USC permanently distanced itself from Steve Sarkisian yesterday, but the dust along the recruiting trail has only begun to settle and so far not so good for the Trojans. We told you on Sunday that 4-star LB Daelin Hayes had decommitted from USC. Now comes word that 3-star WR Velus Jones tweeted out that while he is still committed to USC, his recruitment is now open as of yesterday.
I'm still verbally committed but my recruitment is open. It is unfortunate what has happened to coach Sarkisian and I wish him the very best— velus jones Jr. (@VelusJr) October 13, 2015
Jones, a speedy wide out from Saraland High School in Alabama, has had a great senior season so far. He’s racked up 5 receiving TDs, 2 rushing TDs, and 3 special teams TDs (2 kick-off returns, 1 punt return) on limited touches through seven games. He also has offers from Florida, Mississippi State, and UCLA.
But that’s not all. To make matters even worse, USC’s recruiting class took its biggest hit to date this morning when 5-star LB Mique Juarez announced via Twitter that he has decommitted from the Trojans and will reopen his recruitment.
Mique had been USC’s highest rated recruit from the incoming class and is in the middle of a dominant senior season at North Torrance High. It’s worth noting that Mique’s waning interest in USC was the worst kept secret in most recruiting circles and the chances of losing him were already pretty high before the Sark situation unfolded. But losing him still hurts on multiple fronts. First off, we all know the USC defense has struggled up front this season and even though they are young, they still can’t afford to lose elite defensive talent like Juarez. Secondly, the school that benefits most from this is UCLA, as they are now officially the front runner (if they weren’t already) to land him. Juarez also has offers from Ohio State, Michigan, and Notre Dame.
Losing the speedster Jones might not be as big of a deal, but it does have some big picture implications. While the Trojans have a surplus of incoming receiving talent for the class of 2016, Jones’ situation exposes a potential recruiting predicament as it relates to the future of Wide Receivers Coach Tee Martin. It’s impossible to know which coaches from the previous regime will be retained, but Tee Martin is probably the most important when it comes to recruiting. Martin has been recruiting Jones for some time now and the uncertainty surrounding his future employment is probably why Velus has one foot in and one foot out at this point.
And Jones isn’t the only recruit with a close relationship to Coach Martin. On Monday, 4-star WR Tyler Vaughns told Scout.com the following:
"Tee Martin is my guy, he's the one who has been recruiting me this whole time." Vaughs said. "I'm pretty comfortable saying that as long as he stays, I'll be a Trojan. that's not to say if he's not around I won't go to USC but I'm close with Coach Martin and it would be great to play for him. I'm just going to let things play out and focus on my senior season. I feel good about USC though and it will take a lot to get me to go anywhere else."
In recent years Martin has recruited some of USC’s most talented players including Juju Smith, Adoree’ Jackson, and Iman Marshall, so the next coaching regime is going to have quite the dilemma on their hands when it comes to keeping him or not. If they ultimately decide to let him go, they run the risk of losing a lot more than just a wide receivers coach.
Elsewhere, other USC commits have reacted to the news of Sark’s firing, but thankfully most seem to still be solid to the Trojans.
4-star DT Keyshon Camp told Scout.com on Monday that "[he’s] still committed to USC." Meanwhile, both 4-star ATH Michael Pittman and 4-star DB C.J. Pollard retweeted messages that seem to support their USC commitment, while 4-star OL Frank Martin tweeted out a crying emoji when Daelin Hayes announced his decommitment, possibly a positive sign for the Trojans (I can’t believe I just wrote that sentence). 2017 4-star RB Stephen Carr also told San Bernadino Prep Sports that the head coaching change has not changed his commitment to USC at all.
However, despite the positive signs from some, the fact remains that the Trojans have likely lost three high-profile recruits in just three days and odds are there will be more to come. Here’s hoping the next head coach and his staff can keep the Trojans exceptional 2016 class from completely imploding before signing day.
Be sure to keep up with Conquest Chronicles for the latest USC recruiting news as it develops.