especially when another injury kicked in like the spring hip problem that limited his opportunities to get in the competition with Cody Kessler and Max Wittek. Did he make some mistakes? Sure. Will we be sorry to see him go? Not if it's the best thing for him and his career. He can get it together and give himself a chance to play on Sundays. But even moreso, he needs to give himself a chance to finish his college career strong, on and off the field.

It's not like college basketball, where the transfer stats now tell us 40 percent of men players are at a different school than where they started out by the end of their second year. There are times when moving on is the best way to go.

Speaking of transfers

Does it get any better, any more bureaucratically pitch-perfect than the statement this week from NCAA Pres. Mark Emmert on the way members feel about the current transfer rules and rulings, that clearly aren't working -- or fair. And even less transparent. But in trying to walk that line of offending no one, the NCAA bozz sounded like The Onion had written his statement.

"Some people think transfers are too restrictive, others think it's too easy, and some think it's just right," Emmert said in his best nursery rhyme riff. "There's a lot of things going on."

Well, of course there is (are). Amir Carlisle heads to Notre Dame and he can play right away. Kyle Prater goes to Northwestern and so far, he's sitting out a year. And the difference is . . . ?

But Emmert kept talking, unfortunately, and said this just to show what side the NCAA powers come down on: "You don't want a coach to do his recruiting by sitting on his couch and watching TV and saying, 'Oh, that kid looks unhappy sitting on the bench. I'm going to recruit him.' "

Why the hell not? If a "kid" is unhappy, and "on the end of the bench," shouldn't he be allowed, even encouraged, to go where there's a place for him to play -- and someone wants him. We know, what a concept. A world where the student-athlete actually does come first and is not just a prop for folks with the real power who don't want to be inconvenienced.

And just one more NCAA take

We know, it's hard for some to stomach this off-the-field stuff but the announcement that the NCAA has a committee, with USC's own Pat Haden a prominent member, reworking the penalty structure in a move to show the NCAA is really going to get serious about rules-breakers now has us puzzled. As did Haden's comment that if the Trojan case came along now, they'd really hit USC hard.

Not that the NCAA couldn't have done the same with the organized cheaters at Ohio State and North Carolina, if it wanted to. It just didn't. But by this summer, get ready, the rulesbreakers are going to get nailed for up to 44 scholarships for "major" violations -- and really big fines that are a percentage of the athletic budget. With the definition of "major" being "out West," we think. And they're going to enlarge the Committee on Infractions (insert your own Paul Dee reference here) to maybe 24 members.

Well, here's our take. The one group the NCAA had better enlarge immediately if this goes through, is its in-house legal staff because those kinds of penalties inflicted by the agenda-driven, integrity-lacking, conflict-of-interest folks who will populate the COI may finally have schools looking at the reasonableness of lawsuits.

Imagine you're told your football team will have to go through a season with half as many scholarship players as the rest of the teams on your schedule. And you're told to do so by people like Mark ("I think they got it right") Emmert who said something else this week: "Obviously, our responsibility is to do everything we can with current understanding of health and welfare to maximize the safety of student-athletes. I don't know 20 years ago what the level of science was in understanding injuries, and I sure don't know what it was 40 years ago. But what we can do is say, 'Look, what's our best understanding of injuries today, and what can we do to maximize the welfare of our student-athletes?'

And then he joins hands with the COI and sentences some schlub program without the clout of the SEC or Ohio State to go through a season with no safety net whatsoever -- and barely a two-deep roster. You think these people actually care a whit for the health and safety of athletes? You think they've run the idea of severely limiting a team's scholarships past physicians and trainers who understand football for the health and safety implications? How smart would you have to be to do that? Much smarter than the average NCAA committee person or staffer, apparently.

Tressel, McNair, "Whatever's fair'

OK, that "Whatever's fair" quote came from longtime Big Ten Commissioner Wayne Duke when he was forced to answer as to what he was going to do to discipline Ohio State's Woody Hayes for one of his occasional moments running off the rails. Duke didn't want to do a thing and didn't in the end, but he had an answer at Big Ten Media Day. What was he going to do? "Whatever's fair."

Which made us wonder this week when now University of Akron administrator Jim Tressel was speculating on an interview with the Cleveland Plain-Dealer as to how soon it would be that he would "maybe one day he could dot the 'i' with the Buckeyes' band . . . I wouldn't call it a goodbye," Tressel said. "I would say, 'Hey, we'll see you soon.' "

So let's get this straight. Tressel, caught redhanded doing a little bit of everything the NCAA manual forbids, got another college job almost immediately and can't wait until he's back with the Buckeyes. While McNair, who no one, not even at the NCAA, really believes has been proven to have done anything wrong, has no college employment offers or opportunities to return and a lawsuit is his lone way back.

