Sarkisian, National Signing Day Conference
After getting filling all 19 spots and rounding up three five-stars, USC head coach Steve Sarkisian discussed the Trojans new recruiting class. See what he had to say... Pretty exciting day, exiting week to be a Trojan. Starting on Sunday and then up and through today. I want to say first before I get into the class and the players how proud I am of our coaching staff. What these guys have been able to do in a short amount of time. Staring with the two coaches that remained on staff from the previous staff, Tee Martin and Clay Helton, and what they did to the players that were committed to us, and what they were able to do with the players that were not committed to us yet and holding onto them. And then after we brought on one member of the coaching staff after another and what they were able to do and come together and bring together a fantastic recruiting class in such a short amount of time. They deserves a great deal of credit. And then to think in the past few weeks, the majority of it being a massive dead period in the middle, we signed of our 19, 12 kids that weren't committed when I got hired. So I think that we signed a really balanced class. One that's competitive, that has very competitive individuals, and both high character that will fit in great. At an institution, you don't quite often think about that there's 51,000 applicants to USC. 2,600 will get into school here and we get 19 of them on our football team. I think they will all do a great job representing USC. On the offensive side of the ball, really felt like the offensive line was a big need for us. Just in terms of depth and so to sign five offensive lineman, some of who will have an opportunity to contribute early on is big. It's a balanced group, and I know a lot of people want to label them as offensive guards, but quite honestly I think a lot of them could be offensive tackles. But it's a great group, and a group that was much needed. Then you start talking about tight ends and Bryce Dixon, who we just think is a dynamic player, and who can, again, come in and contribute right away. It was a big need for us. And then to the quarterback position, Jalen Greene—a kid who is here already for us—is just a winner. He's a thrower, he has the ability to run it, I think he's fantastic that way. On the defensive front, Claude Pelon, the JC transfer is an immediate impact type guy and then you throw in Malik Dorton and Don Hill, guys with a kind of Devon Kennard type body. The length for linebacker at us was big. You look at Uchenna, you look at Olajuwon, both of those guys are tall, long rangy players. We want those kind of guys who can go against the spread offenses. Then you go to the athletes, In my opinion we needed to be deeper with DB body types. One for offense, and two, for special teams. We really needed to address that, and I think we nailed that with a few big bangs today, I think three if you start with Lamont Simmons in the morning today. You put it all together, this is really a complete class. We intentionally didn't recruit a running back because with the guys we have at that position right now today. We have great depth. Four guys who can step in right now and we thought with only 19 scholarships, we had some needs we needed to address and I think we did a good job of that. All in all, it was a fascinating process. To come on board in early December, then have a month where it was an absolute dead period and then finish in a two week span, it was just a great job by our coaches. I thought the first piece of the puzzle was how the guys played in the bowl game and got a great win in the Las Vegas Bowl, and then the second piece was this recruiting class. The big piece was getting those five mid-years, and ultimately out 19. The next piece in the puzzle is conditioning during the offseason, and then we'll work our way onto spring ball, and summer camp and so on and so forth. So this is another piece to the puzzle, that we can check that box and say okay, we got the right type of players and the right program and we couldn't be more excited about that. In response to Adoree Jackson not submitting his LOI yet: That has not come in yet. I can acknowledge that we are recruiting him. Sometimes through transit, it takes a minute, but we are anticipating it. In response to how different it is to recruit at USC vs. Washington: The reception that we got going into ever high school here in southern California was tremendous. We are the University of Southern California, and for us recruiting starts right here. We've got to do a southern California, and the reception was just tremendous. I've always tried to keep good relationships with the coaches and different people here in Southern California and I thought that really paid dividends here down toward the end. But all in all, when you have the cardinal and gold and the interlocking SC and you walk into those high schools, there is a great deal of respect. In response to what today was like for him: It was like being the fourth quarter of a game, maybe you're down by 10 or 7 and you just play great football in the fourth quarter. You score a touchdown, maybe you get a turn over and you just play really well. At the end, there was some anxiousness, some nervous excitement, but then the joy of victory. In response to if he really did find out Juju Smith was coming on TV: Yes. I use to say this: if you don't know before they announce, it's not a good sign. But I can honestly say today, that theory got thrown right out. We sat there just like everybody else and I think there are a few videos going viral right now showing our sheer excitement. We had a gut feeling, but when it comes true, your emotions come out. In response to have multiple commits who can play both sides of the ball: We have a good idea of which side of the ball they're going to start on, but we're going to give them the opportunity to play on the other. In my opinion, if you can excel on both sides of the ball, that gives you good versatility moving forward. If you're a good DG, you're a good receiver too; you've got good hands. The easy guy to point to is Richard Sherman right now. He was a wide receiver for the first half of his career at Stanford, then he ends up moving to DB and now in the last three years, no one has more interceptions then him in the NFL. He's got great ball skills. So that's been a mindset of ours, we've wanted to find players like that. A good example is John Lockett. As good as he is at DB, some of his best highlights are on offensive side of the ball. We've made it a point to recruit that type of guy. In response to specifics of where they will play: Ajene Harris will start on offense, Rahshead Johnson will start on offense, John Lockett will start on defense, Plattenberg on defense, Lamont Simmons defense and Juju will start on offense. In response to being worried about Adoree Jackson not submitting his LOI yet: I can't speak on the past or directly about the individual. I can say we do really well of developing relationships with the young men we recruit, so I'm confident in the situation that we're in it will be favorable for the Trojans In response to how important Tee Martin was to recruiting: Tee's done a fantastic job. His energy, hi work ethic, his relentlessness in recruiting has been tremendous. I think he does a fantastic job of, again, developing relationships with the high school coaches. But I don't want to leave Clay Helton out of this. Everybody has a role in the style of which we recruit. I think both guys did a great job in terms of the transition. Proud of both guys and their willingness to continue recruit under USC, even with some uncertainty. In terms of Clay Helton being a "relentless closer:" Clay's got a little bit of that southern…I don't know what it is…Hospitality. That's the word I'm looking for. Parents, the kids, they really connect with them. They're not rushed conversations. The quality of the conversations they have with the parents and with the kids holds true. I‘ve have to battle Clay a few times, where I though geez we got this guy, and Clay keeps coming around and around, so they're just relentless in what they do. They do a great job of it. It's different then other guys on our staff, but that's what you need. Every situation is different. In terms of which recruits he is excited to work with: There's a lot of great guys in here. Two guys I'm excited to see and get my hands on, the first guy is Lamont Simmons out of Florida. When you just turn on the film and forget how many stars and who else has offered him, and just watch his film, he's a fantastic player. He's a shade over 6-foot-2, he's physical and he can run. And I'm excited about Uchenna Nwosu. This guy, I think is future is so bright. He's long, he's athletic. Those two guys to me, where they are today and where they'll be in three years, I think the sky's the limit for them. Get in the discussion with other USC fans in the "Fight On! SC Insiders Forum"
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