By Johnny Curren
A look at some notable developments that have taken place in the world of USC football recruiting over the last week.
Sears flips to USC
With word having already begun to leak out, heralded Class of 2017 quarterback Jack Sears (San Clemente, Calif./San Clemente) confirmed on Sunday night that he had flipped his verbal pledge from Duke to USC earlier in the day.
The move certainly didn’t come out of nowhere. Sears, who committed to the Blue Devils this past August, continued to maintain communication with the Trojans coaching staff throughout the fall, and Head Coach Clay Helton was in attendance at a San Clemente game late last month. More recently, Sears took in USC’s victory over Oregon in the Coliseum on Nov. 5.
In Sears, the Trojans get an elite quarterback prospect with 6-foot-3, 203-pound size, outstanding mobility and a strong arm. Hailing from the same high school as current USC starter Sam Darnold, whom he backed up as a sophomore, Sears plans to enroll early, and he fills a real need at quarterback in the Trojans’ recruiting class, particularly with Max Browne set to transfer following this season.
USC is already set at the position for the Class of 2018 as well, with signal-caller Matt Corral (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian) firmly in the fold.
More offers go out
As the commitment of Sears indicates, the USC coaching staff has been hard at work not only on the field, where the Trojans have reeled off six consecutive victories, but on the recruiting trail as well. In fact, Helton and Co. dished out five new offers in the last week alone.
Here’s a look at those five players:
* ATH De’Gabriel Floyd (Los Angeles, Calif./Hawkins) – Class of 2018
Standing 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Floyd lines up at running back and outside linebacker at Hawkins, and the Trojans coaches got an up-close look at him in action at both positions at the Rising Stars Camp this past summer. With Hawkins sitting right in USC’s backyard, it always seemed to be more a matter of when, not if the Trojans would come through with an offer, so this was anything but a surprise. He also holds offers from Arizona, Boston College, Colorado, Illinois, Michigan, Pitt and Tennessee.
* ATH Talanoa Hufanga (Corvallis, Ore./Crescent Valley) – Class of 2018
Like Floyd, the 6-1, 193-pound Hufanga is an extremely versatile athlete capable of lining up at safety, linebacker or receiver on the next level. He’s a talented prospect whose stock is soaring these days, with programs like Michigan, UCLA, Oregon and Oregon State having also offered.
* WR Joshua Moore (Yoakum, Texas/Yoakum) – Class of 2018
Already holding over 30 offers, Moore figures to be one of the most pursued wide receiver prospects in his class. Notre Dame, Ohio State and Tennessee are thought to have an edge at this early stage of the process, but he has expressed interest in taking an unofficial visit to USC this summer.
* DE Tyreke Smith (Cleveland Heights, Ohio/Cleveland Heights) – Class of 2018
Another fast-rising prospect, Smith is a fantastic athlete with 6-4, 240-pound size. He currently holds close to 20 offers from the likes Michigan State, Penn State and Tennessee. That number figures to grow dramatically in the coming months.
* TE Jeremy Patton (Yuma, Ariz./Arizona Western College) – JUCO
Standing 6-6 and 240 pounds, Patton is a pro-style tight end who can do it all. Pursued by the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, and Louisville, he committed to Arkansas this past June. The Trojans have one tight end currently committed in Danville (Calif.) Monte Vista’s Erik Krommenhoek, but with a desire to add one more player at the position in the next signing class, USC extended an offer to Patton on Sunday.
Jarrell lists USC in Top 3
Class of 2017 safety K.J. Jarrell trimmed his list to three schools this past Friday, and USC made the cut along with Arizona State and Cal.
The Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro star has already been to USC twice, most recently in early October when he took in the Trojans’ victory over Colorado. Later that same month Helton was spotted on the sideline at one of his games.
That being said, the 6-3 Jarrell plans to take an official visit to all three of his finalists, and he won’t make a decision until Signing Day, so there is still a long ways to go in his recruitment.
The Trojans undoubtedly want to add at least one, if not two more cornerbacks in the Class of 2017 on top of current USC pledge Wylan Free (Lynwood, Calif./Lynwood), but the number of available prospects continues to dwindle.
Not only did Jaylon Johnson (Fresno, Calif./Central) recently commit to Utah, but Elijah Molden (West Linn, Ore./West Linn), another cornerback USC was involved with at one time, committed to Washington this past weekend, with the Trojans apparently not even in the discussion at the end.
The USC coaching staff is still heavily involved with some notable prospects, however, including Darnay Holmes (Calabasas, Calif./Calabasas) and Cal commit Je’Quari Godfrey (Oakland, Calif./Bishop O’Dowad), the latter of whom just received a Trojans offer earlier this month.
With the way that USC has been performing on the field, it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Trojans make a real run at some other high profile cornerbacks currently committed elsewhere in addition to Godfrey, such as Florida commit Elijah Blades (Pasadena, Calif./Muir), Oregon commit Deommodore Lenoir (Los Angeles, Calif./Salesian) and Arizona commit Greg Johnson (Los Angeles, Calif./Hawkins) among others. Blades, Johnson and Lenoir have all been spotted at USC home games in recent weeks. You can be sure that the Trojans will continue to pursue Jaylon Johnson as well.
The USC coaches are also working on a potential immediate impact addition in Brenham (Texas) Blinn College cornerback Kendall Sheffield, formerly of Alabama, and there appears to be definite mutual interest. After taking an official visit to USC when he was a senior at Missouri City (Texas) Thurgood Marshall, Sheffield officially visited the Trojans for a second time earlier this month. Sheffield would have three years to play three.