According to ESPN.com's Erik McKinney (h/t ESPN's Blair Angulo), 5-star athlete John "JuJu" Smith made Steve Sarkisian and the Trojans a little happier on Sunday when the Long Beach native indicated that USC made the cut for his top four schools.
Per @EMcKinneyESPN, the finalists for Long Beach Poly athlete John "JuJu" Smith are Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA and USC.— Blair Angulo (@bangulo) January 20, 2014
USC has been the favorite for some time now and landing Smith would be huge for USC, as Sarkisian is looking to finish strong on the recruiting trail as national signing day rapidly approaches.
Smith is a member of the highly touted "Uce Crew," a tight-knit group of Polynesian athletes that is taking the 2014 recruiting class by storm. Fellow member Toa Lobendahn has already enrolled at USC while Viane Talamaivao is a Trojan commit. Damien Mama is another top target for USC in the Uce Crew and he too is a USC lean. That familiarity suggests Smith very well could end up a Trojan come Feb. 5.
Over the weekend, Chris Talamaivao—a member of Viane's family—tweeted this photo:
It's official? pic.twitter.com/cEY4rQGY98— Chris Talamaivao (@SBVC73) January 18, 2014
Mama, Talamaivao and Smith can be seen proudly sporting USC gear. Athletes often rock the apparel of the teams courting them throughout the recruiting process, so this photo could mean nothing at all.
Then again, it could also mean everything for Sarkisian and the Trojans.
With the recent decommitment of Austin Maloata—who, interestingly, is also in the Uce Crew—USC's 2014 recruiting class stands at 16 pledges. That leaves USC with three available scholarships, one for each of its top three targets: Smith, Mama and Adoree' Jackson.
Recruit information courtesy of 247Sports.com.