by Johnny Curren and Garry Paskwietz
Here are notes, quotes and observations of USC recruits in attendance at The Opening event in Oregon.
* Heading into The Opening, there was a lot of interest in seeing how both USC commit Stephen Carr and Alabama commit Najee Harris would perform on center stage, and neither disappointed during Friday’s Nike Football Training Camp. Carr showed off his quick feet and hands in the early drills, before winning about half of his one-on-one battles. Harris, meanwhile, started off slow in the one-on-one “cat-and-mouse” period, but then stole the show, dominating the competition over his final reps, and then winning a best-of-three dual with heralded linebacker Dylan Moses, 2-1.
* Cornerback Darnay Holmes also had a standout day in the one-on-ones, taking a best-of-three “cat-and-mouse” battle against Tyjon Lindsey, 2-1.
* A pair of USC recruits – Holmes and Salvon Ahmed – tied with a blazing 40 time of 4.32 in testing. That time would have been the fastest time for a corner at the NFL combine this year, and would have tied former ND wide receiver Will Fuller for the 2nd fastest time overall. Both players advanced to the five man final 40-yard dash, which was won by Jeff Thomas.
* Lindsey had an impressive 3.86 shuttle, while Jaylon Johnson had a shuttle time of 4.0.
* Current USC players Adoree’ Jackson, Toa Lobendahn and JuJu Smith-Schuster are among the 17 college players serving as coaches for the event.
Sears close to a decision
USC Class of 2017 quarterback target Jack Sears (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente) has narrowed things down to four schools, with the Trojans making the cut along with Duke, UCLA and Utah.
“There’s a lot of positives for USC,” said Sears of the Trojans. “I’ve had a great experience getting to know Coach Clay Helton, and also Coach Tyson Helton. And the campus is beautiful. I love everything about it.”
Sears has checked out all four of the schools that he’s considering in-person over the last few months. In fact, he actually took a visit to USC for the second time recently.
“I was up there probably a week-and-a-half or two weeks ago – the day before I went to UCLA again,” Sears said. “I spent a few hours there hanging out, just getting used to the coaching staff and spending time with them. I figured it couldn’t hurt.”
Planning to make his decision later this month, Sears is still very much torn at this point in time.
“Once I know, I’ll pull the trigger,” Sears said. “I’m trying to really make the right decision, and once I do pull the trigger I’m not looking back.”
Leatherwood plans to visit USC again
Highly touted Class of 2017 offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood (Pensacola, Fla./Booker T. Washington) made the long trek to Los Angeles last month to take part in the Rising Stars Camp at USC, and it’s safe to say that the experience left a positive impression on the Alabama commit.
So much so, in fact, that he now considers the Trojans a serious contender for his services.
“They do have a shot,” Leatherwood said. “I like the direction that the program is going in, I have a good relationship with the coaching staff, and I just see a lot of potential there.”
In a sign further confirming his interest in the Trojans, Leatherwood said that he will make a return-trip to campus in the future.
“I will take an official visit there for sure,” Leatherwood said.
Leatherwood also has definite plans to officially visit Alabama and Michigan.
USC in the mix for Falo
Class of 2017 tight end Josh Falo (Sacramento Calif./Inderkum) is still wide open when it comes to his recruitment, but he did admit that USC is one of the schools that he is currently seriously looking at.
“I don’t have an official list right now or anything, but some of the schools are Oregon, USC, Alabama, Michigan and Texas A&M,” Falo said.
The Trojans recently secured a pledge from fellow Class of 2017 tight end Erik Krommenhoek, but the staff at USC has continued to come after Falo heavily, and he’s still very much considering the program for a number of reasons.
“One, it’s close to home. It’s in L.A. – I love L.A.,” Falo said. “And besides the football, it’s a great education. I hear mostly from the tight ends coach, Coach Baxter. We have a great relationship. We talk every week.”
Falo (photo above) has visited USC, Oregon and Texas A&M in recent months, and he has plans to take an unofficial to Alabama on July 17, as well as Michigan on Aug. 6.