Story by Brandon Huffman 247Sports
The dead period is over; the quiet period has started. For the next six weeks, players can visit college campuses, and a lot of West Coast prospects are going to national programs. Several are heading to Texas and Texas A&M, for instance.
With two major events in Southern California this weekend, both UCLA and USC will be hosting a number of recruits. Oregon is also welcoming a big weekend with players from the state of Washington, while Cal will be hosting its Junior Day.
*** Let’s start with the Bears.
With all of the coaching changes during the offseason, this is a chance to get players on campus and in front of the new and old faces.
Their running back commitment in the class of 2025, four-star prospect Jojo Salis from San Bernardino, will be there. So will their 2024 tight end commitment, three-star recruit Camden Jones.
The Bears will also host a few players who are committed to other schools. Three-star quarterback Hauss Hejny, who’s from Texas and is pledged to Duke, will be there.
Same with three-star safety Kingston Lopa from Sacramento, who is committed to Arizona but playing at Grant High School for former Cal cornerback Syd’Quan Thompson. The Bears are trying like crazy to land him.
Two of the best players in the Bay Area this year play at Fremont High School in Oakland. One is four-star linebacker Naki Tuakoi, who has dozens of scholarship offers, including Notre Dame and Oklahoma, but the Bears would obviously like to keep him home.
They have offered a scholarship to his teammate, three-star prospect Sefo Akuila, who plays quarterback for Fremont but is being recruited as a linebacker.
Mardale Rowe, a three-star edge rusher out of Phoenix, is also expected to be in Berkeley this weekend.
*** Oregon has a handful of visitors coming in. It’s not a huge weekend for the Ducks — they will have one of those in April at their spring game. But a number of players from the Pacific Northwest are coming to campus.
Three of them already have offers from Oregon, and two are in the class of 2024: Tacoma three-star running back Unterrio Latin-Henley and three-star offensive lineman Marquise Thorpe-Taylor.
The Ducks are making a big push for both.
*** USC’s group this weekend includes the No. 1 player in Oklahoma, four-star defensive lineman Xadavien Sims, who’s a top-10 player nationally at his position. And they have a four-star safety from Texas scheduled to visit, Kenyan Kelly.
The No. 2 tailback in the country will be on USC’s campus this weekend, as well, but he’s not from Texas or Oklahoma: Jason Brown attends O’Dea High School in Seattle and has offers from Alabama and Georgia, among others.
*** UCLA’s group includes three-star Seattle receiver Malachi Durant, who has a unique tie to UCLA. His grandfather, Mark Haley, was the longtime coach at Rainier Beach high in Seattle. Shortly after he was let go by Washington, Rick Neuheisel joined the Rainier Beach staff under Haley as a volunteer assistant.
Rick’s son, Jerry, is the receivers coach for the Bruins and is the one recruiting Durant. And Durant’s father, Lavelle, is a quarterback trainer and has been working with Dorian Thompson-Robinson since he was a junior in high school.
*** Two elite recruits will visit both the Bruins and Trojans this week.
One is four-star receiver Gatlin Bair, the No. 1 prospect in Idaho and an All-American Bowl selection.
The other is four-star, 300-pound defensive lineman Jericho Johnson, from Fairfield, California.
*** One last thought on the recruiting calendar.
Why is this period important? I don’t anticipate another global pandemic, but in 2020, for the first time, the NCAA created a dead period from the Monday before the February letter-of-intent day until the end of the month.
That allowed coaches to recalibrate and recuperate. The fallout was that with the month being a dead period and then there only being a part of March before everything shut down, the schools didn’t get recruits on campus.
There was talk about going away from that dead period, but it hasn’t happened. As a result, a lot of schools are ramping it up this weekend after having everything turned off.
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