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USC Football Recruiting: Meet the Trojans' 2014 Class

Trenise FerreiraUSC Lead WriterFebruary 5, 2014

USC Football Recruiting: Meet the Trojans' 2014 Class

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    The USC Trojans' 2014 recruiting class is complete.
    The USC Trojans' 2014 recruiting class is complete.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    The fax machines have cooled down, and the ink has dried, and after a long and very busy recruiting season, new head coach Steve Sarkisian has assembled his first-ever recruiting class at USC.

    Things went about as well as the Trojans could have hoped for this recruiting cycle, with Sarkisian maintaining most of the commitments earned during former head coaches Lane Kiffin's and Ed Orgeron's tenures, as well as bringing in top talent in his own right.

    Thanks to astute prioritizing by Sarkisian, USC welcomes new athletes who fill positions of dire need for the Trojans, which is something he said he would do during his introductory press conference when he assumed the role of head coach. 

    USC could only sign 19 guys in 2014, and thanks to a rich and bountiful recruiting trail, the Trojans were able to put all 19 scholarships to good use this year.

    So without further ado, meet the Trojans' 2014 signing class, listed in alphabetical order.

     

    All ranking and star information provided by 247Sports.com.

Jordan Austin

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    Jordan Austin is a 3-star OT in USC's 2014 class.
    Jordan Austin is a 3-star OT in USC's 2014 class.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'6", 280 lb

    Position/Ranking: 3-star OT, No. 992 overall

    High School: Claremont (Claremont, Calif.)

    Other Finalists: N/A

    Commit Date: 06/26/2013, Enrolled 01/12/2014

     

    Analysis: Sarkisian and his staff wanted to bring in lots of offensive line talent, and Austin is one such talent. He's a physically commanding presence up front, adding much-needed size to USC's increasingly mediocre offensive line. He's been at USC for almost a month and will be right in the thick of things, competing for a spot during spring ball. After a little grooming, he will be ready to lend his skills to the Trojans offense on game day. 

Chris Brown

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    Height/Weight: 6'4", 290 lb

    Position/Ranking: 4-star OG, No. 229 overall

    High School: Loyola (Los Angeles, Calif.)

    Other Finalists: N/A

    Commit Date: 12/16/2013

     

    Analysis: Brown is another talent who will have a role in bringing back some legitimacy to the O-line. The 4-star talent has the size and athleticism to play nearly every position up front, which will make him an asset for USC as it remains plagued by depth issues. With few veterans above him on the depth chart, Brown has a chance to come in and compete for a spot in the starting rotation. 

Bryce Dixon

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    Bryce Dixon is a 4-star TE in USC's class of 2014.
    Bryce Dixon is a 4-star TE in USC's class of 2014.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 220 lb

    Position/Ranking: 4-star TE, No. 104 overall

    High School: St. Bonaventure (Ventura, Calif.)

    Senior-Year Stats: 63 receptions, 740 yards, 11.7-yard average

    Other Finalists: UCLA, Oregon

    Commit Date: 01/04/2014


    Analysis: Dixon is an important get for the Trojans for a few reasons. First, he adds depth and size to a TE corps that currently only has two scholarship athletes in veteran Randall Telfer and sophomore Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick. Second, he has excellent hands and top-end speed and can hold onto the ball in traffic as well as field catches over the middle of the field. We know that Sarkisian will be looking to feed the tight ends the ball more in his new scheme, and Dixon already fits the mold for what the head coach is looking for at the position. Barring injury, we likely will see him often next season. 

Malik Dorton

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    Malik Dorton is a 3-star SDE in USC's class of 2014.
    Malik Dorton is a 3-star SDE in USC's class of 2014.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 230 lb

    Position/Ranking: 3-star SDE, No. 412 overall

    High School: St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.)

    Other Finalists: N/A

    Commit Date: 08/23/2013


    Analysis: Dorton went through a bit of a turbulent period as a result of the coaching carousel, but he never wavered in his commitment. As a result, USC adds a real talent at defensive end, another position of need for the Trojans. He gets off the ball well and touts an athleticism that will lend itself well to the pass rush. Thanks to an update he gave in January, we know that he will be a hybrid DE/OLB in Troy. He does a nice job of using his length to separate himself from offensive linemen, and he can defend the run with ease. 

