USC on minds of many at Opening

BEAVERTON, Ore. -- Even with dynamic two-way athletes Michiah Quick (Fresno, Calif./Central) and John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly) lining up with the offense Monday in the first day of The Opening, the defensive backs were a standout group as it relates to USC recruiting.

Roommates Adoree’ Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra) and Adarius Pickett (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito), as well as 2015 defensive back Iman Marshall (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), four-star cornerback Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and four-star safety Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University School of Nova South) all turned in good showings during one-on-one drills. Brown, the nation’s No. 5-rated cornerback and No. 3-rated prospect in the state of Texas, also reached the SPARQ championship finals after posting some impressive numbers in preliminary testing, including a pair of 4.35 times in the 40-yard dash.

“On a daily basis, I try to contact coaches that recruit me,” said Brown, a world-class sprinter ranked No. 27 in the ESPN 300. “I try to contact every coach. I’m still open. My month of June was all track and field, so I haven’t had time to chill and go through everything. Whenever I get the chance, I’ll definitely start narrowing everything down.”

USC is one of the schools on the fringe, but Brown said he has high interest in the Trojans.

“I’ve talked with coach Tommie Robinson about how I fit into the program and what their depth at cornerback looks like,” Brown said. “Their defensive coordinator thinks highly of me. I feel like anywhere I go, I can compete and get a starting spot. The depth chart is not really a big deal to me, but knowing they need help at corner makes it even better.”

The 6-foot, 188-pound Brown said he has not solidified any official visits, though USC could be in the running for one of the five spots.

Unlike Brown, Pickett -- the No. 17-rated cornerback and ESPN 300 member -- knows he will officially visit USC this fall.

“I know for sure I want to go to UCLA, USC and probably Purdue,” the 6-foot, 185-pound Pickett said.

Pickett’s high school teammate, four-star linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito), is scheduled to announce his decision live during the ESPNU telecast on Wednesday night. Even though they have weighed the same batch of schools along with ESPN 300 running back Joe Mixon (Oakley, Calif./Freedom), Pickett said he’s not nearly as close to a commitment.

“As for me, I want to make sure I make the right decision,” Pickett said. “I don’t want to decommit from anybody.”

Pickett went to school with USC linebacker and fellow Bay Area native Michael Hutchings as a freshman and also knows Trojans cornerback Chris Hawkins. He said his relationship with assistant coach Clay Helton has grown tremendously since the spring evaluation period when USC offered him a scholarship, and the Trojans’ lack of depth at the cornerback position is an appealing factor.

“All these schools I’ve been offered by have great tradition and great academics, so that’s not going to be one factors,” he said. “Early playing would be good for me, so that’s why I’m considering some schools a lot too.”

To The Opening, via Los Angeles

Several local prospects made the trip up the West Coast for the annual showcase, but they weren’t the only ones flying in from Los Angeles. Top overall prospect Leonard Fournette (New Orleans, La./Saint Augustine) and four-star outside linebacker Richard Yeargin III (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./University of Nova South), who competed at USC’s Rising Stars Camp last week, were also among that group.

Fournette, in fact, raved about his trip to Los Angeles and enjoyed it so much he’s decided to return in the fall.

"I don’t know which date yet, but I know for sure that I’m going to make them [USC] one of my officials,” the 6-foot-1, 232-pound five-star running back said. “My overall experience out there was real fun. The coaches are down-to-earth and fun to be around. They want to know what’s going on in your personal life and it’s not just about football. They want to know how your grades are and how your family is doing -- that’s what made me make them one of my officials because you don’t find that at every college. They kept it real with me and I enjoyed it.”

Fournette had lively conversations with his recruiter, fellow Louisiana native Ed Orgeron, and some players.

“Being in California was the best part,” Fournette said. “I didn’t know anything about USC, really. I knew they had the first 2,000-yard rusher in college football history, Marcus Allen. They have a lot of history and I enjoyed it out there. It was fun for me. Getting to know the coaches personally was cool.”

Yeargin shared a similar sentiment.

“It was a great experience being that it was my first time in California,” the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Yeargin said. “I spent some good time with the coaches on the visit and learned some things at the camp. They really want me to play at their predator position, where they don’t have much depth right now. Coming in as a freshman and playing right away is possible.”

The relationship between assistant coach Tee Martin and Yeargin got serious in the spring when the Trojans first offered. It’s grown more intense by the week, to the point that Yeargin, like Fournette, now intends to use one of his official visits on USC.

“Definitely, USC will be one,” Yeargin said, adding that Florida, Michigan and Tennessee might be three others.

Louisiana defensive lineman will officially visit USC

Four-star defensive tackle Garrald McDowell (Covington, La./Covington) had perhaps the best showing of any USC recruit on Monday morning, dominating the one-on-one portion of drills at Bo Jackson Field. The No. 9-rated defensive tackle said afterward his interest in the Trojans is high.

“I really like them,” McDowell said. “They send a lot of players to the NFL and they have a great coaching staff. I know they like my effort, my explosive first step and the pressure I put on offenses. It’s been a while since we’ve chatted but I still keep them in mind. I’m going to visit them in the fall. Getting recruited by them has been big, really. I watched Reggie Bush when I was young. He did a lot of good things at USC and I feel like I can too.”

Though many projections have the 6-foot-1, 257-pound McDowell eventually landing at Florida, he said he doesn’t expect distance to play a factor in his decision. McDowell is rated No. 108 overall in the ESPN 300.