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USC Recruiting Roundup: An Elite 11 QB, commits on display and new offers

It was another week without a commitment for the Trojans, but USC coaches extended several more offers, a few USC commits were in action and there was some big news for a future Trojan signal-caller.

Moss Making Moves

USC quarterback commit Miller Moss (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) was featured in a couple big pieces of news this past week. The Elite 11 Finals will take place beginning June 29 in Nashville, and Moss is scheduled to take part as one of the 20 finalists.

Moss was invited to the event back in early March, after he was named one of two finalists out of the Los Angeles Elite 11 Regional. Notre Dame commit Tyler Buchner (La Mesa, Calif./Helix) was the other finalist out of that event.

Moss will be joined by two other quarterbacks headed to the Pac-12, as Washington commit Sam Huard (Burien, Wash./Kennedy) and Oregon commit Ty Thompson (Gilbert, Ariz./Mesquite) are scheduled to participate.

Former USC quarterback Jack Sears was named an Elite 11 quarterback in 2016, Ricky Town was named to the Elite 11 and Sam Darnold was an Elite 11 Finalist in 2014.

Moss also made news recently when it was announced that he would transfer from Alemany to Mater Dei. On Sunday, Mater Dei football players checked in and the school made sure to include Moss (second player shown) in the montage.

Alemany has a loaded roster and USC has commitments from players there in the 2021 (offensive lineman Saia Mapakaitolo) and 2022 (linebacker Niuafe Tuihalamaka) classes, and offers out to many others. But holding a commitment from the Mater Dei quarterback is usually a special thing for USC. Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley and JT Daniels are among the fairly recent MD-USC quarterbacks, while the Trojans also held a commitment from Bryce Young for a long time before he flipped to Alabama. In this Southern California landscape of Mater Dei, St. John Bosco and then everybody else, making a big impression at both of those programs is a big deal.

Right now, Oregon has as much claim to Mater Dei as any school, while Clemson pulled Bosco quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei last year and has a commitment from Bosco wide receiver Beaux Collins in the 2021 class. But USC is working to claw both schools back. USC 2021 linebacker commit Ma’a Gaoteote and offensive line commit Maximus Gibbs are both St. John Bosco Braves, and the Trojans signed defensive tackle Kobe Pepe in the 2020 class and tight end Jude Wolfe and linebacker Ralen Goforth in the 2019 class, as well as added cornerback Chris Steele via transfer.

But the Trojans are in a bit of a dry spell when it comes to Mater Dei. Daniels, wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu were major additions in the 2018 class, and ultimately wide receiver Bru McCoy counts as a Mater Dei commitment following his back-and-forth with Texas, but the Trojans didn’t sign anybody from the school in the 2020 class and were getting shut out there in the 2021 class until Moss’ transfer.

While USC coaches are more than capable of going in on their own and building that pipeline back to where it should be, having Moss there for a season recruiting for the Trojans can’t possibly be a bad thing.

Oregon Continues to Roll

Speaking of Oregon’s presence at Mater Dei, the Ducks landed a commitment this past week from four-star cornerback Jaylin Davies (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei). Davies was down to Arizona State, Ohio State, Oregon and USC before he made his decision.

Inside the USC bubble, where Trojan coaches, staffers and fans are concerned, USC doesn’t need to be concerned with Oregon. As always, if USC takes care of the things it needs to take care of–something that looks increasingly like it’s happening with every new hire and decision from Athletic Director Mike Bohn and the program–it doesn’t matter what other Pac-12 programs do. But looking at it through a macro lens in terms of the recruiting picture as a whole, Oregon has gone punch for punch with every bit of momentum USC has been able to put together with its new staff and spring recruiting push.

USC holds the No. 5 recruiting class in the country right now, but Oregon is there at No. 6, with two fewer commits. The Ducks came into California for five-star wide receiver Troy Franklin (Menlo Park, Calif./Menlo-Atherton) and beat USC into Arizona for two top Trojan lineman targets in Bram Walden (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro) and Jonah Miller (Tucson, Ariz./Sahuaro).

Davies becomes the second Mater Dei prospect in this class, joining wide receiver Kyron Ware-Hudson. Oregon has a real shot at adding top-100 prospects Xavier Worthy (Fresno, Calif./Central East) and Dont’e Thornton (Baltimore/Mt. St. Joseph)–two USC targets–to what would be an unbelievable wide receiver haul.

