With the February 5 national signing day drawing near, USC head coach Steve Sarkisian and his recruiting brain trust are pulling out all of the stops in their effort to bring in a top class in 2014.
Part of that effort includes welcoming several high-profile recruits to the southland as Sark and Co. attempt to sway some last-minute signatures from some very talented athletes.
First up this week are two very intriguing prospects who would fill positions of need for the scholarship-strapped Trojans.
Michiah Quick is a blazing-fast Scout.com 5-star wide receiver who is a game-changer with the ball in his hands.
Though not particularly big at 5'11", 170 pounds, the aptly named Quick more than makes up for that with his speed and athleticism.
Quick would certainly fill a position of need for USC, and he has the talent to see the field of play as a freshman, which is something Sark will sell to the Fresno, Calif., product.
USC is part of a six-program list of interest for Quick, and while the visit is encouraging for the Trojans, it should also be noted that his last visit will be to cross-town rival UCLA on the weekend of January 31.
Other programs in the mix for Quick include Alabama, Arizona State, Cal and Notre Dame.
Also visiting this week is Scout.com 4-star linebacker Fred Warner, who is a "soft verbal" to BYU.
USC needs linebackers, and the 6'3", 205-pound Warner, who played ball at Mission Hills High School (San Marcos, Calif.), would fill a big need for the Trojans, who have only one solid verbal (Olajuwon Tucker) in the 2014 class.
Warner seems open to the idea of playing for the men of Troy, and this is evident in his comments to Scout.com's Greg Biggins (subscription required). "I’m really looking forward to the visit to see what USC has to offer," Warner said. "That’s the school I grew up rooting for so it’s a big deal for me.”
When asked if USC had a realistic shot to get him, Warner said, “On paper they do, I grew up a USC fan and they have great tradition, it’s close to home and I really like the coaching staff a lot."
However, Warner still has a deep affection for BYU, so it will take a big selling job by the staff to turn Warner.
Meanwhile, the following week will see a pair of cornerbacks making a visit to USC, and both of them are solid players.
Tee Shepard is a big corner who likes to play physical on the edges, where he also does a great job with run support.
At 6'1", 195 pounds, Shepard is reminiscent of current Trojan corner Josh Shaw, and like Shaw, Shepard has the talent to lock down the opponent's best receiver.
Listed as a 4-star prospect by Scout.com, Shepard lists his interest as "high" for Mississippi State, but he also has offers from programs such as Oklahoma, Ohio State and Wisconsin among others.
Another player to keep an eye on who will be visiting with Shepard is William H. Raines High School (Jacksonville, FL) cornerback Lamont Simmons.
Like Shepard, Simmons is a big (6'2", 185 pounds) corner who has a boatload of talent but is somewhat raw.
Simmons has over 20 offers from programs such as Penn State, Georgia and Auburn, but the Trojans have made a habit of getting players from Florida, so maybe Simmons is the next.
Finally, offensive lineman Bobby Johnson will take a visit on the week of January 31, but he doesn't have an offer from the Trojans and is considered quote a long shot to sign with USC.
It will be interesting to see how Sark shuffles his recruiting deck as Feb 5 draws near, but you can be sure there will be some significant movement in USC's recruiting class before everything is said and done.
Will the Trojans be able to get one of these late visitors to stay on with USC permanently?
Time will tell, but you can be sure that Sark will use his best sales pitch to accomplish just that.
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