USC Football: Will Steve Sarkisian Close Strong on National Signing Day?

Kyle KensingContributor IFebruary 4, 2014

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National signing day could see Christmas morning come early for USC football. Head coach Steve Sarkisian and his staff are headed to a furious finish, jockeying to land three of the most highly coveted recruits in the 2014 class who remain uncommitted.

Coincidentally, the trio of cornerback Adoree' Jackson, athlete John "JuJu" Smith and offensive guard Damien Mama are all Southern Californian and, as's Adam Gorney notes, three of the state's top four prospects.   

Receiving their national letters of intent would give Sarkisian's first USC signing class the star power it needs to finish near or at the top of the Pac-12 and close out a three-year run of NCAA sanctions well-stocked for the immediate future.

The outlook for USC to close out recruiting strong despite a late start—Sarkisian was hired in December—and with a third and final year of NCAA-imposed scholarship limitations is good.

However, this is recruiting season. Anything can and typically does happen before those letters of intent start rolling through fax machines. 


Adoree' Jackson, 5-Star CornerbackGardena (Calif.) Junipero Serra  

Also considering Florida, LSU and UCLA; 2:10 p.m. ET scheduled announcement per

Adoree' Jackson paid unofficial visits to both UCLA and USC last weekend—not a difficult task, given that he is from the area. With that said, that doesn't mean the SEC won't make a strong push to lure Jackson away from Southern California, as both Florida and LSU are in the mix. 

Jackson told (subscription required) that Florida was "in the driver's seat" in September, though this was before Sarkisian became USC's head coach—and prior to USC even having a vacancy.

Meanwhile, head coach Will Muschamp has already added one 5-star cornerback to his class in Jalen Tabor. With the addition of instant-impact player Vernon Hargreaves III to the secondary last season, the Gators secondary is replete with young talent at Jackson's position.  

Conversely, USC needs immediate help in its secondary. Su'a Cravens and Josh Shaw return from solid 2013 seasons, but overall the unit was an area of concern for an otherwise stellar Trojans defense.'s Crystal Ball projection is 78 percent in favor of USC landing Jackson come Wednesday. 


John "JuJu" Smith, 5-Star AthleteLong Beach (Calif.) Poly 

Also considering Notre Dame, Oregon and UCLA; 5 p.m. ET scheduled announcement per

"JuJu" Smith is a multitalented standout from one of Southern California's prep powerhouse programs, Long Beach Poly. He can play either wide receiver to complement Nelson Agholor or thrive in the secondary along with 2013 star recruit Cravens. 

The role Smith will fill is as intriguing as his chosen destination. 

With the coaching uncertainty at USC during Ed Orgeron's interim tenure, other schools got a jump on having Smith on campus for official visits. That may actually benefit Sarkisian and his staff, who have had more recent opportunities to make an impression on Smith.

The 5-star athlete made his visits to Oregon, Notre Dame and UCLA during the season. He's paid one official and two unofficial visits to USC since Dec. 13, approximately two weeks after Sarkisian's hire.'s Justin Hopkins writes that there's "a lot of smoke" coming from "a perceived lean" to USC and 73 percent of the site's Crystal Ball panel projects Smith to become a Trojan. 


Damien Mama, 4-Star Offensive Guard, Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco  

Also considering Alabama and Brigham Young; 11:15 a.m. ET scheduled announcement per 

Sarkisian need not fend off rival UCLA—Mama cut the Bruins from his list of finalists last week. On Wednesday, he'll select from a trio of suitors, all of which have something to offer. As Mama told, his family has let him know it.

My family, they joke around and say "Stay home, go to SC." Or when Alabama was on a big run they said "Go to the No. 1 team." They know I will make the right decision...My parents want me to make my own decision and do the homework on the school.

Alabama has three national championships in the last five seasons and this year's top-rated recruiting class. Among the Crimson Tide's commitments is 5-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, who did his part to lure Mama away from California via Twitter.

A remarkable 100 percent of recruiting experts project Mama to sign with USC. 


Unless otherwise noted, recruiting information courtesy of

Kyle Kensing is the Pac-12 Lead Writer.