Of the 19 players that made up USC’s 2014 recruiting class, 12 of them were not committed to the Trojans before Steve Sarkisian was named head coach. Sarkisian credits Tee Martin and Clay Helton, both holdovers from the last regime, for their efforts with players that were already committed, in addition to continuing relationships with other targets.
Once Wednesday was a wrap, USC’s new head coach was pleased with what he called "a fantastic class in a short amount of time." The 2014 class is a "complete" class, Sarkisian said. Here is a position group breakdown for the 10th rated recruiting class in the country:
Quarterbacks: Sarkisian and USC came on extremely late with Serra quarterback Jalen Greene. The left-handed signal caller is the only quarterback the Trojans took in the class. Greene was a one-time Boise State commit until Chris Petersen left for Washington. Greene’s commitment then changed to the Huskies. However, when USC offered, Greene didn’t hesitate. Sarkisian says Greene is a "winner" with an unbelievable upside. He brings a different dynamic to the quarterback position at USC as a dual threat.
Backs/Receivers/Tight ends: There was no running back in the 2014 recruiting class for USC. That was by design. Sarkisian says he’s happy with the depth at tailback already on campus. The Trojans first year head coach revealed Rahshead Johnson (Long Beach Cabrillo), Ajene Harris (Crenshaw), and JuJu Smith (Long Beach Poly) will all begin their collegiate careers on the offensive side of the ball at wide receiver. Bryce Dixon out of St. Bonaventure is rated the No. 2 tight end in the country by Scout.com.
Offensive line — As soon as he took over, Sarkisian announced the offensive line would be a point of emphasis on the recruiting trail. Five of USC’s 19 signees are offensive linemen. Damien Mama (St. John Bosco), Viane Talamaivao (Corona Centennial), and Toa Lobendahn (La Habra) are three of the top 10 offensive guards in the country according to Scout.com. Like Lobendahn, Jordan Austin (Claremont) is another guard who’s already on campus. Chris Brown (Loyola) is one of the top 20 offensive tackles in the country. Sarkisian says some of the guards can potentially play tackle.
Defensive line — Junior college transfer Claude Pelon is among the early enrollees. Sarkisian says he’s a player that can make an immediate impact. Like Pelon, Don Hill (Idaho Timberline) is on campus as well. Malik Dorton (St. John Bosco) was a USC commit before Sarkisian was named head coach and remained a Trojan. Sarkisian likens the body types of Hill and Dorton to that of Devon Kennard, saying they are guys that can stand up as rush ends but also have the ability to drop back in coverage.
Linebackers: Olajuwon Tucker (Serra) and Uchenna Nwosu (Narbonne) were both committed to USC before Sarkisian was named head coach. Sarkisian says both are "tall, long, rangy players" and bring the athleticism to be able to play in space against spread offenses throughout the conference. Sarkisian believes down the line Nwosu can be a huge contributor for the Trojans defensively.
Defensive Backs: John Plattenburg Jr. (Lamar) was once a UCLA commit, but once Sarkisian and his dream school, USC came calling, the cornerback from Texas was willing to jump on board. Sarkisian said some of Jonathan Lockett’s (Mater Dei) most impressive work on tape is on the offensive side of the ball, still he will be inserted at cornerback because he is a "true cover corner." Lockett was once committed to Washington and in the process built a strong relationship with new USC defensive backs coach Keith Heyward, making it a smooth transition to flip his commitment to USC. Like Nwosu, Lamont Simmons (Florida Raines) is a player Sarkisian believes will be a key contributor down the road. Scout.com rates Adoree’ Jackson the No. 3 cornerback in the country. In addition to the offensive line, Sarkisian said a huge target in this class was "receiver, DB body types." Jackson certainly fits that mold, although it’s uncertain where he’ll line up but Sarkisian and his staff "think the world of him."