And now with Davies on board, cornerback recruiting between the two programs is going to be especially interesting to watch. The dynamic with former Oregon assistant Donte Williams now coaching cornerbacks at USC already made the recruiting battles between the two programs fun to watch, but the Trojans and Ducks are squarely in the mix for what might be USC’s top two targets at Williams’ position–four-star corners Nathaniel Wiggins (Atlanta/Westlake) and Ceyair Wright (Los Angeles/Loyola). They are the Nos. 71 and 72 prospects nationally according to 247 Sports and would be impactful additions on their own, but would be an absolutely massive pair for either program to land together. USC’s fallback options at cornerback are beginning to dwindle a bit, but if the Trojans do what they need to do with those two targets, there shouldn’t be any complaints about the recruiting performance at the position.

Oregon was able to gather so much recruiting momentum over the past two seasons, landing the Pac-12’s top class in both 2019 and 2020 after USC held that distinction so many times over the previous two decades. While USC coaches have been able to establish some real momentum of their own over the past five months, it was always going to be difficult to completely stop what Oregon had built on the recruiting trail. Now, it’s become a fun battle to watch develop in the conference, with Washington nipping at both programs. Ultimately, the on-field performance this season from USC and Oregon could go a long way toward helping or hurting the momentum that both staffs have built during this long period away from the field.

Tight End Offer

USC holds a commitment from tight end Lake McRee (Austin, Texas/Lake Travis) in this class, but the Trojans appear to be just fine taking a second, as the staff extended an offer to the nation’s No. 1 prospect at the position in Thomas Fidone (Council Bluffs, Iowa/Lewis Central).

There is certainly a type the Trojans are going for there, as the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Fidone is similar to McRee in that he functions best as a jumbo receiver that can exploit size matchups out wide against cornerbacks and speed matchups in tight against linebackers. Fidone lined up in the slot and out wide a ton last season and like McRee, he’s also a basketball player, able to use that jump-ball ability against smaller defensive backs. He can block cornerbacks out wide, but there isn’t much video of him inline, going up against defensive ends and linebackers.

He has offers from all over, as Iowa, LSU, Michigan and especially Nebraska are thought to be out front, but Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Texas have all offered as well.

Tight end target Michael Trigg is another two-sport athlete in high school, and he made the announcement this week that USC is now recruiting him as a scholarship athlete in both football and basketball. USC has something of a blueprint there, as wide receiver Drake London played both sports as a true freshman last year.

USC Commits on Display

USC commits have been workout out during this time away from organized football, and several were seen at various locations this week.

Wide receiver commit Michael Jackson III (Las Vegas/Desert Pines) continues to look like a prospect that could see a rankings boost following the first few games of his senior season.

Fellow USC wide receiver commit Quay Davis (Dallas/Skyline) put on a show with some highlight-reel catches at a 7-on-7 event over the weekend.

USC offensive line commits Mason Murphy (San Juan Capistrano, Calif./JSerra) and Saia Mapakaitolo (Mission Hills, Calif./Alemany) were in attendance at The Exclusive, with Giant Skillz over the weekend. Murphy, like Jackson, is another player who has been impressive wherever he’s shown up over this offseason. Murphy is closest to the camera in the clip, in front of the line farthest to the right, while Mapakaitolo is at the back of Murphy’s line.

New Offers Extended

USC handed out a couple of 2022 offers last week, as running back Jaylen Thompson (Playa Del Rey, Calif./St. Bernard) and linebacker Jaishawn Barham (Hyattsville, Md./St. Francis Academy) joined the Trojans’ target list.

Thompson played for new USC Offensive Quality Control Analyst Chris Claiborne for the past two years at Calabasas High School before transferring this offseason.

Barham is another target for the Trojans in the DMV–D.C., Maryland, Virginia–a region USC has increasingly looked to following the hiring of defensive line coach Vic So’oto, who developed some solid relationships there while coaching at Virginia.

Barham is the No. 40 overall prospect in the 2022 class and the No. 2 prospect in Maryland. USC does have a commitment from a prospect in that region in the 2021 class, as defensive lineman Colin Mobley (Hyattsville, Md./DeMatha Catholic) is committed to So’oto and the Trojans.



Erik McKinney
Author
Erik McKinney

Erik McKinney began writing for WeAreSC in 2004, during his junior year at USC, covering the Trojans football team and recruiting. He then moved on to ESPN.com in 2011, where he served as the West Region recruiting reporter and then the Pac-12 recruiting reporter. He took over as publisher of WeAreSC in January, 2019.


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