Jalen Greene

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    Jalen Greene is a 3-star dual-threat QB in USC's class of 2014.
    Jalen Greene is a 3-star dual-threat QB in USC's class of 2014.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 195 lb

    Position/Ranking: 3-star QB, No. 485 overall

    High School: Junipero Serra  (Gardena, Calif.)

    Senior-Year Stats: 123-of-202, 2,303 yards, 30 TDs; 1,130 RUYD, 14 RUTD

    Other Finalists: Washington, Boise State

    Commit Date: 12/22/2013, Enrolled 01/12/2014 


    Analysis: It's rare that USC pursues a quarterback with the skill set that Greene touts, as the Trojans usually opt to go after NFL-style pocket passers. As the landscape of college football changes, however, a quarterback who can think on his feet but still step up in the pocket, a la Andrew Luck at Stanford, can elevate a team to the next level of competitiveness. Sarkisian pursued Greene because he can be that guy for USC. He can shred a defense with his legs, but his passing abilities remain true to what USC football is all about.

Ajene Harris

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    Height/Weight: 6'0", 170 lb

    Position/Ranking: 2-star WR, No. 1997 overall

    High School: Crenshaw (Los Angeles, Calif.)

    Other Finalists: San Diego State

    Commit Date: 01/07/2013


    Analysis: Harris is perhaps the least heralded of USC's signees in 2014. He had been committed to San Diego State before landing an offer from the Trojans in November, and he jumped at the opportunity. He technically will come to USC as an athlete because he can play either wide receiver or defensive back, but expect him to lend his skill set to the Trojans' anemic wide receiver corps. With Nelson Agholor, Darreus Rogers, Steven Mitchell, George Farmer and a handful of new signees ahead of him on the depth chart, we likely won't see Harris right out of the gate in 2014.

Don Hill

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    Don Hill is a 3-star SDE in USC's class of 2014.
    Don Hill is a 3-star SDE in USC's class of 2014.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 225 lb

    Position/Ranking: 3-star DE, No. 565 overall

    High School: Timberline (Boise, Idaho)

    Other Finalists: Washington

    Commit Date: 12/15/2013, Enrolled 01/12/2014


    Analysis: Hill missed most of his senior year due to an Achilles injury, but expect him to spend this spring semester at USC getting healthy and ready for fall camp. He's athletic and sports a good frame that still has room to fill out. Like Dorton, Hill is expected to play a hybrid position where he will split time with his hand in the dirt and standing up as an outside linebacker. USC had to use its early enrollee scholarships this spring or lose them, and Sarkisian luring Hill out of Idaho to fill one of them was a huge get for the Trojans. 

Adoree' Jackson

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    Height/Weight: 5'9.5", 182 lb

    Position/Ranking: 5-star CB, No. 7 overall

    High School: Junipero Serra (Gardena, Calif.)

    Senior-Year Stats: (Defense) 26 tackles, six interceptions, three interceptions returned for TD, one sack, eight pass deflections, one forced fumble; (Offense) 66 carries, 639 yards, five TDs; 38 receptions, 812 yards, seven TDs

    Other Finalists: Florida, UCLA

    Commit Date: 02/05/2014 

     

    Analysis: Jackson made Christmas come early for USC when he announced he would sign with the Trojans. The standout 5-star cornerback can suit up on either side of the ball and will be formidable because of elite athleticism and ball skills. He could see immediate playing time and likely will do so at cornerback. The injuries and early declarations to the NFL have ravished what was a pretty good secondary last season.

Rahshead Johnson

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    Height/Weight: 5' 11", 165 lb

    Position/Ranking: 4-star CB, No. 186 overall

    High School: Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo (Long Beach, Calif.)

    Other Finalists: Washington State, Nebraska

    Commit Date: 01/04/2014

     

    Analysis: Johnson joins USC's newest bunch of signees as the 28th-best wide receiver talent in his class. While he brings depth and talent to the Trojans' thin group of receivers, he intends to line up on the other side of the ball in Troy, according to USCFootball.com's Gerard Martinez. The fact that he wants to play defense back is even better for USC, as the Trojan secondary—outside of the talented Josh Shaw, Su'a Cravens and the budding Kevon Seymour—is sorely lacking in both depth and talent. 