So you want a 4-team playoff

OK, now come up with one when all the SEC cares about is getting a second team in the final four, hoiwever they can. Because, of course, they're the best, the SEC coaches told us last week. And yet, trying to come up with a formula for putting this together makes the Arab-Israeli peace process look like a snap. Strength of schedule? Are you kidding?

While the Pac-12 is staying at nine conference games and adding an annual Big Ten opponent, the SEC, despite adding Missouri and Texas A&M, is staying at eight while trying to remove league rivals from their schedules. LSU's Les Miles said he didn't want Florida to be his crossover rival from the othere division any more. He'd like a really bad team, please.


But Ole Miss says it only wants Vandy in that role. And Kentucky and Mississippi State say they love the idea of being each other's permanent crossover rival. Just as long as they can keep playing eight home games against the likes of Nicholls State, Presbyterian, Wofford, James Madison, Georgia State.

You figure out how to put those two together. We can't.

Hutch and Such

Concord (Calif.) linebacker Michael Hutchings set Trojan fans a buzz with Twitter this week. As detailed a story Thursday, Hutchings retweeted five-star linebacker Jaylon Smith’s comment about going to college together. The two have had discussions about playing together, but sources say that Smith’s tweet wasn’t what many fans thought it was.

Word around the recruiting water cooler is that Smith isn’t particularly fond of Hutchings and his pro USC attitude. Unknowingly, Hutchings was talking up the Trojans to a big time Notre Dame lean. The result, reading between the lines, is that Smith sent out a sarcastic, if not chastising tweet about playing together.

So what about Hutchings? Lackluster camp performances have raised doubt within the fan base about his place among the 2013. Lane Kiffin does not appear to agree. As of now, USC is still after Hutchings and still want him to be a fixture in the 2013 class. That should happen in July if his trip to Washington this weekend doesn’t blow him away. Hutchings said as much, and in unpublished quotes from his interview this week, the four-star linebacker called USC the team to beat. At this point, he wants to take visits to see if any second thoughts arise.

Daniels No. 1

USC has been eager to evaluate Oakley (Calif.) four-star receiver Darrell Daniels, but a hamstring injury has kept him sidelined for much of spring football. This week, USC a.ssistant coach Clay Helton did make it to Oakley to watch Daniels go through a light work out. The review was good, and Helton came away telling the Freedom High School coaching staff that Daniels was a “must get.”

That opinion isn’t shared by all, so it will be interesting to see how Daniels performs at the USC Skills Camp June 10. Daniels, for his part, is saying the right things about USC behind closed doors, but is also high on Washington. The Huskies are feeding his ego with plenty of No. 1 receiver talk, and while USC is doing the same, the Trojans have a much more ominous depth chart than Washington. Daniels thinks a lot of his own ability, but some times kids all full of false bravado. On the flips side, if Daniels goes to the skills camp and flops, his hesitation to commit will cost him. USC is looking at other wide outs, and are nursing a couple of out of state prospects below the radar.

Qualls Wavering, or USC Wavering?

Word around Northern California is that Pentaluma (Calif.) three-star defensive tackle Elijah Qualls has USC and Washington as his top two college choices, with the Huskies Tosh Lupoi making a hard push to sway him away from the Trojans. Lupoi would be his position coach in college, and has a long standing relationship with Qualls.

Qualls likes USC as a school more than Washington, but there are two big issues giving him second thoughts about the Trojans. Issue one is grades, as Qualls has to improve in that area this summer to be on track to qualify. Issue two is playing time. While Qualls likes USC’s winning tradition, he does feel he would have a better chance to play early at Washington. With all that said, Lane Kiffin has yet to speak to Qualls about his scholarship offer. That in itself could be telling. When USC goes full court press, Kiffin is always involved with closing the deal.

Shutting it Down

For the past few weeks, we’ve speculated on the prospects of USC recruiting a third running back in the class of 2013. We were doubtful USC would do so, and according to a source close to four-star running back Ty Isaac, it’s a done deal. According to this source, USC told Isaac they would only take two running backs in the class of 2013, Isaac and one other players, which turned out to be Stockton (Calif.) four-star Justin Davis.

