Reports of USC head football coach Steve Sarkisian’s leave of absence hit Twitter Sunday afternoon and many Trojans commits were blindsided by the news.
Ann Arbor (Mich.) four-star linebacker Daelin Hayes decided to re-open his recruitment shorty after.
“At this time my family and I have decided it’s in my best interest for me to de-commit from the University of Southern California,” said Hayes in a tweet Sunday. “I’d like to thank the USC staff for the opportunities they have placed before me.”
Hayes, who plans to graduate from Skyline High School in December, signed early enrollment paperwork for USC last month. However, those financial aid documents do not bind a recruit to a school.
Hayes, who has missed the past few weeks with a shoulder injury, said he will now officially visit Notre Dame and possibly Michigan or Michigan State. An official visit to USC now appears in doubt.
But most of USC’s 2016 commits took Sunday’s news in stride. Bishop Amat four-star athlete Trevon Sidney had the most to say about the situation.
"I kind of understood with the divorce and his wife taking his kids and the house,” said Sidney. “It's not impacting me too much, but there's a little bit there that I'm watching.
“I'm just wondering if Sark is going to be there or whether Clay Helton will stay and be the head coach. I want to know what the other coaches are going to do too. But I'm still pretty much all SC.”
Exton (Pa.) four-star tight end Cary Angeline withheld commenting until he had contact with the USC coaching staff about sunday’s news.
"I really don't have any comment,” Angeline. “I haven't spoken to any of the coaches about what's going on, so I don't have questions until I get to speak with them about the situation.
“I was a little surprised by the news when I first heard it, but I don't know if it affects my recruitment until I talk with the staff. Right now, nothing has changed for me.”
Mater Dei offensive linemen Frank Martin has been to several USC home games this season and is considered one of the biggest Trojan fans among the 2016 commits.
"I was surprised and a little disappointed when I heard the news,” said Martin. “It doesn't really impact my commitment, but I still want to talk to Coach (Bob) Connelly and the staff to see how things play out.”
Uncertainly in a coaching staff can kill out of state recruiting for a school. Of the Trojans 15 commits, USC currently has six players in the 2016 class from outside California.
"I'm a little surprised right now about what's going on,” said Lakeland (Fla.) four-star defensive tackle Keyshon Camp. “I really don't know what's going on because I haven't got in contact with the coaches yet, but before I assume anything and make a decision, I want to be able to talk with the coaches."
Camp, who's fresh off his official visit to Michigan, says he plans on getting out to Los Angeles for his official visit on Nov. 7.
Bishop Amat five-star wide receiver Tyler Vaughns had a similar response to the news.
"I'm not sure what to think, I haven't really had a chance to digest everything,” said Vaughns. “It just happened, so I'm not sure if I'll take some visits or not.
“I was already thinking of taking a few, but have no idea where right now. Tee Martin was always my guy at USC and he's the coach I'm closest with. As long as they keep him, I'll definitely be a Trojan.”
Huntington Beach (Calif.) defensive end Liam Jimmons had no stipulations on keeping his commitment to USC.
"I'm sticking with SC,” said Jimmons. “I mean, why should I de-commit? Nothing has changed the way I feel about USC. It's still a great school on and off the field.”
Murrieta (Calif.) Mesa four-star offensive tackle Nathan Smith was headed out to dinner when he heard the news of Sarkisian’s leave of absence. His reaction was maybe the most common among USC fans.
"This is really the first I've heard about it, so wow,” said Smith. “I’ll have to call the coaches and talk things over with my parents before I could tell you my reaction. It's news to me.... so yeah."
Gardena (Calif.) four-star safety C.J. Pollard had a simple message he wanted shared Sunday.
"I'm wishing Sark a speedy recovery. He's a great dude and my prayers are with him," said Pollard, who still plans on enrolling at USC in December.