When Steve Sarkisian was initially hired to become the next head coach of USC football, many were not thrilled with Athletic Director Pat Haden's decision. A lot of people said he didn't 'hit a home run' and it wasn't a sexy hire, but putting all of that aside, the 'Sark Knight' hit a home run on National Signing Day.
USC perfected a clean sweep of the 'Big Three' selections on National Signing Day with No. 3 athlete John "JuJu" Smith (Long Beach Poly), No. 1 guard Damien Mama (St. John Bosco), and last but not least, No. 1 overall California prospect Adoree' Jackson (Serra) all putting on cardinal and gold hats on Wednesday.
In addition to this highly touted trio of four- and five-star recruits alike, Sarkisian also received signed commitments from 11 other players, including No. 1 ranked tight end Bryce Dixon (St. Bonaventure), four-star defensive end Malik Dorton (St. John Bosco), and four-star wide receiver Rahshead Johnson (Long Beach Cabrillo).
Sarkisian deserves a lot of credit for being able to pull this caliber of a recruiting class with such a limited amount of time after being hired just a little over two months ago and he did so with limited resources as well, having just 19 scholarships in his arsenal as opposed to the normal 25.
Though, Wednesday marked the official end to USC's recruiting sanctions and they will be back up to full strength in 2015.
Coming into National Signing Day, I would say the 2014 class was hovering around just about average at a B, but with the day's commitments, it has soared to a solid A. According to 247 Sports, USC now has the No. 1 overall recruiting class in the Pac-12 and is ranked 11th in the nation.
Aside from rankings, the Trojans' coaching staff has indeed, fully addressed their roster needs in this recruiting class. Up front , they did so by bringing on board six offensive lineman, which was vital following the departure of starting right tackle Kevin Graf and center Marcus Martin to the NFL draft. With an already thin offensive line, it is very likely that one of these signees will start next season as a true freshman.
Furthermore, on offense, Sarkisian replaced tight end Xavier Grimble, who also left for the draft, with the nation's No. 1 tight end in Dixon. Wide receivers coach and recruiting guru Tee Martin also picks up some phenomenal athleticism on the outside with Adoree', "JuJu", and Rahshead Johnson teaming up to try and replace former Biletnikoff winner Marqise Lee.
Finally, the secondary got a big boost with the signings of the nation's No. 3 ranked cornerback, in Adoree' Jackson. He is complemented by the signing of four-star cornerback Jonathan Lockett from Mater Dei. With their new signees, I would look ou for this Trojans' defense in 2014 led by new defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox.
Sark was able to produce this stellar recruiting class, but how did he accomplish this with such limited time and resources?
Sarkisian is someone who was already familiar to the USC program and is from the Southland. He grew up in USC's backyard in Torrance, Calif. and familiarity has been a key tool to Sarkisian's success in recruiting. Even at Washington, he was seen as one of the best recruiters of Southern California high school football players. Fifteen of the 19 signees are from California and it is so imperative that Sarkisian kept these kids close to home, rather than letting them dash away.
Though, the Trojans lost to Notre Dame and UCLA on the field last year, they beat their rivals out on the recruiting trail this year by pulling in recruits that were also considering those schools.
The second great reason for the Trojans' success is the job done by recruiting ace Tee Martin, who did his part in bringing in Southern California's top recruits like Adoree' Jackson.
Now that the 2014 class is complete, it's time for 'Spring Ball', and for the coaching staff to get on the recruiting trail to hopefully put together the program's first 25-man recruiting class in what seems like a while.