In the wake of national signing day, national and local publications take to the sport of naming the big “winners and losers” in the recruiting cycle.
In years past, USC has experienced its fair share of losing, but that was far from the case this time around. In fact, nearly every national media service to put out a “winners and losers” list had the Trojans in the win column.
USC: The Trojans stood to have a big signing day, and Steve Sarkisian and staff certainly delivered. Not only did USC win the hotly contested battle for five-star athlete Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra), but the Trojans won the race for ESPN 300 No. 24 Juju Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and signed No. 67 overall Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) as expected. More than the names and rankings, Wednesday was a huge perception win for the Trojans and Sarkisian. USC jumped to No. 14 from No. 24 in the RecruitingNation class rankings.
USC: With a new coach in Steve Sarkisian and scholarship limits, expectations were low for the Trojans. They made up for low numbers with quality recruits, led by American Family Insurance ALL-USA defensive back Adoree Jackson of Serra (Gardena), ALL-USA offensive lineman Damian Mama of St. John Bosco (Bellflower) and defensive back John “Juju” Smith of Long Beach Poly and made a huge one-day jump in the overall composite class rankings.
The team that had the best day on Wednesday was Steve Sarkisian and the USC Trojans. Three of the top 38 players in the nation, including two five-star talents, picked the Trojans over Pac-12 rivals UCLA, Oregon and others. Adoree’ Jackson (No. 7 overall) was the highest-ranked uncommitted player in the nation and he picked USC over UCLA, LSU and Florida. JuJu Smith (No. 20) was the fifth-highest rated uncommitted player in the country and he picked USC over Oregon, UCLA and Notre Dame. Those two five-star prospects also keep USC’s streak of landing at least one five-star prospect since 2003 alive. Damien Mama (No. 38) is one of the highest-rated four-star prospects in the nation and the massive offensive guard picked USC over UCLA and Notre Dame. Not only did Coach Sark land some elite talent but he beat his conference rivals in the process. The Trojans moved from outside the top 25 to No. 11 in the final team rankings and put together the best class in the Pac-12.
Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated also highlighted USC’s class in this video, noting the victories in recruiting battles with UCLA for Mama, Smith and Jackson.
Adam Kramer and Michael Felder of Bleacher Report broke down the Trojan class in their own “winners and losers” video.
Something that Trojan fans can take particular joy in — UCLA was named a signing day loser by more than a few services as well.
Here’s ESPN’s take on the Bruins:
UCLA: Along with USC and South Carolina, the UCLA Bruins came into today with the most to gain. While Jim Mora and staff scored with four-star linebacker Kenny Young (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian), it was mostly misses throughout the day. Jackson and Smith picked crosstown rival USC, while Dupre opted for home-state LSU. At defensive end, the Bruins missed out twice on Wednesday with Thomas selecting Stanford and Godchaux sticking with LSU. And finally, No. 52 overall Rashaan Evans (Auburn, Ala./Auburn) stayed in state by picking Alabama over Auburn.