Kiffin secures Trojans recruits
Pete Carroll's sudden departure from USC could have led to the unraveling of the Trojans' impressive 2010 recruiting class. At the All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 9, the day after news broke that Carroll could be headed for the Seattle Seahawks, Chicago-area wide receiver Kyle Prater decided not to enroll early at USC, opting to fly home and ponder his football future.
The Trojans moved quickly and dramatically with the introduction of Lane Kiffin as head coach just 24 hours after Carroll's farewell news conference, and, in the short term, it appears to have worked on the recruiting trail.
Prater is reportedly in Los Angeles and could officially have enroll Tuesday. Gary Paskweitz from popular Trojan Web site WeAreSC.com says, "That's what I'm hearing. That's what we're expecting."
That would mean Prater's arrival on campus would have been delayed by eight days. He went from confusion and second thoughts to planning a flight to LAX almost overnight after Kiffin's hiring. It helped that he was also heavily recruited by Tennessee and had been planning a visit to Knoxville over the long Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.
There were multiple recruits on campus at USC in the past few days and, Paskweitz tells me, "the best thing that came out of the weekend is that the Trojans kept all of the guys that were committed."
Ryan Abraham from USCFootball.com adds that Lane Kiffin, new defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, and defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron have been extraordinarily well received.
"The new coaching staff has reassured the committed guys who were on campus," says Abraham. "The commits have that warm fuzzy feeling that everything is good with the program."
Among the players who are believed to be "re-committed" are quarterback Jesse Scroggins and safety Dion Bailey, both from Lakewood High School, and a pair of prized tight ends, Randall Telfair from Rancho Cucamonga and Xavier Grimble from Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas.
Scroggins was reportedly on campus with teammate Bailey over the weekend, and he is believed to be critical to the 2010 class. "Especially with the transfer of [Aaron] Corp, USC needed another scholarship quarterback," says Abraham. "With [Mitch] Mustain being a senior, it's important to have another quarterback and Scroggins is a guy that people would talk about as a potential true freshman starter, if it weren't for Matt Barkley."
According to Paskweitz, Scroggins immediately becomes No. 3 on the quarterback depth chart after Barkley and Mustain. He describes him as "the perfect guy for this year" and notes that "he seems willing to sit and develop for two years. He can accept that."
He characterizes the budding Trojan as "a very accurate passer who's a little skinny right now but will grow into a monster."
The other Lakewood product, Bailey, is a prototypical USC-style safety with great size and a nose for the ball. Paskweitz calls him "a Kevin Ellison type," meaning that he's smart and always around the football.
Tight end is a critical weapon in the USC offense, and the program is thin there with Anthony McCoy graduating and only senior Rhett Ellison and junior Blake Ayles returning. Neither committed tight end has wavered. Grimble is the top-rated tight end on the ESPN 150, and he is more of a classic big blocker/big receiver type.
Meanwhile, Telfair is more of an H-back who has the potential to be a dynamic threat in the passing game, and Paskweitz says that he played an active role in reassuring other committed players. "Telfair was very active calling other recruits saying, 'Let's stay together, let's stick with this thing.'"
Steve Mason is a co-host of the "Mason & Ireland" show on 710 ESPN in Los Angeles.