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November 16, 2012

West mailbag: Will UCLA flip USC commits?


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Battle for Los Angeles

Any chance some of USC's 17 four- and five-star recruits switch if UCLA knocks off USC this weekend?
-- @GavInOneForty via Twitter

The only player I could imagine flipping from USC to UCLA based on the result of this weekend's game is four-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes. And even in his case, you have to squint hard to see it.

Vanderdoes' name pops to mind only because he's already slated to take an official visit to UCLA on Nov. 24. He says the trip is simply a measure to create a safety net or backup option in case something were to happen to the USC staff.

I can't see him -- or anyone else, for that matter -- flipping based on result of one head-to-head contest. The question does, however, bring us to a larger, more intriguing possibility. USC dropping to 7-4 after being ranked No. 1 in the nation prior to the season would set off an alarm or two. It almost certainly won't be enough to land head coach Lane Kiffin on the unemployment line, but when you combine it with the minor ethical issues Kiffin has encountered in recent weeks, fan unrest will spread.

The quickest way to deal with unrest? Send an assistant coach or two packing. If that takes place, movement among the Trojan's No. 1-ranked recruiting class would likely.

In short; no, a UCLA win over USC won't send top-rated recruits marching across town. It could be the next step toward a much larger brand of chaos, though.

Vandy Man?

Is (four-star tight end) Mitchell Parsons now Vanderbilt's to lose?
-- Adam via email

It sure looks that way. When Parsons de-committed from Colorado last month, Washington was thought to be the leader to secure his net commitment. Then, a funny thing happened. Or, in this case, didn't happen.

The Huskies never offered.

In lieu of that, Parsons cancelled his Dec. 14 trip to Seattle. He's said on record that Vanderbilt and Ole Miss currently lead the pack, and I don't believe a late-arriving offer from California, which may be in the market for a coach this offseason, has potential to shake things up.

Visits to Ole Miss, Cal and Vandy are scheduled, but the draw of the SEC is coming into play. The way the tight end talks about the Commodores' coaching staff and the job it has done recruiting him, James Franklin's team appears to be the frontrunner.

Parsons' parents also seem to be pleased with the idea of their son attending Vanderbilt. That's always worth something.

Combing through the destinations

Marquel Combs will land where? Gut feeling?
-- Ryan via email

Is it a copout to say "a school based in Kansas?" Either way, that's my response.

Combs, a junior college defensive tackle, has talked at length about how much he respects the Jayhawks' coaching staff and admires the NFL experience it possesses. One of Combs' closest friends, linebacker Marcus Jenkins-Moore is already committed to Charlie Weis. Add in the fact that the Jayhawks can offer Combs a chance to play immediately, and it's not hard to convince yourself that KU has a serious chance here.

It seems like more of a stretch than it is. Combs is downright obsessed with the idea of playing immediately. And nothing says "early playing time" like a 1-9 record.

The case for the other Sunflower State school is much simpler. K-State is No. 1 in the BCS and has quite a reputation for turning junior college talent into Big 12 stars. Combs' only scheduled visit is to Manhattan, Kan., on Dec. 1. If the Wildcats polish off a perfect regular season with Combs in the stands, K-State coaches won't have to say much. The national title berth and ensuing atmosphere will sell itself.

I could be totally off base here, but you asked for a gut feeling. That's what this is. Combs says he will announce his choice on Dec. 18. He's a difficult player to read and creates mystery for the sake of mystery, so nothing that could happen on that day will leave me in total shock.



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