Toa Lobendahn

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    Toa Lobendahn is a 4-star OG in USC's class of 2014.
    Toa Lobendahn is a 4-star OG in USC's class of 2014.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 293 lb

    Position/Ranking: 4-star OG, No. 130 overall

    High School: La Habra (La Habra, Calif.)

    Other Finalists: Florida

    Commit Date: Enrolled 01/12/3014

     

    Analysis: Another one of USC's early enrollees, Lobendahn will have a leg up on the competition by being around for spring ball. He's a physically commanding presence up front who stands a fair chance of earning playing time early. He has the skill set that can help restore credibility to USC's offensive line and needs little grooming to be ready for Pac-12 play. 

Jonathan Lockett

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    Jonathan Lockett is a 4-star CB in USC's class of 2014.
    Jonathan Lockett is a 4-star CB in USC's class of 2014.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 5'11", 170 lb

    Position/Ranking: 4-star CB, No. 180 overall

    High School: Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.)

    Senior-Year Stats: (Defense) 34 tackles, three interceptions; (Offense) five carries, 56 yards; 31 receptions, 557 yards, four TDs

    Other Finalists: Washington

    Commit Date: 12/11/2013

     

    Analysis: Lockett was one of Sarkisian's commits at Washington who followed him to Troy. He's a talented cornerback with good ball skills and strong instincts—he can see the play develop and is particularly good in man coverage. That aspect is something USC desperately needs if it intends to be competitive against the increasingly pass-happy offenses in the Pac-12. 

Damien Mama

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    Damien Mama is a 4-star OG in USC's class of 2014.
    Damien Mama is a 4-star OG in USC's class of 2014.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 370 lb

    Position/Ranking: 4-star OG, No. 38 overall

    High School: St. John Bosco (Bellflower, Calif.)

    Other Finalists: UCLA, BYU, Alabama

    Commit Date: 02/05/2014 


    Analysis: Another heralded member of the "Uce Crew," Mama's commitment to be on USC's O-line is perhaps the biggest of the group, both literally and figuratively. Ranked No. 1 at his position, he is one of USC's five O-line commits who could easily suit up and start early next fall. He is a quality lineman, and despite his mammoth size, he is athletic and will be a great asset for run blocking, among other things. 

Uchenna Nwosu

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    Uchella Nwosu is a 3-star S in USC's class of 2014.
    Uchella Nwosu is a 3-star S in USC's class of 2014.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'0", 200 lb

    Position/Ranking: 3-star S, No. 103 overall

    High School: Narbonne (Harbor City, Calf.) 

    Other Finalists: N/A

    Commit Date: 10/8/2013

     

    Analysis: Nwosu is listed as a safety, but he has spent time during his senior year at outside linebacker. He has good instincts and awareness against the pass and the run—a skill set that will fir new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox's scheme well. He's tall and lanky, and that frame helps him to disrupt plays. He can read a play quickly and react based on the situation. With good instincts in coverage, he rarely gets lost or tangled up by a wide receiver, and that will serve him well once he begins to compete for playing time. 

Claudeson Pelon

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    Claude Pelon is a 4-star SDE in USC's class of 2014.
    Claude Pelon is a 4-star SDE in USC's class of 2014.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'4, 275 lb

    Position/Ranking: 4-star DE, No. 15 overall

    Junior College: Mesa C.C. (Mesa, Ariz.)

    Sophomore-Year Stats: 52 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery

    Other Finalists: Washington, Central Florida

    Commit Date: 12/11/2013, Enrolled 01/12/2014


    Analysis: Pelon has been at USC for a few weeks now, but a still-healing Achilles injury will see that he continues rehabbing instead of getting out on the practice field this spring. Still, he's athletic, and when the time comes, he will split time as a hybrid defensive end/linebacker. He comes to Troy from the junior college ranks, so he has a leg up on the competition in terms of knowing how to handle game-day circumstances. He's ready to get right out there as soon as he heals, with a first-step quickness that meshes perfectly with USC's aggressive pass rush. 

John Plattenburg Jr.

