USC Football Recruiting In “Purgatory” For Now

How USC coaches are handling recruiting amid upheaval

USC players take the field prior to last week’s unexpected but brutal defeat against Stanford at the Coliseum, prompting Clay Helton’s immediate dismissal. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/SCNG)

Adam Grosbard (OC Register)  —  As he arrived on Monday evening for his first interview as the USC football team’s interim head coach, Donte Williams was informed that he had a few minutes before his new, weekly spot on the radio program.

Williams excused himself, stepped a few feet away and used the small window of opportunity to call a recruit.

“That’s one-third of the job. So you may not have time, you find time,” Williams said Thursday. “Recruiting, everyone thinks it’s all day, 24-7. But I think recruiting is 25-7. You have to almost make an hour in the day.”

As with any coaching change, USC’s recruiting can be described as in a state of purgatory, at best. No major recruit is going to pledge to a university without a head coach, and Williams and the USC coaching staff aren’t exactly in a spot to accept such commitments before Clay Helton’s successor is in place.

But there still remains the issue of the current members of USC’s 2022 recruiting class. Ten seniors had already committed to USC before Helton was fired on Monday, including five-star prospects Domani Jackson of Mater Dei and Mykel Williams of Georgia.

Given the uncertainty around USC, some schools smell blood in the water. Trojans QB commit Devin Brown, a prospect who USC identified earlier in the cycle than most schools, picked up new offers from Ole Miss and UCLA in the days following Helton’s firing.

So Williams and the coaching staff are trying to send a clear message to both commits and other prospects about why they should still keep USC in mind as they go about this process.

“The structure is still in place. Hopefully, they still give us a chance as USC,” Williams said. “No matter what, USC is still USC. Still a great academic school. Still a great city. Still great alums. We’re going to make sure we keep the train on the tracks and keep this thing rolling.”

Williams said it hasn’t been hard to get the rest of the coaching staff to continue their efforts in recruiting, describing his peers as professionals who understand how the business works. And he hopes that USC’s in-season recruiting efforts outpace those of other teams who might be more focused on game planning.

For his part, Williams said he tries to call East Coast recruits first thing in the morning after he wakes up at 5 a.m. local time, then reaches out to West Coast kids in the evening after practice.

There have been some modest returns, too, as on Thursday five-star receiver Kevin Coleman from St. Louis announced he would be taking his last official visit to USC in November.

“I mean, we have a lot of great players on our team that after this season will leave. If those guys leave, you have to be able to replace them,” Williams said. “My biggest message to recruits is we’re not about changing anything here, we’re about enhancing everything.”

BRIEFLY

USC defensive ends Korey Foreman (foot) and Nick Figueroa (AC sprain) are both expected to play against Washington State on Saturday, Williams said during his morning press conference on Thursday.

ocregister.com

_________

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Trojan5
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September 17, 2021 9:04 pm

I hear there was a earthquake in LA. Anyone feel it? It will come as no surprise that I didn’t feel it in Oregon.

John Weld
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September 18, 2021 8:17 am
Reply to  Trojan5

It was in the south bay and about 9 miles deep, if you were more than 20 miles away, you did not feel anything.

LawyerJohn
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September 17, 2021 7:46 pm

It is the eve of SC vs Washington State, and since it is raining, I would like to withdraw my bet of 15,000 on SC with Washington State getting 8 1/2 points to start the game. OK, I get it, John, that was not written into the rules so by implication it has no place in any argument, so I will accept the verdict…. On another point since it is the beginning of another football season. Do you have any personal moral feelings about what these young men go through physically and mentally for our shallow t.v. entertainment? Footballers live… Read more »

Golden Trojan
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September 17, 2021 9:06 pm
Reply to  LawyerJohn

Hang in there LJ, SC will come through for us tomorrow. And you know the vast majority of football players go on to have very productive lives. I find they have special qualities that others don’t. It is true the longer you play football the shorter on average your life. I often wonder how the number of x-rays a player has factor into that. Is a short lived life lived large better than a long lived life lived small? If you know where you are going in the end does it really matter?

illinoisusc
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September 17, 2021 7:41 pm

Unfortunately…..Cristobal has now nearly reached the level that CPC had when he could point and expect to receive LOI’s from his selections. I suspect the 2023 recruiting year up there will be really hard on us. The class could be Bama level. We really will not know how Helton leaving will change things regarding recruiting until we know which assistants leave. If its a house cleaning….we might lose a few good ones unless the new coach is a “God”. If Donte stays along with a few others we might not even remember Helton has left. At the end Helton was… Read more »

illinoisusc
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September 17, 2021 9:47 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Franklin in 7 years has one big 10 title….went 11-3 that year……same year 2016 won the east….no other east titles…..no playoff appearances……lost to Helton in the Rose…….might have a good team this year…….yet to be seen. I don’t see it…..but who knows.

illinoisusc
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September 18, 2021 7:46 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Franklin has lost to a lot more teams than OSU.

