Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day 2014: Grade and Analysis for USC


Steve Sarkisian’s USC Trojans had recent Signing Day fortunes turned upside down on Wednesday, when high-profile recruits Adoree’ Jackson, John ‘Juju’ Smith and Damien Mama all pledged their name to the cardinal and gold, live on ESPNU.

For the Trojans, Jackson, Smith and Mama aren’t just the cherries on top of a respectable class that fills needs, it’s a big step forward into life beyond recruiting sanctions, which are now a thing of the past.

USC signed a maximum number of 19 players on Wednesday, the third and final class suffering from a reduction of scholarships stemming from Reggie Bush’s improper benefits violation from 10 years ago.

With California in the midst of a down year in terms of recruiting talent, Sarkisian went strictly after needs both in state and out of state, assembling a well-rounded class despite its size.

The Trojans desperately needed help in the secondary following the departure of safety Dion Bailey and the inconsistiences at cornerback. They ended up signing eight guys that could end playing defensive back, including two-way projects in Adoree’ Jackson, Juju Smith, Rahshead Johnson and Ajene Harris.

With the depth in the class’s defensive back haul, Sarkisian now has the luxury to use athletes at wide receiver, the other glaring need for the Trojans. Jackson and Smith will get every opportunity to star at receiver before giving it a go as defensive backs, which helps USC live in life after Marqise Lee.

Lastly, the Trojans needed help up front of the offensive line and got it. With new offensive line coach Tim Drevno, an overhaul of the line seems to be in order, as USC signed five offensive linemen on Wednesday.

Damien Mama leads the way as a four-star guard, followed by four-stars Loa Lobendahn, Viane Talamaivao and Chris Brown. There should be plenty of early reps in store, especially for Mama, who could benefit from early playing time before he takes a two-year Mormon mission.

Overall, given the handcuffs of sanctions and a late start due to his hiring two months ago, this was a near perfect first class for Steve Sarkisian.

GRADE: A

Name Pos Ht/Wt Stars Rank
Jordan Austin OL 6-5/267 63
Chris Brown OL 6-6/285 16
Bryce Dixon TE 6-4/230 5
Malik Dorton DE 6-3/227 16
Jalen Greene QB 6-3/195 14
Ajene Harris ATH 5-11/170 41
Don Hill DE 6-3/240 NR
Adoree’ Jackson ATH 5-10/172 1
Rahshead Johnson WR 5-11/175 19
Toa Lobendahn OL 6-3/290 2
Jonathan Lockett DB 5-11/172 10
Damien Mama OL 6-5/360 1
Uchenna Nwosu DB 6-2/185 NR
Claude Pelon DT 6-5/285 NR
John Plattenburg DB 5-11/187 34
Lamont Simmons DB 6-2/185 NR
John Smith DB 6-1/207 2
Viane Talamaivao OL 6-3/300 5
Olajuwon Tucker DE 6-4/225 11

Rankings & ratings via Rivals.

Tags: Football National Signing Day 2014 Pac-12 USC Trojans

  • TDOG

    By far the best Offensive Line haul in the nation – with JuJu and Adoree as the double cherries on top.

  • Ben Factor

    Michael, I agree that Sark did a very good job in light of the various challenges. A very good job.

    Consider, however, the following:

    Rivals has a ratings scale that is more detailed than the 5-star system.

    5-star: 6.1
    high 4-star: 6.0
    medium 4-star: 5.9
    low 4-star: 5.8

    AND SO ON.

    USC’s class averaged 5.764

    UCLA’s class averaged 5.761.

    Stanford: 5.725

    Oregon: 5.633

    What grade do you give UCLA?

    What grade do you give Stanford?

    What grade do you give Oregon?

    IMHO, parity has arrived.