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    John Plattenburg Jr. is a 3-star CB in USC's class of 2014.
    John Plattenburg Jr. is a 3-star CB in USC's class of 2014.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 5'10", 179 lb

    Position/Ranking: 3-star CB, No. 373 overall

    High School: Lamar (Houston, Texas)

    Senior-Year Stats: 40 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, one interception, two fumble recoveries

    Other Finalists: UCLA

    Commit Date: 01/06/2014

     

    Analysis: Thanks to new defensive backs coach Keith Heyward, USC was able to flip Plattenburg from UCLA over to Troy in January. While he was still working for the Huskies, Heyward had aggressively pursued Plattenburg, and according to Greg Biggins of Scout.com, Plattenburg could not pass up the opportunity to play at USC. His 5'10", 179-pound frame gives him good size, and he has plenty of space to fill out as he develops and grows in college. He is a menacing threat in coverage as well as an asset on kick returns. Because of the injuries to redshirt junior Anthony Brown, redshirt sophomore Ryan Henderson, redshirt freshman Devian Shelton, sophomore Ryan Dillard, freshman Chris Hawkins, freshman Leon McQuay III and senior Gerald Bowman, Plattenburg could compete for early playing time.

Lamont Simmons

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    Lamont Simmons is a 3-star CB in USC's class of 2014.
    Lamont Simmons is a 3-star CB in USC's class of 2014.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'2", 180 lb

    Position/Ranking: 3-star CB, No. 970 overall

    High School: Raines (Jacksonville, Fla.)

    Other Finalists: Virginia Tech

    Commit Date: 02/05/2014 

     

    Analysis: Another cornerback prospect, Simmons shores up depth for USC. At 182 pounds, he adds much-needed size as well. With several other corners in the class coupled with USC's current athletes who will likely have recovered from injury by the fall, he will likely spend his early years in Troy learning the system and improving his ball skills. 

John "JuJu" Smith

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    JuJu Smith is a 5-star ATH in USC's class of 2014.
    JuJu Smith is a 5-star ATH in USC's class of 2014.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'1", 200 lb

    Position/Ranking: 5-star ATH, No. 20 overall

    High School: Long Beach (Long Beach, Calif.)

    Other Finalists: Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA

    Commit Date: 02/05/2014 


    Analysis: With Dion Bailey declaring for the draft, there is an immediate need for a talent like Smith to suit up in the Trojans backfield. If he elects to stay on the defensive side of things in college, he is poised to make an impact right out of the gate. Ranked the No. 3 ATH in his class, he has tremendous ball skills and could be just as pivotal for USC as a wide receiver. He's one of two 5-stars in USC's class, and his athleticism will help curtail the side effects of shallow depth at USC. 

Viane Talamaivao

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    Viane Talamaivao is a 4-star OG in USC's class of 2014.
    Viane Talamaivao is a 4-star OG in USC's class of 2014.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'3", 310 lb

    Position/Ranking: 4-star OG, No. 86 overall

    High School: Centennial (Corona, Calif.)

    Other Finalists: Alabama

    Commit Date: 11/19/2013

     

    Analysis: As one of the highest-rated members of this class, Talamaivao's presence in Troy cannot be understated. Like Lobendahn and Mama, Talamaivao is a dominant run-blocker. His talents will aid USC in employing a no-huddle offense and creating space for the quarterback to run. 

Olajuwon Tucker

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    Olajuwon Tucker is a 3-star LB in USC's 2014 class.
    Olajuwon Tucker is a 3-star LB in USC's 2014 class.247Sports.com

    Height/Weight: 6'4", 220 lb

    Position/Ranking: 3-star LB, No. 339 overall

    High School: Junipero Serra (Gardena, Calif.)

    Senior-Year Stats: 117 tackles, 25 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, seven interceptions, seven pass deflection, two forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries

    Other Finalists: N/A

    Commit Date: 10/18/2013 

     

    Analysis: The only true linebacker commit in the class, Tucker will have a bright future at USC after he bulks up a bit and spends a year or two learning the scheme on the practice field. He has a good initial quickness despite not being particularly fast, and he plays faster than his top-end speed indicates. Against the run, he can disrupt easily with penetration. When defending the pass, he's a ball-hawking machine if he cannot get to the quarterback.

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