USC spring evaluation overview: Defense

LOS ANGELES -- USC coaches hit the recruiting trail for the first time this spring since the post-signing day staff shakeup, using the evaluation period to reset their boards and assess prospects from all corners of the country.

Here’s an overview of the evaluation period as it relates to defensive recruits:

Defensive line

USC added commitments from defensive end Austin Maloata (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and juco nose tackle Michael Wyche (Chesapeake, Va./East Los Angeles College) to gain some steam heading into the summer. Defensive end Malik Dorton (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco) landed a long-awaited offer, as did promising 2015 defensive end Rasheem Green (Gardena, Calif./Serra). Assistant coach Ed Orgeron checked in with defensive tackle commit Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central), while USC also made sure to travel up the coast for defensive end Connor Humphreys (Portland, Ore./Central Catholic) and nose tackle Ainuu Taua (Lompoc, Calif./Lompoc) before the period ended.


Assistant coach Mike Ekeler, who has strong ties in the Midwest, returned to his old stomping grounds to recruit ESPN 150 members Clifton Garrett (Plainfield, Ill./Plainfield South) and Nyles Morgan (Crete, Ill./Crete-Monee). While four-star prospect Dwight Williams (Gardena, Calif./Serra) eliminated the Trojans from further consideration despite not holding a USC offer, the staff did make progress with another four-star, D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito). An offer went out to 2015 standout John Houston Jr. (Gardena, Calif./Serra) as the staff looked to get in early with one of the region’s better underclassmen.

Defensive backs

As expected, assistant coach and leading Los Angeles area recruiter Tee Martin made Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) one of his first stops on the trail. USC showed increasing interest in Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco teammates Naijiel Hale and Jaleel Wadood, while four-star prospect Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) dropped by campus for an unofficial visit. The Trojans also saw cornerbacks Jonathan Lockett (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei), John Plattenburg (Corona, Calif./Centennial) and Denzel Fisher (Compton, Calif./Centennial) during the period. Out-of-state safety Mattrell McGraw (River Ridge, La./John Curtis Christian) picked up an offer, while the Trojans officially entered the fold for 2015 stars Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) and Marvell Tell (Encino, Calif./Crespi).