One of the benefits of the many recruiting camps and combines that take place in the spring and summer months is that players who have committed to the same school can get to know each other.
That concept certainly applies to the USC receiver group for the class of 2013 with Eldridge Massington (Mesquite, Texas/West Mesquite), Steven Mitchell (Mission Hills, Calif./Alemany) and Sebastian LaRue (Santa Monica, Calif./Santa Monica).
Over the past month, that receiver trio has been a part of three separate camps -- the most recent being The Opening in Oregon -- so there has been a real opportunity to bond over shared experiences before becoming college teammates.
“It’s been good to vibe with one another and connect with someone who has the same experience and who may be your roommate in college,” LaRue said. “It makes me feel like I have those guys on my side out here. It’s a beautiful thing to have guys like this who I can call if things are getting hectic because they are going through the same things I am.”
The group has been able to establish relationships through these camps with the recognition that they will all be playing for the same team some day.
“It’s a good brotherhood,” Mitchell said. “We’re not always on the same team out here like we will be at USC, but we’re competing and having fun.”
One of the interesting things about the trio is that they offer differing styles. At 6-foot-3, Massington is the tall receiver of the group while Mitchell and LaRue both measure in at 5-foot-11. One thing they all have in common, however, is speed. That’s one trait that USC head coach Lane Kiffin demands in his receivers because he wants guys who can make plays with the ball.
“We’re all dynamic,” Mitchell said. “Eldridge is a big, over-the-top receiver while me and Sebastian are kind of the shifty ones, so we all have slightly different skill sets. Just get the ball in our hands, that’s the main thing, all of us can do that. It’s why I like being a receiver because I feel I can be more dangerous with the ball in my hands. That’s my cup of tea right there.”
Mitchell and LaRue had a chance at The Opening to show those abilities when they advanced to the championship game of the 7-on-7 competition along with their future quarterback, Max Browne from Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline.
“Max Browne is a great quarterback,” Mitchell said. “He’s big and he puts the ball right on the money. He needs great receivers to throw to and I believe we’re the perfect fit for him.”
Massington also impressed onlookers at The Opening with his combination of size and speed. It’s a unique skill set that Kiffin has put to good use in the past and Massington said he has long been a fan of the Trojans, even while growing up in Texas. In fact, he committed to USC before ever visiting the campus, something he finally did last month. He said the trip confirmed to him that he made the right college choice.
“It was awesome to be at USC,” Massington said. “It was everything I thought it was going to be. I’ve always liked USC; I knew it was the best place for me even before I went there. The coaches are cool, the program will always be successful and I know the school is good. Coach [Lane] Kiffin loves throwing the ball to big receivers and that’s what I bring.”
Mitchell also considers himself a fan of the USC passing game, in particular the pair of current receivers who could be the best returning duo in the nation.
“I’ve been watching the USC receivers a lot and those are the type of receivers I want to be,” Mitchell said. “Guys like Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, they make plays with the ball in their hands. I want to go in there as a freshman and open up some eyes just like them.”
This trio of receivers isn’t at USC yet, but one thing they’ve learned is that they share the desire to compete, a trait that is a central focus of the Trojans program they will soon be joining.
“These guys are similar to myself in terms of being highly recruited so it’s a good feeling to be out here working together and getting better,” LaRue said. “We’re coming to USC because we want to compete. It’s part of being in the Trojan Family and that’s why we all made a commitment to be there.”