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Recruiting Talk (1-23)

Garry Paskwietz and Johnny Curren update where things stand with USC recruiting following the verbal commit from linebacker Osa Masina. 

GarryP: Johnny – more good news coming today for the Trojans with the verbal from Osa Masina. It’s not like it was any kind of secret or anything as the vibe had definitely been there ever since his official visit that SC was the place for him but always nice to see it become “official” with the verbal commit.

Johnny: Masina is certainly a huge get for the Trojans, especially as we head down the final stretch of this year’s recruiting cycle. With USC in pursuit of a limited number of remaining prospects, Masina’s verbal builds some nice momentum for Sarkisian and Co.

GarryP: It really makes this potential linebacker group one that could be special. The rumblings this week out of Serra are that Oregon is no longer really an option for John Houston, which is nice to hear that things look done for him, and then the possibility of Gustin, although he might be at rush end. There is a real good chance this group could come together.

Johnny: There really is. The recent rumblings on Houston are positive to say the least, and it would really be a big surprise at this point if he doesn’t wind up at USC. The Trojans also have to be considered the favorite for Gustin, but ASU and Ohio State are still there as well, and he’ll visit both programs in the next two weeks – ASU this weekend, Ohio St. next. He still might also visit Utah at some point on a midweek trip, but I don’t think they’re really going to be a serious factor.

GarryP: My primary worry for Gustin is Urban Meyer, I’ll be holding my breath a little on that one. And there was more recruiting news for the Trojans today with the news that Tristan Payton would be decommitting. Again, not a surprise, and neither was the de-commit earlier in the week from Taeon Mason. It’s the cold part of recruiting but those rumblings had been out there for a few weeks that SC would need to open up a pair of spots, and those two names were the ones most often mentioned.

Johnny: You’re right, the rumblings about Mason and Payton have been around for while, so this isn’t really a surprise. The fact that neither had taken an official visit to USC was definitely something that caught people’s attention. Mason had been known to be communicating a lot with Washington State, and he’ll likely end up there. Payton took a visit to Louisville previously, and he’ll trip to Central Florida this weekend.

GarryP: And there are also rumors coming out this week about Clayton Johnston. A lot of the rumors that we heard on Mason/Payton and on Johnston, as well as Jay Jay Wilson, involve the potential of blue shirting. This is a new term that has risen up in the last year but it involves a recruit coming in and counting against the next year’s class, with one of the important caveats being that the player did not take an official visit, which Johnston hasn’t. It’s all part of the delicate balance of managing scholarship spots at the crunch time of recruiting and some recruits don’t mind talking about a blueshirt but some do, such as Wilson.

Johnny: That’s right. As you mentioned, Johnston has not taken an official visit to USC yet, so that, along with the fact that he hasn’t had an in-home visit with the Trojans staff, certainly appears to allow him to be classified as a non-recruited athlete – which you need to be considered for a blueshirt. Johnston is supposed to meet with the USC staff up at campus – as early as this weekend – so we could find out more about this soon. In regard to Wilson, he is also a blueshirt candidate, but the latest news on him is that he might need some convincing. ASU appears to be the favorite, with Colorado, Utah and Ole Miss there. All of those have offered traditional scholarships.

GarryP: Yeah, the Johnston situation opens up the thought of needing a spot for Kevin Scott with his recent offer, which was discussed as a potential blueshirt but came back as a full offer. It’s a reasonable possibility when you consider that Johnston has been committed for a while and yet still hasn’t taken a visit, but is still in discussions with the coaches. If things can somehow work out to bring in Scott I would be in favor of that, he’s got a lot of potential as an interior defensive lineman and I just think you can always have room for those guys on your team.

Johnny: Big, talented defensive linemen are hard to find, especially in Southern California, so it’s not surprising that USC is coming after Scott hard here at the end. The Trojans are in the thick of it now, but he’s coming off a trip to Purdue, and he’ll visit Miami (Jan. 23) and possibly Ole Miss(Jan. 30) coming up, so USC has some real competition. If he visits USC, it would likely be a midweek trip.

GarryP: And very telling that they offered Scott a full ride, probably understanding all that competition and the fact that a blueshirt offer may not be enough. Speaking of defensive tackles, what are you hearing on Trenton Thompson and the slim chance of him squeezing a USC visit in here at the end?

Johnny: It’s looking less and less likely that Thompson will come in for a visit. He wound up visiting Auburn instead of USC last weekend, and most consider him to be a Georgia lock anyway. We’ll see though, maybe he’ll come in for a late trip due to his relationship with USC DL coach Chris Wilson.

GarryP: What do you make of the recent visit to go see Ty Wheatley? A lot of USC fans, myself included, figured that Michigan would be the likely destination once his dad was hired there but the SC coaches are continuing to show interest in him as a defensive end.

Johnny: The Trojans definitely still seem to be interested, and vice versa on the part of Wheatley. You have to think that Michigan has the inside track now, but he is still saying that he’s wide open, and maybe he really is. He’s got trips coming up to UCLA and Oregon, and he’s already visited USC and Alabama. Will be interesting to watch what happens here, because a lot of people are kind of forgetting about him.

GarryP: I’m real intrigued by the thought of Wheatley as a defensive end, lots of potential there.

Johnny: With USC”s lack of depth at TE, I wouldn’t rule him out on that side either. A really versatile guy.

GarryP: Yeah, especially if things don’t work out with Jay Jay Wilson as a potential tight end recruit. To wrap things up, we already talked Houston and Gustin status as two of the remaining “Big 4” so give an update on where thing stand right now with Biggie Marshall and Rasheem Green.

Johnny: Marshall has had a busy couple of weeks, visiting Florida State and Michigan, and he has LSU on tap for this weekend, and Oregon on Jan. 30. The Trojans still look to have a very good shot in this one, but he’s been playing his recruitment extremely close to the vest, so I’m not sure anyone knows for sure. Green will be at ASU this weekend along with Gustin. He had a great time on his USC visit, and I think the Trojans are still the favorite here. He’s also looking at Oregon and Miami, and LSU has made a late run at him with Ed Orgeron, but I think it’s just a little too late.

GarryP: ok Johnny, that wraps things up. We will do this again next week, plenty of interesting times left to go before signing day.

Garry Paskwietz

A 1988 graduate of USC with a degree in Sports Information. Worked in sports marketing for LA Lakers and Miller Brewing Company. Began covering the Trojans in 1996 with the Trojan Football Fax. Founded WeAreSC in November 1998 with stints at Scout and ESPN. Emmy-winner while covering high school football at Fox Sports West.

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