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USC Football

A Pair Of Takes: Thoughts On USC's First Official Visit Weekend

June 9, 2021

Josh An

Like many, I was very anxious as visits and campuses opened up across the country. For the first time in over a year, the nation’s best and brightest were going to be able to see and explore the top programs in the country. From a USC perspective, I was looking to hear and read about what USC’s approach would be, and the impact that the offseason hires would have on the program moving forward. For me, it’s safe to say that they are already making waves for recruits.

First, I want to touch on Jeff Martin, the Trojans’ director of scouting and player relations. At the time, Martin’s hire was important because he’s one of the few people on the staff currently with strong ties in the South. It would have been completely understandable if it took some time to make a mark, but listening to Shawn, Shazz Preston’s father, talk about their relationship was huge. It was pretty clear that without Martin, it may have been tough to even have Preston take a visit. I don’t know if Preston will end up at USC, but I do feel confident that Jeff Martin is going to be a key piece in USC expanding its recruiting efforts to the other side of the country.

With Martin making his impact of getting visitors on campus, Bryan Carrington has taken the reins on presenting the future of college football to the prospects and their families. While he is listed as an Offensive Quality Control Analyst officially, he should probably get to add “NIL Specialist” to his job title as well. He’s always been known as a forward-thinking recruiter, and it’s apparent that his presentation on the NIL era is resonating with the official visitors as well. USC is uniquely positioned to support its athletes moving forward, and also clearly has the knowledgable personnel to execute the proper strategies as well.

Marc Kulkin

USC's first Official Visit Weekend is in the books, and the reactions are starting to roll in from those who made their trips. Of course, when these types of trips happen, there's always a ton of excitement, and these young men, along with their families, get their "minds blown." Keep in mind though, the Trojans aren't the only program blowing things up this time of year; the country's youth who have been standing and waiting in lines for over a year is back in motion checking out college campuses. 

There's also a no holds barred free-for-all with the messaging being sent from staff's all over the country.

The early feedback suggests that the recruits and family members had a "mind-blowing experience" on their visit to Los Angeles and more importantly, USC’s campus. 

Let’s take CB Jaeden Gould's USC experience as one example.  Most anticipate the top prospect from New Jersey will stay close to home and play for either Penn St or Rutgers.  Which means if the Trojans want to compete with the distance factor, they would have to make a significant impression that no other university can touch.  And with the Name, Image, & Likeness[NIL] at the forefront for almost every major recruit standing in line, USC can use her location to her advantage.

In case you missed Scott Schrader's recap with Gould, you can read it for yourself; The main selling point and the message that USC is advertising is crystal clear; The Name, Image, and Likeness’s dollar value will be pushed just as hard as the USC degree that can be earned right along with it.

SS: What were some of the selling points that USC was trying to provide you guys?

Gould: The location and getting a degree from there means a lot. The people who graduated from there are looking out. Building a brand, there's no better place than Los Angeles; it's the place you want to be for NIL. If you do well on the field, you're going to be set up well.

SS: I'm assuming Bryan Carrington showed you the presentation for that.

Gould: Yeah, it was really “mind blown” by the information. He showed us different information. USC, compared to other schools in football when it comes to money and marketing, USC blows them away in terms of location and the people that graduated from there.

SS: What are some things that USC can do for you guys to help you with NIL?

Gould: The social media aspect, being in Los Angeles. The population there plays a big part in there, and where USC is located compared to some of the other schools, it helps a lot.

That was some east coast feedback.  

Was USC's messaging different for WR prospect Shazz Preston from St. James, Louisiana, or would his messaging be unique from the others? --The message was similar but was also focused.

Trojan’s Director of Scouting Jeff Martin is one of the newest members of USC's coaching staff, and he’s a Louisiana native.--Smart move; have someone from Louisiana which has a very different lifestyle than California be the lead for a young person who will be looking to feel comfortable before anything else can even be considered.

Location, location, location are the three most important things about real estate, and USC’s location which is second to none was put to good use by his lead recruiter, Jeff Martin.

SS: Was Jeff Martin, your point of contact did to go out and check out USC?

Preston: Yes, he was the key, and he is the reason why we came out, and we had a relationship with him at USC. His comment was that you guys need to come out and see this. He said, "From another Louisiana guy, he said you need to come and see this. Once I come and get you here, you will understand." I trusted his words, and we did so.

SS: So, what were your impressions after 48 hours, and have you been able to take in from this visit?

Preston: “It's mind-blowing to tell you the truth. You can feel the tradition as soon as you hit campus. I don't know too much about Coach Helton's past, the staff, but the crew that he has right now did a tremendous job making us feel comfortable.  Just down to earth, but very knowledgeable about the game in their own skin. That goes a long way. We weren't around a bunch of robots and people who were stiff and uptight. They allowed themselves to be themselves within their position, and it allowed us to be more comfortable to bring it all in. They did an awesome job, from the time they picked us up to the time they dropped us off.”

SS: Anything with the school, the NIL stuff that stood out?

Preston: Yes, that is something they are going to have an upper hand on a lot of schools just because of where the institution is located. They’re located in the mecca of the country when it comes to fame, spotlight. Coach BC(Bryan Carrington), man, he did an awesome presentation about it. BC, and one other coach, that's what they do. They put together an awesome presentation about how USC is going to be on the cunning edge of the NIL waters. Coach BC lives it because he has a wife that is a very famous YouTuber. He was able to show real life, “that’s my wife.” They did an awesome job with that.

While I love the recruiting game and anticipating the next group of Trojans joining the family, as we advance, I'm not sure I'm as passionate about it as I was last year, or a few years ago.  

The college game is changing and it’s becoming more individual-oriented and less about team building.  Branding and making money is now part of the recruiting game, but hopefully the larger message of helping USC win football games doesn’t get lost in the message.

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