Chris
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September 17, 2021 8:07 pm
Reply to  illinoisusc

Oregon is still a long ways off where Pete had us, in every regard. But Cristobal us definitely sticking it to us right now.

illinoisusc
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September 17, 2021 9:52 pm
Reply to  Chris

Chris…..I’am the guy that on other sites was getting whipped for saying Oregon was rolling….long before anyone else saw it……wait til 2023…..I think you’ll be shocked at what they bring in.

Chris
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September 17, 2021 4:37 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I ride the fence with Franklin. I think he is a really good recruiter and would certainly make hay at USC. I think being a black head coach at USC would have huge advantages as well. I just wish he would have won his big games over the years. I dismiss the losing to Clay Helton thing, He lost to Sam Darnold playing out of his mind and a team full of NFL talent. He’s significantly better than Clay.

Chris
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September 17, 2021 5:05 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

What’s crazy to me is how few coaches that I know would be great. All of those guys are already at great programs with head coaching jobs (Saban, Dabo, Riley, Day etc) or it’s Urban Meyer. None are leaving. Stoops and Peterson are proven really good coaches, but would they be great? so now we are at next tier and talking about the other guys- About 5 or 6 NFL coordinators, 5 or 6 up and comers with head coaching gigs at power 5 college, and another dozen coordinators. I guarantee that there would be one or maybe two that… Read more »

Trojan5
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September 17, 2021 7:13 pm
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Trojan5
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September 17, 2021 7:29 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Whoever the new coach is, he will have to clean house. Looks like a few guys are going to be run off.

Trojan5
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September 17, 2021 7:54 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

The portal is going to be busy. But the door swings both ways and the new guy could bring players with him. I suspect some guys will leave on their own, but I think others will be shown the door. When I read that players were late to meetings this week I was shocked. How in hell can anyone think it is ok to be late this week ; of all weeks!? Going forward a whole lot of bad habits need to be broken.

Steveg
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September 18, 2021 6:50 am
Reply to  Trojan5

Like I said a few days ago, there will be a few that want to test the changes, and they will suffer for it. Of course there are the pampered souls what will have hurt feelings, and those are the ones you want to either change the attitude or explain to them how the portal works. The majority of the players will fall in line and want to be the best they can be.

Golden Trojan
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September 17, 2021 8:55 pm
Reply to  Trojan5

Wow, how pathetic Helton was/is, what damage he has done and how hard it will be to correct.

Steveg
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September 18, 2021 6:52 am
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Donte has done the smart thing in taking baby steps. Had he come down hard he may have lost the team at the get go with them acting like spoiled children. Now he can step it up each week and his assistants HAVE to be on board with him, which I think for the most part they will be.

UtahTrojan
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September 17, 2021 8:10 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I have never been a fan of Franklin. Just had always seemed low energy that can’t get over the hump to being great.

UtahTrojan
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September 17, 2021 9:00 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

unfortunately his hiring would not inspire me much.

Steveg
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September 18, 2021 6:55 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Minds can be changed. I for one just don’t like the guy, but perhaps a solid argument can turn my opinion. I can see a few points already that show a positive towards him but I haven’t been swayed yet. The concept of recruiting is major in my mind, and if he is that good along with Donte they could be incredible together.

UtahTrojan
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September 17, 2021 8:09 pm
Reply to  Chris

My big toe is significantly better than Clay. Just saying.

Chris
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September 17, 2021 8:27 pm
Reply to  UtahTrojan

agreed. He should never be the bar for anyone who follows. My bad.

Steveg
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September 18, 2021 6:57 am
Reply to  Chris

You know Chris you are right. And along that line we often use Pete as the high bar which would be incredibly difficult to match.

Jalenbuck1
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September 17, 2021 4:12 pm

Not sure why Franklin keeps getting so much hype, why would he leave Penn State? looking back probably Helton’s biggest win came against him.

Steveg
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September 17, 2021 2:31 pm

The more I read about Bill Obrien the better I like him. He has college and pro experience as a HC and would surely bring an end to the air raid at USC. Currently he is OC for Saban just waiting for a call I am sure.

Steveg
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September 17, 2021 3:14 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

See there is the difference, you have the people to talk to, I just read about it. It seems to me if he is good enough for Saban, he must have some redeeming features which would be good for USC.