Furthermore, four-star running back Kelvin Taylor was also set to attend the Rising Stars Camp in June. Taylor is a Florida commit whose father, Fred, is close with USC running backs coach Kennedy Polamalu. Those plans have been canceled, and again, the buzz is that USC will not take another running back in this class. While they will entertain a few local running backs at the camp, no new scholarship offers are anticipated unless Isaac or Davis waver. That appears unlikely according to those close to Isaac and Davis is an early enrollee candidate that says he will not take any official visits next fall.

Kamara Karma

So what does this mean for Norcross (Ga.) four-star running back Alvin Kamara, who was scheduled to unofficially visit USC last weekend? That has yet to be determined. Kamara told USCFootball.com last week that he had no visited USC, but still intended on visiting Los Angeles. Kamara’s sister lives in Southern California. USC is still in contact with the running back, but it is possible he could be recruited as a slot receiver. Right now, the direction of his recruitment is unclear.

Unofficial Visit List

USC is set to host an impressive list of out-of-state visitors this summer. Some will attend the Rising Stars Camp in late June, so will just unofficially visit campus.

Four-star linebacker Trey Johnson, five-star linebacker Reuben Foster, five-star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, four-star cornerback Mackensie Alexander, four-star linebacker Jaylon Smith and four-star running back Alvin Kamara.


Last edited by USC; 06-03-2012 at 10:21 AM..

 7 years ago '04        #964
bouncer900 
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In other news George Farmer was bite on the arm by a Brown recluse spider a few days ago...

I hope that sh*t doesn't turn out like them google images of bite wounds

 7 years ago '10        #965
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 bouncer900 said
In other news George Farmer was bite on the arm by a Brown recluse spider a few days ago...

I hope that sh*t doesn't turn out like them google images of bite wounds
w...............t.......................f......... ...................................

 7 years ago '04        #966
bouncer900 
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welcome aboard Su'a Cravens

 7 years ago '10        #967
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[video - click to view]


HUGE get, knew he was Trojan all the way but man what a get. This class is going to be ridiculous. Off the charts.

 6 years ago '10        #968
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Steven Mitchell Welcome aboard

 6 years ago '04        #969
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[video - click to view]


 6 years ago '04        #970
bouncer900 
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Also Jordan Poland class of 2014 committed 6-foot-8, 335-pound


Last edited by bouncer900; 06-10-2012 at 11:43 PM..

 6 years ago '04        #971
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Toa Lobendahn committed class of 2014 6'4 270 ot

 6 years ago '10        #972
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hopefully Banner & Poland can also come in and join the basketball team

 6 years ago '04        #973
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 USC said
hopefully Banner & Poland can also come in and join the basketball team


you just reminded me of that bullsh*t last season

 6 years ago '04        #974
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Sebastian Larue WR/DB Commits

[video - click to view]


 6 years ago '10        #975
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ATLANTA -- The heart of SEC country provided an odd location for the first gathering of USC's star-studded 2013 recruiting class.

Eight players verbally committed to USC are participating in this weekend's inaugural Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.

No other school has more than five of its verbal commitments here.

Many of USC's commitments showed early signs of school spirit Saturday by flashing the "f!ght On" hand signal -- raising two fingers in a "V" for victory -- while all the campers posed for a group picture during a practice break.



Eldridge Massington is part of USC's contingent at the Rivals Challenge.
"We were just trying to say that we're here and we'll be the best group out there," Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln running back and Rivals100 prospect Justin Davis said. "We're trying to represent that really strong."

USC's large contingent at this event provided the latest evidence that NCAA sanctions aren't preventing the Trojans from attracting elite prospects. It also reflected a recent change in USC's recruiting strategy.

When he began his USC coaching tenure, Lane Kiffin made a clear effort to focus on in-state prospects. More than three-quarters of USC's signees in Kiffin's first three recruiting classes came directly from California high schools or junior colleges.

USC now is branching out a little more.

Four of USC's 10 verbal commitments from 2013 are from outside California, and the out-of-state recruits are scattered across the country. Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline's Max Browne, the nation's top pro-style quarterback prospect, represents the Pacific Northwest.

The East Coast is covered by five-star defensive end Kenny Bigelow, who grew up in Delaware and now plays for Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy. Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite wide receiver Eldridge Massington gives the class a Texas flavor. The Midwest is represented by Joliet (Ill.) Catholic running back Ty Isaac.

"Traditionally, they had gone national and had extended across the country," Rivals.com West recruiting analyst Adam Gorney said. "Then they went local. I think what happened (this year) is they kind of reached out again and found success.''

Bigelow, Browne and Massington are in Atlanta this weekend.

