USC Football: Best and Worst of National Signing Day

Rick McMahan@@RickMcMahanSenior Writer IFebruary 6, 2014

USC Football: Best and Worst of National Signing Day

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    Adoree' Jackson
    Adoree' JacksonPhoto from

    On what could only be described as a banner day for USC football and its new head coach Steve Sarkisian, the Trojans had a national signing day to remember.

    With only four scholarships available, USC secured the signatures on every target it had identified and, in doing so, reclaimed southern California as its own personal recruiting playground.

    To be certain, this day could have not gone any better for USC, and with the momentum of literally running the table on Wednesday, the Trojans will head into spring practice with a full head of steam.

    Of course, with the good comes some bad, and this slideshow will look at both sides of the recruiting coin as we put the 2014 Trojan class to bed.

    What was the best and worst of this memorable day?

    Read on to find out...

Worst: Fred Warner Winds Up at Brigham Young

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    Photo from

    OK, so I am reaching to find some bad news on a glorious day for USC recruiting, but there is one disappointment, albeit one that was largely unavoidable.

    Fred Warner is a very athletic linebacker out of Mission Hills High School in San Marcos, Calif., who was rated as a 4-star prospect by

    Though a BYU verbal for quite a while, Warner was thought to be a possible flip to USC, especially after making a midweek visit a week or so ago.

    However, any notion of that was dashed when Lamont Simmons faxed his signed letter of intent to the Trojans very early on Wednesday morning.

    Simmons is a tremendous player at a position of need and USC is very fortunate to get him, but Warner is a dynamic player who would have looked very good in cardinal and gold.

Worst: Imagine This Class with Those 10 Missing Scholarships!

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    So it turns out that the Trojans wound up with the 14th-best recruiting class in the nation, according to ESPN.

    Not bad, but just think what the Trojans could have done with the 10 scholarships that the NCAA removed from them this year due to sanctions stemming from the Reggie Bush fiasco.

    And it's not just the missing scholarships that influenced this class, but also the strategy that accompanies a plan that only accommodates pursuing 19 players rather than 29.

    Judging by the quality of the players USC signed on Wednesday, it is easy to rationalize the possibility that Sarkisian and his staff could have done even better if they had those "schollies" available.

    Instead, there was likely a myriad of prospects Sark and Co. didn't even bother to chase because they knew they didn't have a scholarship to offer them.

    That changes next year, and boy, won't it be fun to see what this coaching staff accomplishes then?

Best: The Trojans Managed to Sign All of Their Verbal Commits

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    Jonathan Lockett
    Jonathan LockettPhoto from

    Sometimes the best news is no news at all, and in the case of USC's verbal commitments, the fact that all of the players kept their pledges to don the cardinal and gold made all connected with the Trojans very happy indeed.

    Following the fiasco of last year's mass defections of verbal commits, the fact that this year's group of players stayed firm can only be viewed as a positive trend going forward in 2014 and beyond.

    Give a ton of credit to Sarkisian and his staff who not only kept this group together, but did it under very trying circumstances as a new set of coaches who only had a couple of months to reassure nervous recruits who had to be wondering if they were still wanted.

    Can you imagine the goodwill this staff will be able to promote with a year of stability under their collective belts?

Best: Sarkisian and Staff Hit a Grand Slam and Deliver the 'Big Four'

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    John "JuJu" Smith
    John "JuJu" SmithPhoto from

    With only four available scholarships, Sarkisian and his staff had to keep their fingers crossed that they would be able to use them on at least a couple of big-time recruits.

    The day started well when 3-star cornerback Simmons faxed his LOI early Wednesday morning, but that still left three spots to fill. While USC had grand notions for who would claim those spots, could the Trojans realistically expect it to happen?

    In fact, could any program possibly expect that three 5-star prospects, none of whom had given a definitive nod to the Trojans, would wind up inking their signatures when all was said and done?

    Yet, that was what happened when 5-star prospects Damien Mama, Adoree' Jackson and John "JuJu" Smith all signed with the Trojans.

    On a day when everything went right, delivering all four targets was the best news of all.


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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Even during the salad days of the Pete Carroll era, there were rarely days that approached the magnitude of success that Wednesday delivered to USC in terms of recruiting.

    Burdened by a scholarship allotment that was 10 less than their competitors and distributed by a coaching staff that only had a couple of months on the job, Sark and his staff delivered the goods in a big way.

    In terms of quality, this class has many stars, but perhaps as important, they fill needs on a roster that desperately needs bodies in the two and three deep.

    And one should not diminish the fact that going into 2014, USC will be riding a wave of good vibes knowing that if this staff can accomplish so much in so little time, imagine what awaits fans of the program when they really get settled.

    All in all, signing this class will act as a strong beginning to what the fanbase hopes will an even better end when sometime in the near future USC will vie for a national title.

    And when that happens, all connected to the program will point to this class as when the seeds of that title were planted.

    Quite a special day indeed.

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