With spring practice in the rear view mirror and players fully entrenched in the stretch run of their academic coursework, the USC football coaching staff has shifted its energy to competing on the recruiting trail. Carrying a tidal wave of momentum from national signing day into the spring evaluation period, Coach Sarkisian and his assistants have spread out across the country to check in on the nation’s prep elite.
The Trojans have had success with a slew of early commitments in recent weeks despite national signing day for the 2016 class still nine months in the distance. Already holding pledges from elite linebacker Daelin Hayes from Ann Arbor (Mich.) Skyline High School, California-born two-way player Isaac Garcia from Bellevue (Wash.) High School, and local product Mique Juarez from North Torrance High School, Sarkisian and company managed to double their current class in a single week.
Leading off the massive week for the Trojans was Nathan Smith from Murrieta (Calif.) Mesa High School, a huge addition to the class—both figuratively and literally. Measuring in at six-feet six-inches, Smith hails from the same area of Southern California as current Trojan defensive mainstay Su’a Cravens, albeit from a different high school. Smith wasted little time in jumping on USC’s recently extended offer.
Less than 24 hours removed from landing Smith, Sarkisian’s staff landed highly coveted prep offensive lineman Frank Martin II from USC pipeline Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei High School. While Martin’s commitment is certainly a tremendous pickup for the 2016 Trojan class, it can hardly be considered a surprise. Since the 300-pound Martin received an offer from the Men of Troy in February, popular opinion surrounding his recruitment seemed to indicate that his pledge to USC was more a matter of when than if.
Now that Smith and Martin are set to attend Southern Cal, new offensive line coach Bob Connelly can rest easy with his position group’s projected depth going forward.
In a huge week for offensive line recruiting, the third and final pledge came from a player that will all but assuredly be the most diminutive of the recruiting class—five-foot eight-inch athlete Melquise Stovall from Lancaster (Calif.) Paraclete High School.
Stovall, a lightning rod-type game breaker is a particularly interesting addition for Coach Sarkisian because of his offensive versatility and raw explosiveness in the backfield. Possibly the most intriguing aspect of Stovall’s game is his ability to make a defender miss at the point of contact—a highly valued quality of any running back in Steve Sarkisian’s offense. The most likely projection for Stovall would pin him as a running back, but given Sarkisian’s penchant for creatively using his personnel, we will have to wait and see precisely where Stovall eventually lines up.