USC Football Recruiting: Will the Trojans Make a Florida Connection in 2014?

Rick McMahan@@RickMcMahanSenior Writer IJanuary 23, 2014

Charles Nelson
Charles NelsonPhoto from

As USC looks to close its 2014 recruiting class, new head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff will continue to prowl areas that have proven to be rich in delivering prospective Trojans in the past.

For the Trojans, that fertile ground has historically brought players who have left their mark on the program, and it continues to do so even to this day.

What may be surprising, though, is that the area I am talking about is not player-rich Southern California—although that is where USC draws its primary source of players—but rather, some 2,700 miles across the nation in the sunny state of Florida.

Lamont Simmons
Lamont SimmonsPhoto from

Indeed, when the Trojans look at their roster since 2008, they will find a bevy of Floridians who have contributed mightily to the men of Troy, and that phenomenon continues to this very day.

In fact, a casual glance at USC's roster for the upcoming season will reveal that no less than five players from Florida, including defensive tackle Leonard Williams, wide receiver Nelson Agholor and running back Javorius "Buck" Allen, will be expected to make large contributions on both sides of the ball.

Factor in linebacker Quinton Powell and safety Leon McQuay, and it is easy to see why the Trojans continue to exploit the Sunshine State for premier prep players.

Now USC turns its eye once again to the east as the Trojans look to close out their 2014 recruiting class.

And when they do, Sarkisian and his recruiting brain trust will see a couple of players who will be looking to continue the Florida connection in 2014.

Charles Nelson is a 3-star running back whose blazing speed (4.35-second 40-yard dash) makes him a perfect slot receiver in Sarkisian's hurry-up offense.

Though not particularly big (5'9", 165 lbs), Nelson is extremely quick, and his elusiveness makes him a threat to go all the way every time he touches the ball.

Nelson recently completed a visit to USC, and according to's Jamie Newberg (subscription required), he had a great time. Said Nelson, “It was great and I loved it. I really loved it out there. I mean I loved everything. The school is great and the campus is beautiful."

Nelson was hosted by the aforementioned Williams and Powell and left with the impression that a move across the nation wouldn't be that much of a problem.

"It was my first time out there and distance won’t be an issue with me. Now I know what to expect.”

With the recent decommitment of Shay Fields, USC will be looking to sign a slot receiver, and Nelson would fill that spot admirably.

USC is in Nelson's final four interest-wise, and having already made trips to Notre Dame and USC, he will also make stops at Oregon (1/24) and West Virginia (1/31) before making his final decision.

Another area of need for the Trojans is cornerback, and it is at this position USC will take a very long look at Lamont Simmons from William M. Raines High School in Jacksonville, Fla.

Simmons is a 3-star prospect whose excellent size (6'2", 182 lbs) is comparable to that of current Trojan Josh Shaw.

Though somewhat raw, Simmons has tremendous potential, which explains why he holds offers from premier programs such as Auburn, Georgia, Michigan State and a bevy of others.

Simmons will visit USC the week of Jan. 21, and if Sark can somehow free up a scholarship, young Lamont will be a high-value target to be sure.

With a scant handful of days remaining before prospects put pen to paper, one has to wonder if the Trojans will continue their Florida pipeline with Nelson and/or Simmons.

In any other year with a full complement of scholarships, the question wouldn't be if but rather when USC would ink players such as these to a letter of intent.

Still, don't be surprised if one of these guys dons the Cardinal and Gold anyway.

After all, when it comes to the Florida connection to USC, why mess with a good thing?

Follow me on Twitter: @RickMcMahan


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