Steveg
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September 17, 2021 3:48 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

For sure Sark and Kiffen have both run out their welcome for being hired.

UtahTrojan
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September 17, 2021 8:37 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Saban takes on these “projects” once they have been humbled and therefore easier to mold. So far he has been pretty spot on as far as making them into being good for Alabama. What they do after they leave is on them.

Chris
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September 17, 2021 8:46 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

For sure. This run at Alabama is the greatest of all time. I don’t think it’s close.

Chris
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September 17, 2021 4:01 pm
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Bill O’Brien can coach and will get a big time job and do well there. He took over at Penn St with a huge mess and still managed to keep their head above water. He won 4 division titles in 7 years in the pros. From all accounts he was not a good GM, which is a hat he wore with head coach. Not too many guys are good at both roles, it usually ends up going south. But no doubt he is a really good offensive mind. I don’t think he should be near the top of our list,… Read more »

Steveg
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September 17, 2021 2:20 pm

Harrell make a comment that Mike Jinks was expected to be interim if Helton got fired. This shows the guys have talked about it before it happened. Jinks did have previous HC experience at Bowling Green, although he was not a huge success going 7-24 in three seasons. With that it sounds like Bohn made a good move with Donte.

Jamaica
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September 17, 2021 11:32 am

This man definitely has the right approach and his priorities straight. Recruiting today is a around the clock responsibility that the top football programs hire staffs to accomplish. Yes, when you are USC, located in the middle of a recruiter’s dreamland, you have an advantage. But if you don’t make recruiting a year around priority still, you will see programs from around the country come in and steal the goods right under your nose as we have been seeing. Williams obviously knows the ramifications and we should be damn glad he is on our side now to reclaim our turf… Read more »

HOF19
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September 17, 2021 11:20 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I do not see a situation where he would want to move on . BUT …The local NY Media have been (for about 6-7 weeks) hearing rumblings that he is treating Pro players like college players and Pro players seem to not respond to that well ….But I almost would be shocked if he would (this fast ) lose his “attraction ” of coaching an NFL team .

Jamaica
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September 17, 2021 11:46 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I could see Meyers getting into the good graces of Folt. But he would have to convince her he was a changed man and will follow her leadership without question. Sort of go to confession with her. He would really want the USC job bad in doing that.

UtahTrojan
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September 17, 2021 8:42 pm
Reply to  HOF19

I remember hearing the exact same things about PC.

Jamaica
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September 17, 2021 11:40 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Same thing happened to Saban at Miami.Spurrier in Washington and it actually took John McKay years to get it right. They went in thinking they could micro-manage things like in college and found out they were kidding himself. PC knew better when he went back into the pros, having experienced it all before. Meyer better realize he isn’t going to push pro-players like he did before. It won’t work. But Meyers & Folt probably would never work out.

HOF19
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September 17, 2021 11:08 am

I try NOT to agree (too much ) with big name media guys …..But about 5 minutes ago Colin Cowherd said live something that I hope this university agrees with (point of view wise ) .Colin said >>>>”This coach hire probably the most IMPORTANT hire in well over a decade ” <<<<<< Please look at it that way management people of this university ..Ever present on your minds USC AD (and USC President ) >>>>>This next move has to …….HAS TO be a “culture changing move ” ………FIGHT ON !!!!!

HOF19
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September 17, 2021 11:00 am

What I am gonna ENJOY from here on in that will be kinda new (Because it DID exist over the last 2-3 years ) is being around USC fans and NOT having even ONE SC fan in the crowd that would be stating that they do not mind losing because if we lose a game it could get Clay Helton fired . NOW we are all in the same boat and (hopefully ) no longer even having the thought of “it is ok to lose ” so lets all row in the same direction ongoing from here……Fight ON !!!!!

RialtoTrojan
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September 17, 2021 10:59 am

I finally watched the Donte Williams press briefing from his first day of practice as head coach. Two things stood out. He said there would be focus on holding the players accountable. “whether they come out for one play, one series or the whole game, they gotta get it right.” Hold them accountable, one of the things people have harped on for the past several years. Maybe things will change.
And he also said he spent most of his time watching the offense in practice. He needs to learn the “verbiage”. At least he knows he has things to learn

Chris
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September 17, 2021 10:25 am
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Lots of times, I live in Eastern WA. There is one road in and out, Pullman is pretty isolated. Hotels are non existent on game days, stay in Spokane and drive – 2 hours plus from Spokane to Pullman with football traffic. There isn’t any real large parking space so they have a good crew of people directing you to parking. Price is like it would be anywhere, the closer you are to the stadium, the more you pay. The stadium has had massive upgrades in the past few years and is now has some good amenities. The fans treat… Read more »

Chris
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September 17, 2021 10:39 am
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Yes, saw him beat Oregon and lose to Washington that year. That place was nuts for Minshew. He is a charismatic guy and embraced the madness, he can really play as well.

