On a beautiful day at Blossom Field in San Antonio (Texas), USC wide receiver commits pitted themselves against a familiar foe in practice.
Michael Pittman, Trevon Sidney and Tyler Vaughns have played against Jack Jones many times in the offseason, but Monday, it was an all-star battle in pads.
Pittman came into this week’s Army All-American Bowl practices with the hottest stock as a player. With a fifth star a possibility in his future, Pittman compiled 81 receptions for 1990 yards and two dozen touchdowns his senior season for Oaks Christian.
“He had a great year this year,” said Jones. “He’s a big guy and he uses his size well.
“He told me he has only played receiver for a year, so that’s pretty amazing. With the things that he has done, that’s amazing. When he gets to know all the little techniques and everything as a receiver, he’s going to be monster.
“I can’t see anyone stopping him.”
Pittman would leave practice early with an apparent hand injury. The extent of that injury is unknown at this time. Pittman and Vaughns both saw extensive work at inside and outside wide receiver spots in the West squad’s spread packages.
Pittman is a solid commit to USC who will enroll as a Trojan this month. Vaughns, who had 84 receptions for 1,330 yards and 13 touchdowns of his own for La Puente (Calif.) Bishop Amat, is still eyeing an official visit to Alabama for Jan. 22.
“Yeah, I have my official visit to USC for the 15th,” said Vaughns. “I have Alabama still, and [Lane] Kiffin is the one recruiting me for them. I was going to take a trip to Georgia, but I haven’t talked to any of the new coaches yet.”
Vaughns played all over the field Monday, although he didn’t have to make any of his patented leaping grabs.
“That’s another monster,” said Jones. “He’s not the fastest guy, but the man has hands. He can catch anything in his area and that’s why I respect him.”
And at a national event, it’s all about respect. Jones often plays both sides of the ball, but this week in San Antonio he will focus on playing cornerback.
“I was trying to play both sides, but from what it’s looking like right now, I don’t think I’m playing both sides,” said Jones. “Right now, I’m focused on playing corner, but I don’t want to cancel out [playing receiver] because it might happen.”
Of course, despite being a consensus top performer Monday for the West squad as a defensive back, he graded himself as a cornerback as “horrible.”
While he had a great interception Monday, he also dropped three picks.
“And that’s why,” said Jones. “Interceptions don’t come all of the time, so you have to make the most of them when they do come. Possibly a pick six, which is what I have in my head.”
Jones will not officially visit USC, but said Monday that he will likely unofficially visit the Trojans when they hire a defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach.
“I’m a cornerback, slash receiver, so I would say I’d like to see a coach who plays man-to-man,” said Jones. “That’s what people want to see, right? That’s what makes the game exciting. People want to see man-to-man and the best corner going against the best receiver.
“Let me be on an island and let me work. Other than that, I feel like USC knows what direction to go in and they’ll pick the right coach for whatever works for them.”
Jones has Alabama, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC as schools under consideration. He will make his commitment known on signing day with a video announcement that will be shot later this month.
Asiasi all alone
Concord (Calif.) De La Salle four-star tight end Devin Asiasi has never seen so many passes thrown his way as he did Monday. Asiasi is the only tight end on the West squad, so he made the most of his practice time.
“I love getting the reps and getting the routes down, so it’s good for me,” said Asiasi. “Right now it’s different for me. I didn’t play that much of a receiving tight end, so coming out here and getting a lot of catches… I’m slowly getting used to it.”
Asiasi will officially visit USC on Jan. 30, and is encouraging his friend and teammate Boss Tagaloa to do the same. While the two would like to go to the same college, it will not be a deal breaker in either player’s recruitment.
“It would be really good for us to play together, but we’re not going to go out of our way to make it happen,” said Asiasi. “We’re just trying to focus on ourselves and what best fits us.”
Asiasi said Monday he weighed in at 6-foot-4, 269-pounds. At The Opening Regional Camp last spring in Oakland, Asiasi came in a 275-pounds. His goal was to get down to 255-pounds during the season.
“Yeah… it didn’t happen,” laughed Asiasi. “I’d like to get down to 260, 265-pounds. I don’t think I should be focusing on getting my weight down.
“I focused on getting stronger and hopefully I’ll get down to 265.”
USC has a commitment from Exton (Pa.) four-star tight end Cary Angeline, but Asiasi has no issues being a part of a two-tight end class.
“If I go there, and have another person to be there that can share the experience of coming through that whole process at USC, I would make things a lot easier.”
Assisi will make his commitment on National Signing Day.
News and notes from practice:
- Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy five-star Shea Patterson was the best quarterback for the West team Monday. The West squad has two highly touted quarterbacks in Patterson and Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic four-star K.J. Costello, but Costello, a Stanford commit, overthrew some of his deep passes. Patterson showed touch and great mobility moving outside the pocket. Costello left practice early with what appeared to be a minor injury.
USC committed wide outs Tyler Vaughns and Michael Pittman had at least two dozen receptions between them Monday. Both players lined up in the slot and at split end. Pittman appeared to hurt his hand in the afternoon practice but the severity of that injury is unknown.
The West receivers started off practice strong, catching everything the quarterbacks threw at them. However, the morning session ended with several drops. The afternoon session saw better results led by Navasota (Texas) wide out Tren'Davian Dickson, Salt Lake City (Utah) Brighton wide out Simi Fehoko, Tyler Vaughns and Michael Ptitman.
USC offensive lineman commit Frank Martin of Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei lined up at right tackle Monday.
Not to give away any schematic details of the West practice, but tight end Devin Asiasi not only caught passes from the quarterbacks but Tyler Vaughns as well.
Long Beach (Calif.) Poly five-star athlete Jack Jones played cornerback exclusively Monday. Jones had one interception, but also dropped three others. Despite those drops, he was one of the top performers for the West team Monday.
Jones rotated in at cornerback with Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro four-star athlete Byron Murphy. Although Murphy will officially visit USC Jan. 15, he admitted Monday that the Trojans are running third behind Arizona State and Texas A&M for his commitment.
Murphy said Monday that he will announce a commitment Jan. 18, which is his birthday. Murphy also had an interception Monday.
Houston (Texas) Westside four-star defensive tackle Jordan Elliott camped at USC over the summer. Elliott was another top performer for the West Monday, but said that he is no longer considering the Trojans as an option.
Torrance (Calif.) North five-star linebacker Mique Juarez officially dropped USC from consideration Monday. Juarez, once committed to the Trojans, played MIKE linebacker in the first practice for the West All-Americans.