Football Recruiting: Previewing Trojans' Huge Official Visits for This Weekend
We are closing in on the home stretch of the recruiting trail, and as such, Steve Sarkisian and his staff are hosting the official-visit weekend to end all official-visit weekends. The Trojans are hosting 11 athletes, and the success of this weekend could be the difference between USC getting everything it wants come national signing day and being disappointed.
So who are the Trojans hosting and what could they bring to the program? Let's take a look at the headliners and find out.
All recruiting info is provided by 247Sports.com
5-Star AtH JuJu Smith
Smith was originally scheduled to visit USC last week, but due to the AIGA Polynesian All-American Bowl, he and fellow target Damien Mama elected to push their visit back to this weekend.
The 6'1", 200-pound athlete is one of USC's most coveted recruits and since he has reportedly been a USC lean throughout the recruitment process, this could be the weekend that the Trojans really seal the deal. The fact that his friend Viane Talamaivao is a USC commit and other friend Mama is a top target works in in the Trojans' favor, and could play into Smith's final decision.
If Smith does sign with USC, the No. 3 ATH brings a versatile skill set to the Trojans' thin ranks. He's a top-rated safety in California, and while he would be the most beneficial to USC on that side of the ball, he can also line up at wide receiver. He is a playmaker on either side, with great instincts and explosiveness. His commitment would be a huge get for Sarkisian, as he goes about establishing himself as a dominant force in the Southern California landscape.
Expect Sarkisian to really sell Smith on the coaching staff he would learn under, as well as the possibility for early success, given the depth issues in the secondary.
4-Star OG Damien Mama
Mama is one of the hottest targets on the recruiting trail this year, and the 4-star OG has narrowed his sights down to Alabama, BYU, UCLA and USC. Like JuJu Smith, Mama has long been considered a USC lean, and with an official visit to BYU looming next week, Sarkisian will be using this weekend to keep the Trojans at the top of his list.
The 6'4", 370-pound offensive guard will spend the weekend with Trojan commit Viane Talamaivao and early enrollee Toa Lobendahn, and their influence could go a long way with Mama. Considering that all three of them and Smith are members of The Uce Crew, the idea of spending their college years together could be a big selling point in and of itself.
Mama has made clear his intentions to take a two-year mission after his freshman year of college, as part of his Mormon faith, and BYU could really make a strong sell to him based on that. But USC's coaching staff is on board with Mama's plan, and even though he could potentially be away from Troy for two years, it's still aggressively pursuing him anyway.
With Mama on the offensive line, he brings a big, strong frame that can contend with the best defensive line competition. He uses his hands well and can provide the kind of pass and run protection that USC has been sorely lacking over the past few seasons.
4-Star OG Viane Talamaivao
Talamaivao has been committed to USC since he flipped from Alabama back in November, and the 4-star OG's presence during this important weekend cannot be understated.
While Sarkisian and the coaching staff are hard at work, Talamaivao will be doing some recruiting of his own. With his friends Damien Mama and JuJu Smith strongly considering USC, his take on the program will undoubtedly have an impact on their ultimate decision.
The 6'3", 310-pound offensive guard pushed his official visit weekend back just so that he could be on campus with Smith and Mama, which says a lot about their preexisting relationship.
This Trojan lock could be an active figure for USC early. His quick feet and dominant abilities to control defenders in pass protection, coupled with his quickness and drive when protecting the run, are exactly what the Trojans are looking for as they go about remolding the O-line.
4-Star TE Bryce Dixon
Bryce Dixon gave his allegiance to Troy earlier this month during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, but the 4-star TE hasn't stopped considering their rivals, UCLA.
Though he hasn't appeared to have wavered in his commitment, Sarkisian will be spending the weekend trying to convince Dixon to shut down his commitment. The No. 2 TE has a final official visit scheduled for the weekend of Jan. 31, and if things go Sarkisian's way, Dixon will cancel that visit after this weekend.
As it stands now, Dixon's commitment to USC gives the Trojans to best tight end corps in the Pac-12. With Xavier Grimble electing to leave college early, Dixon is in contention to start early at USC. Randall Telfer and Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick are the only other scholarship tight ends on roster, so Dixon will have the opportunity to compete for a starting job as soon as he gets to Troy. If early playing time is important to Dixon, USC should remain the school for him.
Dorton has been committed to USC for some time now, as the 3-star DE gave his word to the old coaching regime. Since then, Sarkisian and his new staff have cooled off of him a bit, but Dorton is trying to keep his place in the class of 2014.
The 6'3", 230-pound defensive end could have taken visits to Washington and Arizona State this month, so expect him to use this weekend to really find out where he stands in Sarkisian's eyes. If things go well, he will likely shut down his recruitment and sign with USC on Feb. 5.
Dorton's size lends itself to make him a hybrid DE/OLB in Justin Wilcox's system and after some grooming, he could be a very useful defensive asset for the Trojans.
3-Star DB Lamont Simmons
Lamont Simmons was committed to Rutgers, but a late offer from USC has caused Simmons to open up his recruitment.
He's 6'2", 180 pounds and could bring much-needed size to the Trojan secondary. USC already has a handful of commits in Rahshead Johnson, John Plattenburg Jr. and Jonathan Lockett, though it is possible that Johnson ends up at wide receiver in college. The Trojans are still actively pursuing Adoree' Jackson, another player that could play either offense or defense at the next level.
USC needs all the help it can get at cornerback, so if the weekend goes well for Simmons, we can expect that he will sign with USC next month.