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January 30, 2011

USC rolls toward signing day

NOTES: Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | NSD coverage

Nothing is slowing down USC - not NCAA sanctions, not Oregon winning the Pac-10 and playing for the national championship, nothing. The Trojans continue picking up big-time commitments, picking off top-notch recruits from other schools and doing what USC always does as National Signing Day approaches.

Four-star offensive guard Cyrus Hobbi out of Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro picked the Trojans over Arizona State and UCLA on Friday, coming on the heels of USC flipping four-star running back Amir Carlisle and four-star linebacker Anthony Sarao from Stanford.

The Trojans might not be done loading up in this class. Four-star linemen Aundrey Walker and Troy Niklas, four-star receiver Junior Pomee, four-star defensive lineman Christian Heyward, three-star cornerback Ryan Henderson and perhaps other big-name prospects are still being pursued.

Hobbi's commitment was a big one, especially after he admitted that early in his recruitment USC was almost completely out of it. Hobbi even said he and his family thought the coaching staff was a bunch of "jerks."

But that's only a testament to the relentlessness that USC's staff continued to show Hobbi, who slowly began to develop relationships with coach Lane Kiffin, offensive line coach James Gregg, linebackers coach Joe Barry and others. Hobbi visited USC in recent weeks and decided that it was the best fit for him.

"We went out there and we caught them at a bad time," Hobbi said. "They were starting to get their sanctions at that time. I think it was that day when we went out there. They apologized for that later and said they kind of messed up. Me and my family didn't really like it that much either, we were like 'Those guys are jerks.' We thought we'd give them another shot."

More recruiting notes

Union City (N.J.) offensive lineman Josue Matias appeared set to stay close to home and suit up for Rutgers. However, on Saturday night, the four-star lineman had a change of plans when he informed Warchant.com of his recruitment status.

"I'm headed to Florida State," Matias said. "I just feel as an offensive lineman they are going to do the best job to develop me in college and prepare me for the next level."

After losing offensive tackle commit Christian Westerman to Auburn, Texas has made a run at a couple of prospects committed to other Big 12 South programs. Rockdale (Texas) offensive tackle Le'Raven Clark decided to stick with his Texas Tech last week and the Longhorns moved on to Cedar Park (Texas) offensive tackle Spencer Drango. The Rivals250 longtime Baylor commit eventually decided against an official visit to Austin and will be sticking with the Bears.

Oklahoma has not received a commit since the summer and the Sooners' class appeared to be complete. However, they are making a serious push for Coppell (Texas) cornerback Bennett Okotcha. Okotcha, a one-time Wisconsin commit who switched to Notre Dame recently, camped in Norman last summer but left without an offer. After Brandon Carter switched to TCU, it forced the Sooners to evaluate him again. Sources say Okotcha is torn between the Irish, to which good friend and teammate Cam McDaniel is also committed, and the Sooners.

Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville three-star linebacker Frank Clark said it's a three-horse race between Michigan, Michigan State and North Carolina once again on Saturday. He has been visited by coaches from all three schools of late. He has a good relationship with Michigan State and North Carolina, and he said he's getting to know new Michigan coach Brady Hoke better. That said, he maintains that it's difficult to get to know someone in such a short period of time.

Jim Ward, the head coach of McKeesport (Pa.) four-star defensive tackle Delvon Simmons, went on record about Rutgers' recent resurgence with his prized prospect. Though Simmons had eliminated Rutgers earlier in the process he recently began thinking about the Scarlet Knights again. That had more to do with his positive feelings toward head coach Greg Schiano than anything else. Schiano had one final meeting with Simmons just before he left for USC this weekend. USC, Oregon, Rutgers, Pittsburgh and Texas Tech are the schools in play here.

At 3 a.m. last Wednesday, the parents of Ronnie Harris, a three-star cornerback from Atlanta (Ga.) Westlake, were awakened by a phone call from the Stanford coaching staff, who informed them their son had been admitted into the prestigious university. When Harris was given the news, he knew he'd commit to Stanford. Yet he waited until Saturday to finally pull the trigger and make it official. The reason: It was both his grandmother's 60th birthday and his parents' wedding anniversary.

Manning (S.C.) four-star defensive tackle Phillip Dukes, the country's No. 101 prospect, will announce Tuesday at 11 a.m. Dukes has visited Alabama, Clemson, North Carolina and South Carolina. The feeling among many is that the Gamecocks will land the coveted lineman, who shined at last month's Offense-Defense Bowl. Yet there are those who believe Clemson has made a strong push and is very much in the mix.



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