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October 28, 2011

A Big Game, Unofficially



Ellis McCarthy | California's No. 1 ranked prospect for 2012

MORE ON GAMEDAY: David vs. Goliath | Big game week No. 2 for USC | Stanford Preview

USC has yet to host an official visit this season, but with a capacity crowd expected to fill the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Saturday when the No. 4 ranked Stanford Cardinal roll into town, Trojan football will be on display to a long list for unofficial visitors.

While schools spend a unimpeded 48 hours with recruits on official visits, unofficial visits are often brief. Food and transportation are paid for by the recruits, with the perks of the red carpet treatment of an official visit missing.

This weekend will be about USC football and the on-field product the Trojans are developing under Lane Kiffin. In many ways, this weekend is about strengthening the proverbial fence that USC has built around the state's most coveted high school football talent.

As the sun sets across from the retired jersey numbers of each USC Heisman Trophy winner in the Coliseum Saturday evening, a spotlight will shine on the importance of recruiting local talent.

The All-Americans

USC will host three uncommitted U.S. Army All-Americans Saturday. All three players are considered high priority, high value targets. Pasadena (Calif.) four-star cornerback Kevon Seymour maybe the gem of California's defensive back class of 2012. Seymour is a 6-foot cornerback, and using 10.65 100-meter speed, a dangerous kick returner.

Since last spring, the Trojans have made Seymour their No. 1 priority at cornerback. Seymour has already been to several Trojans home games this season, so Saturday will be a continuation of his courtship. Seymour plans to take five official visits before announcing a decision on a college, with Cal, Washington and Oregon locked in for trips. Florida and Utah are also on his list as possible destinations.

Seymour does not plan to take an official visit to USC, so the Trojans coaching staff must continue to impress him unofficially. Since receiving his scholarship offer in May, the Trojans have remained his No. 1 college choice.

WEEKEND SUMMARY
TOP SENIOR VISITORS

Ellis McCarthy: No. 10 ranked nationally
Kevon Seymour: No. 9 ranked corner
Kyle Murphy: No. 29 ranked nationally
Gerald Bowman: No. 2 ranked JUCO
Brandon Beaver: No. 13 ranked corner
Bryce Treggs: Committed to Cal
Eric Magnuson: Committed to Michigan
Alonzo Williams: Committed to A&M
Christian Powell: Offered by Nebraska
Ryan McDaniel: No. 27 ranked tailback
A.J. Fanene: NIKE Camp standout

TOP JUNIOR VISITORS

Su'a Cravens, Murrieta, Calif.
John Lopez, Orange, Calif.
Joe Mathis, Upland, Calif.
Kylie Fitts, Redlands, Calif.
Tyler Foreman, Encino, Calif.
David Price, Long Beach, Calif.
Gerald Wicks, Long Beach, Calif.
Troy Williams, Harbor City, Calif.
A.J. Richardson, Harbor City, Calif.
Eric Bunte, Santa Margarita, Calif.
Riley Sorenson, Santa Margarita, Calif.

The same cannot be said for San Clemente (Calif.) four-star offensive tackle Kyle Murphy. While Murphy has not named a clear favorite publicly, many believe Stanford is the school to beat for his commitment. At 6-foot-7, 275-pounds, Murphy is rated the state's best left tackle prospect.

With USC senior Matt Kalil draft eligible after this season, the Trojans will be in search of at least one 2012 signee who can compete for that job next year. Unlike Seymour, Murphy has not ruled out officially visiting USC. Florida, Oregon and Cal are other schools in line for visits in addition to Stanford.

Monrovia (Calif.) five-star defensive tackle Ellis McCarthy may be the most important unofficial visitor USC will host Saturday. USC will lose two senior defensive tackles next season, and maybe a third if redshirt junior Armond Armstead decides to transfer.

McCarthy is a game changing three-technique with the ability to play strongside defensive end at 6-foot-5, 310-pounds. Although still raw fundamentally, the Trojans haven't recruited a local defensive tackle with McCarthy's size and athleticism since Darrell Russell.

McCarthy has already officially visited Oregon with the Ducks now among his top choices, USC and Cal. In addition to those three schools, Washington and UCLA also heavily involved in his recruitment. Saturday will be the first time McCarthy visits the Coliseum this season. It will be an important visit for McCarthy to build camaraderie with USC commits, players and coaches.

The Commits

Most of USC's 11 verbal commitments will be on hand Saturday, including those commits still interested in visiting other schools. The most significant of that group will be Los Angeles (Calif.) four-star wide out Jaydon Mickens, Carson (Calif.) four-star wide out Darreus Rogers and Encino (Calif.) four-star offensive lineman Jordan Simmons.

Amongst rumors of a possible de-commitment, Mickens has maintained his pledge to USC publicly and been on campus several times this season for games. SMU, Washington and Cal continue to recruit Mickens with UCLA also making a late push for his commitment.

Rogers has been a main target for USC since his commitment last January, and although he took an unofficial visit to Arizona State over the summer, he has not made plans to visit Tempe officially. Washington, Cal, Hawaii and Miami along with USC are his current pool of choices for official visits.

Jordan Simmons is USC's latest commitment, and maybe its biggest to date. While Jabari Ruffin and Scott Starr have been the most vocal commits on the Trojans board, Simmons says he now wants to help USC build a monster class along the offensive line.

"Some people around USC are talking about a FAB Five," said Simmons in August.

Five fabulous offensive line recruits coming together to create the best offensive line class in the nation.

Simmons' list consists of Tempe (Ariz.) five-star offensive tackle Andrus Peat, Puyallup (Wa.) four-star offensive tackle Joshua Garnett, Lakewood (Wa.) four-star offensive tackle Zach Banner and San Margarita (Calif.) four-star offensive guard Max Tuerk.

Tuerk will also be on hand Saturday with fellow committed Santa Monica (Calif.) three-star offensive tackle Chad Wheeler. Additional top rated offensive and defensive line prospects may also be on campus Saturday.

Top Juniors

USC is also expected to host several top juniors on campus for Saturday's game versus Stanford. While only one local junior holds scholarship offers from USC, players like Redlands (Calif.) defensive end Kylie Fitts, Santa Margarita (Calif.) offensive guard Riley Sorenson, Long Beach (Calif.) safety David Price and Encino (Calif.) safety Tyler Foreman could be the next crop of must gets for the Trojans in 2013.

Murrieta (Calif.) athlete Su'a Cravens is the lone 2013 prospect coming into this weekend's events with a USC scholarship offer. Cravens grew up a USC fan and dreamed of being the next Taylor Mays, Darnell Bing or Troy Polomalu at safety for the Trojans. With 16 other scholarship offers already in hand, Cravens is putting his childhood favorites aside and taking his time with the recruiting process.



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