They're joined by Davis, Redlands (Calif.) East Valley defensive end Kylie Fitts, Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) cornerback Chris Hawkins, Santa Monica (Calif.) wide receiver [/db]Sebastian LaRue[/db] and Mission Hills (Calif.) wide receiver Steven Mitchell.

The only players in USC's class missing from Atlanta are Isaac and Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta five-star safety Su'a Cravens.

"This is the first time I've been able to meet some of these guys," Browne said. "It's a cool experience. The recruiting class USC has put together so far is really special. For all of us to come together, meet each other and hang out, it's really fun."

Browne also might have met a few future teammates who aren't committed to USC yet.

Uncommitted prospects at the Five-Star Challenge considering USC include Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) safety Tahaan Goodman, Seffner (Fla.) Armwood safety Leon McQuay, Houston (Texas) Alief Taylor defensive end Torrodney Prevot, Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy athlete Jalen Ramsey and Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy offensive guard Khaliel Rodgers.

Muscle Shoals (Ala.) defensive end Dee Liner is committed to Auburn, but he's making an unofficial visit to USC next week.

Prevot also is visiting USC next week and received a faxed message from Trojans defensive line coach Ed Orgeron after arriving at his Atlanta hotel Friday.

Although the makeup of USC's class suggests the Trojans are expanding their base again, they're doing it differently than before.

This marks the second of three years that NCAA sanctions have limited USC to 15 scholarships, though a few early enrollees should allow the Trojans to include as many as 18 players in this class. So USC is being very picky in deciding which out-of-state players merit scholarship offers.

"That's how they've kind of tweaked their recruiting," Gorney said. "They would go and take a chance on a guy from out of state before. Now they're pinpointing the guys they really want from out of state and going after those guys. They're not throwing 50 offers to out-of-state guys anymore."

USC's success rate is startling.

All four of USC's out-of-state recruits are ranked among the nation's top 150 prospects. Three of them are in the top 24: Browne (No. 5), Bigelow (No. 6) and Isaac (No. 24). USC has three of the top eight 2013 recruits overall in Browne, Bigelow and Cravens (No. 8). All 10 of USC's verbal commitments are ranked 162nd or better.

NO SLEEPERS HERE
All 10 of the 2013 prospects verbally committed to USC are ranked among the nation's top 162 recruits. Players at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge are in bold.
Pos. Player High school Rank
DE Kenny Bigelow Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian 6
QB Max Browne Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline 5
S Su'a Cravens Murrieta (Calif.) Vista Murrieta 8
RB Justin Davis Stockton (Calif.) Lincoln 41
DE Kylie Fitts Redlands (Calif.) East Valley 97
CB Chris Hawkins Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) 78
RB Ty Isaac Joliet (Ill.) Catholic 24
WR Sebastian LaRue Santa Monica (Calif.) 162
WR Eldridge Massington Mesquite (Texas) West Mesquite 141
WR Steven Mitchell Mission Hills (Calif.) Bishop Alemany 63
"We're probably not going to have any three-stars, which is kind of unheard of," Davis said.

How have they done it?

By going 10-2 and finishing sixth in The a.ssociated Press poll last season, USC regained the momentum that had stalled in the summer of 2010 with the arrival of probation.

USC followed that up in February by signing the nation's eighth-ranked recruiting class.

Rather than worrying about the long-term effects of sanctions, USC's recruiting targets consider themselves honored they're among the select group to receive scholarship offers from the Trojans.

"They only had 18 scholarships," Mitchell said. "(For them) to be interested in me, that's a great feeling." USC also has found out-of-state players who didn't mind leaving home and savored the chance to play for the Trojans.

Browne said he was advised early in the recruiting process to pick the school where he'd feel happy even if football didn't exist. He found that comfort level at USC.

Bigelow picked USC after establishing a rapport with Orgeron.

Massington, a longtime Reggie Bush fan, thought USC's offense suited his game perfectly.

"USC is the best fit for me," Massington said. "I feel they'll always have a (good) quarterback. They'll always have good receivers. I feel it's the best pro-style offense. It's the best offense for me."

Massington's chances of succeeding in this offense will depend in part on how soon he establishes a rapport with Browne and his other new teammates.

He's watched plenty of video highlights online of Brown and other members of USC's recruiting class, but this marked the first time he'd seen many of them in person.

In many ways, this weekend represents the equivalent of a freshman orientation session a year ahead of schedule. "We're all in a hotel room just hanging out and becoming better friends," Hawkins said. "Some of us are more spread out (across the country). This is an opportunity for us to become better friends and get that connection we need at the next level."

They cherished the opportunity -- even if it came thousands of miles from their future home.

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