Garry: OK Johnny, let’s get this session started by talking about the official visit weekend that just took place. There was a good group of officials, and a terrific group of unofficials, who got to see that exciting game. What is some of the feedback you’ve heard from the official visits?
Johnny: Well, the fact that all of the players got to see a big Trojans win certainly didn’t hurt, and there was just a ton of energy in the USC locker room that the recruits really fed off of. As far as the official visitors, I think they all had a great time – particularly linebacker Osa Masina. He had a big smile on his face all day, and his family really seemed to enjoy it as well.
Garry: Masina is the one who jumped out to me as well. And I think you can make a case for him being the biggest priority among the visits so it was good to see things go well.
Johnny: USC looks to be in a good place with him right now. ASU and UCLA are certainly still there as well, but I think the Trojans made a move this past weekend.
Garry: I’m paying a lot of attention to Tafua too, especially with the fact that the coaches are visiting him this week.
Johnny: Yes, Johnny Nansen will be in Honolulu on Wednesday. The coaches have told him that they see him filling a similar role to J.R. Tavai for the Trojans at rush end. He’s currently committed to BYU, but USC, Oregon and others are still in the race here. He hopes to take his LDS mission right after high school, so that could be an interesting factor to watch.
Garry: Heading into the weekend I would have classified Settle, Jackson and Smith as out of state long shots, anything you hear that would change that line of thinking?
Johnny: For the most part, I think that probably is still the case. Settle, who is a huge 6-foot-3, 339-pound defensive tackle, could be a realistic option, but he reportedly has some big academic hurdles to overcome. Oklahoma State, Washington State and Virginia Tech are some others vying for his services. Donte Jackson had a great time by all accounts. Adoree’ Jackson was his host and the coaches told him they would use him in a similar way — as a cornerback/wide receiver. USC made a move, but it might be hard for them to overtake Georgia and LSU. Smith might be the hardest read, and the likely biggest longshot. He actually took an unofficial to USC as well this past summer, but I’m not sure he’s willing to leave the South in the end.
Garry: Not only was it an excellent showing from some of the top local kids on unofficial visits but two out of state guys jumped out to me in Chuma Edoga and Porter Gustin. The fact that Edoga made the trip out for the game says a lot to me about squashing any lingering doubt about how serious he is about his verbal, and the fact that he will be an early enrollee speaks volumes as well. With Gustin, there has to be some legit interest to take an unofficial like that, especially when he could be taking an official so quickly after that.
Johnny: Certainly great for the USC coaching staff to have Edoga there, and all signs point to him being 100 percent Trojan. By all accounts, Gustin might have had the best time of anyone there. He had over 20 family members and friends with him, and was clearly enjoying himself. ASU, Notre Dame and some others are certainly still factors, but the Trojans have to feel good right now when it comes to Gustin. And as you mentioned, he might be coming right back on an official this weekend, although there is a chance that gets bumped back,
Garry: And then this is the first week that the coaches can make in-home visits, and they aren’t wasting any time in hitting the top names on the wish list. There are no major surprises in terms of who we have heard them visiting, it’s the names you would expect from Rasheem to Biggie to Ykili, etc. Is there anything from this week that stands out to you?
Johnny: I think it’s just the determination and energy shown by this staff. As you mentioned, they didn’t waste any time. They had in-home visits with guys like John Houston, Rasheem Green, Ykili Ross, DeChaun Holiday and Isaac Whitney on Sunday — the very first day they could. They also visited with Iman Marshall on Monday, and they’ll also visit others like Chris Clark, Javarius Davis, Mike Weber and Tyler Petite this week – some as early as today (Tuesday).
Garry: The last point I want to make here is on Tyler Petite and the fact that the coaches will see him this week, I would say don’t close the door on that possibility just yet.
Johnny: I agree. It was down to USC and Duke before he pledged to the Blue Devils, and the fact that he’s even having an in-home with the Trojans at all has to be seen as a positive sign. USC’s lack of depth at tight end is obvious, and you have to think that is weighing on his mind just a little here.
Garry: And these in-home visits will be followed by another important official visit weekend. It will be interesting to see what happens with Christian Kirk after his in-home was postponed due to strep throat, hopefully there aren’t any issues with making the trip. I think it’s a longshot for Kirk but anything can change with a good visit and he’s certainly a game-changer type. It would be great to have him there with Ricky Town and Cameron Smith, a pair of verbals who he got to know last July at The Opening. And then you have Godwin, another out of state guy.
Johnny: Kirk is pretty hard to get a read on. He’s got a ton of options and he’s played it really close to the vest. If you ask most people, they’ll say that Texas A&M and ASU are the most likely to land him, but the Trojans staff has really made it clear just how much they want him, and with a good visit, who knows. And yes, it can’t hurt to have Town and Smith there to work on him. Keep in mind, Kirk is also an early enrollee, so the suspense won’t go on for too much longer. Godwin is a tremendous talent, but he’s also a Georgia commit, and at least going into the trip, he has to be viewed as somewhat of a longshot for the Trojans.
Garry: Thanks Johnny. We will do this again next week.