Chris
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September 17, 2021 9:50 am

Recruiting will be slow, too much uncertainty. But if we are in this situation Donte is the right guy to try and hold it together.

Golden Trojan
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September 17, 2021 10:41 am
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I wonder what recruits might be thinking. If I’m a 3*, I may not get playing time or even get an offer with a high powered coach. If I’m a 5*, I may want to wait and see. A 4* may take the offer banking on an upgraded recruiting class. It’s likely Harrell and Orlando will be replaced, so 5* skill guys are going to wait and see or choose a sure offer elsewhere. That has to be factor on Bohn when to announce the hire. Glad Williams is there to at least keep guys from committing elsewhere. Of course… Read more »

Chris
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September 17, 2021 10:46 am
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Great thoughts. I was thinking Donte is going to have to tell recruits to wait until 2nd signing period. I don’t think there will be any answers on coach until after that 1st recruiting period. Do you think he can convince some to wait?

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September 17, 2021 2:09 pm
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The way I see Donte is that if anyone can convince them to wait, he is the guy. He could sell igloos to eskimos I think. But I also think that with Helton gone the attraction of USC and publicity they are getting is going to entice some players to come. With Helton gone, all things are possible now.

RialtoTrojan
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September 17, 2021 7:33 am

Players are not stupid, they had to know that Clay was a dead man walking even if he was like a pigeon playing chess-“he’d poop on the board and strut around as if he won the game already.” They had to know that the coordinators didn’t respect Helton in any way. So now they don’t have that to worry about and they are playing for a well liked replacement. Maybe we’ll see some of that “potential” we’ve heard so much about.
It would be nice to see if the coordinators do their job and play a complete game on Saturday.

Steveg
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September 17, 2021 2:12 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I tend to think Orlando has been restrained to a degree in his intensity just to keep Helton out of his hair. Perhaps there will evolve a genuine mean streak in the defense, which could spread to the offense if Orlando kicks it into gear and drives the players to be all they can be.

LawyerJohn
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September 17, 2021 6:29 am

If the recruits SC now has in place were willing to play for Helton, would they not be willing to play for an upgrade coach?… Oh, and what happened to all those optimistic Trojan fans, many on this blog, who were prematurely celebrating the Trojans’ 2021 Season’s prospects?… Recall that many were predicting a 6-0 start, so 5-1 is still reachable. And the team has improved because it is no longer a squad of Clay. ND is not that great, Utah is beatable, and sucla usually finds a way to choke in big games, so anything is possible with this… Read more »

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September 17, 2021 7:26 am
Reply to  LawyerJohn

There really is no reason to change predictions. Obviously 6-0 is out the window but perhaps we need to take this team this season game by game. We should watch to see how things change or perhaps not change. I do believe intensity will increase and the coaching change has to have an effect on the players, hopefully positively.

Golden Trojan
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September 17, 2021 7:56 am
Reply to  LawyerJohn

I predicted 5-0 to start and 2-5 the rest of the way, with a qualified, at best. I figured there could be 1 or 2 Helton losses to inferior talent. Little did we know it would be a colossal loss in game 2 that would get him fired. Who knows how this team will respond. It may be like when Orgeron took over. But this team still has lack of depth and experience. But if they play with more fire they should win the ones they are supposed to and may get one or two of the ones they’re not.… Read more »

Chris
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September 17, 2021 10:30 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Colorado has a pretty terrible offense. I watched 2nd half hoping to see upset over SEC team. They didn’t move the ball at all.

Golden Trojan
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September 17, 2021 10:34 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

What I meant was Utah, Colorado and ASU look like they might be winnable games now. I still doubt SC can beat ND and we’ll see how UCLA and BYU play out the rest of the way.

Chris
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September 17, 2021 10:43 am
Reply to  Golden Trojan

BYU might be the best of those 3 teams. Clearly ND has best talent, but their D looks shaky. UCLA hasn’t beat anyone yet in my opinion, plus I just hate them. BYU is officially a scary game.

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September 17, 2021 8:25 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Weather in Pullman 55 and rain for Saturday. Good time to pound the rock if SC can.

TrojanMPA90
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September 17, 2021 9:46 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Will be interesting to see how the player respond to the firing. This is an important game to rebound and get back on track. The numbers suggest USC should blow out WSU but those games are the ones they struggle.