This weekend’s battle in the desert between USC and Arizona State will not only carry massive implications in the Pac-12 South, but it might also serve as a grand opportunity for the Trojans to boost their recruiting efforts there.
One prospect who will be watching USC with “very high” interest is ESPN 300 outside linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito), who committed to the Trojans at The Opening in July but has since scheduled an official visit to Arizona State for the weekend of Oct. 18. The outcome of Saturday night’s duel will not be an ultimate deciding factor, though a good showing is important nonetheless.
“It’s about the school,” said Calhoun’s father, Derik. “ASU has been on him daily.”
Many other recruits will be watching the primetime showdown, including ESPN 300 offensive tackle Casey Tucker (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), a former USC commit who re-opened his recruitment in April. Tucker will not be in Tempe but will be paying close attention as two of his top schools go head to head.
The final score will carry little importance in his overall thought process, yet Tucker will be analyzing what in-game adjustments are made and how depth charts compare.
“It really depends on the coaching, school and opportunity,” said Tucker, the No. 1-rated player in the state and No. 38 overall in the nation.
Tucker’s high school teammate, ESPN 300 defensive end Qualen Cunningham (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton), also has the Trojans and Sun Devils in his top five. He unofficially visited Texas A&M, where his father played football, for the Aggies’ game against Alabama earlier this month and intends to take a trip to USC after the season.
The game might also affect how some Class of 2015 prospects view both programs as the recruiting process unfolds. ESPN Junior 300 receiver Christian Kirk (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro), who is rated No. 1 in the state for the 2015 class and was one of only five underclassmen to attend The Opening, will keep a close eye on the game even though he will not be at Sun Devil Stadium.
“I’ll be watching some of it,” said Kirk, whose offer list of 22 programs includes USC and Arizona State. “I’ll just be watching the offenses go at it. They both have a lot of weapons. The matchup is very important. You always have to see yourself in these offenses, but the outcomes don’t matter so much because you really can’t like one school over another based off one game.”
The Trojans also extended scholarship offers to ESPN 300 tight end Mark Andrews (Scottsdale, Ariz./Desert Mountain) and four-star receiver Jalen Brown (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe) in the 2014 class, but Andrews has since committed to Oklahoma and Brown eliminated USC from consideration.
USC also has offers out to defensive end Ismael Murphy-Richardson (Goodyear, Ariz./Desert Edge) and three-star offensive tackle Andrew Mike (Tucson, Ariz./Sabino). In the 2015 class, Kirk is joined by offensive guard Jake Grant (Scottsdale, Ariz./Horizon), four-star offensive tackle Keenan Walker (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral), outside linebacker Cassius Peat (Tempe, Ariz./Corona Del Sol), running back Paul Lucas (Phoenix, Ariz./Mountain Pointe) and athlete Bryce Perkins (Chandler, Ariz./Chandler) as prospects of interest.