As the college football recruiting circuit heated up, the Trojans were the interests of potential top recruits this past weekend, with five-star defensive end Rashan Gary, four-star athlete Trevon Sidney and three-star defensive end Connor Murphy stopping by.Among these four big recruits, Rashan Gary is the most impressive for the Trojans considering his 6-foot-5, 293-pound frame and impressive motor. As it stands, the defensive tackle is being recruited by every top school in the nation, but has only officially visited Michigan, Ole Miss, Auburn and, most recently, USC.“Gary took an official visit to USC from Thursday to Sunday along with his mother, Jennifer Coney, for what was the fourth of Gary’s five permitted official visits,” ESPN insider Tom VanHaaren said in an ESPN.com blog post. “According to Coney, the visit may have put USC — widely believed to be a long shot -— very much in the picture for the No. 1-ranked prospect.”As for the other prospects who visited this past weekend, defensive end Murphy could become a Trojan this fall.Murphy cited his visit this past weekend as a nine out of 10 due to USC’s diverse and intellectual campus. Potential USC recruit of the same surname, four-star recruit Byron Murphy, is still expected to visit USC at a later date.Other recruits interested in being Trojans include four-star tight end and defensive end Devin Asiasi, five-star defensive end Jonathan Kongbo and three-star athlete Evan Hinson.USC has already established 14 total commitments from 11 four-star and three three-star recruits, with only six more scholarships to give considering the five redshirt freshmen returning to the team in 2016.After a disappointing Holiday Bowl loss at the hands of the Wisconsin Badgers, USC is looking forward to the future in their 2016 recruiting class as well as their returners.What the Trojans are not looking forward to are the losses of several starters and 20 overall players due to expiring NCAA eligibility and the upcoming NFL Draft.On defense, USC’s defensive line is a virtual ghost town due to the departures of starters Antwaun Woods, Delvon Simmons and Greg Townsend Jr., along with reserves Claude Pelon and Cody Temple who combined for 173 of USC’s 1,052 total tackles.Replacing them will be one of USC’s most talented defensive lines in the Pat Haden era with returning freshmen Rasheem Green, Noah Jefferson, Jacob Daniel, Kevin Scott, Christian Rector, fifth-year senior Jordan Simmons, fourth-year junior Kenny Bigelow Jr. and third-year sophomore Malik Dorton.Along with a potential signee in defensive tackle Rashan Gary, Liam Jimmons from Huntington Beach, Oluwole Betiku from Gardena Serra and Keyshon Camp from Lake Gibson Senior in Lakeland, Florida, all verbally committed to USC this year.USC has three-star OLB Jordan Iosefa and four-star cornerback C.J. Pollard to assure USC’s secondary, which will be losing inside linebacker Anthony Sarao and cornerbacks Keyvon Seymour and Ryan Dillard.On the offensive side of the ball, running back Tre Madden, tight end Cyrus Hobbi, fullbacks Soma Vainuku and Jahleel Pinner and wideouts George Katrib and David Mellstrom are not returning in 2016.Besides Madden and Pinner, none of the other offensive losses should hurt USC considering JuJu Smith-Schuster, Ronald Jones II, Justin Davis, Steven Mitchell Jr., Adoree’ Jackson, Darreus Rogers, Jalen Greene, Justin Davis and Tyler Petite are all returning.The team will, however, be losing three big players on the line of scrimmage with quarterback Cody Kessler, center Max Tuerk and offensive guard Erick Jepsen all leaving.The Trojans should not be concerned with the offensive line, though, with a majority of their 2015 starters coming back in 2016, including center Khaliel Rodgers.As for the quarterback situation, redshirt junior Max Browne is considered the most-likely starter amid a multitude of passers such as redshirt senior Conner Sullivan, sophomores Sam Darnold and Michael Bowman and four-star recruit Matt Fink.Although Browne has the height and experience to lead this Trojan football team, dual-threat Sam Darnold could shake up the competition with his running and throwing capabilities.“There will be a position battle in spring between Max Browne and Sam Darnold that should be a lot of fun to watch,” ESPN and WeAreSC.com writer Garry Paskwietz said in an ESPN.com interview. “The one twist is that there will be a new offensive coordinator in Tee Martin which means Browne and Darnold are both starting from the same beginning point in that system.”If Darnold gets the starting job as a dual-threat, he could pave the way for 2016 commit Matt Fink, who also thrives with his legs.And while Darnold threw for 2,985 yards and 39 touchdowns and rushed for 785 yards and 13 touchdowns in his final high school season, Fink showed during his senior season with Glendora that he could also drive the ball with his legs and his arm, amassing 1,258 yards and 15 touchdowns through the air and 1,106 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground.Regardless of who is under center for the Trojans come fall, USC is going to have some exciting young players catching passes, including four four-star wide receivers: Tyler Vaughns, Josh Imatorbhebhe, Michael Pittman and Velus Jones.Out of the four wideouts, Pittman had the best senior season in high school statistically, catching 81 passes for 1,990 yards and 24 touchdowns. Vaughns, however, could outduel Pittman for a potential starting role considering his soft hands and unbelievable catching abilities while airborne.With spring practices in full swing and the official spring game just months away, head coach Clay Helton and the rest of his new coaching regime have a lot of work on their hands, but they won’t be without some talented freshmen come Sept. 3 in Arlington.
DES MOINES — The effectiveness of 18-year incumbent Steve King has been the central debate of the GOP Primary in Iowa’s fourth congressional district. During this week’s TV forum featuring King and three Republican competitors, King again blamed establishment Republicans for his status as a congressman without any committee assignments.“It’s not on me,” King said “…This is on the people that made those decisions. And people need to realize: what is it about? Being misquoted in The New York Times?”House GOP leaders removed King from House committees last year after King’s published comments about white nationalism and white supremacy. King accuses fellow Republicans who now oppose his bid for a 10th term of being scared of facing criticism.“There’s powers that be…that want Steve King out of the way because they don’t like to do have to do battle on life and on marriage and on budgets and on guns and…on the border,” King said. “They don’t like that. The ‘Never Trumpers’ are the people who ginned this all up.”Jeremy Taylor of Sioux City, one of the four Republicans running against King in the Primary, said there is no assurance King will regain any committee assignments if he’s reelected.“To be able to stand for life, we’ve got to be able sit on the Judiciary Committee. If we’re going to fight for the RFS, we’d got to be able to sit on the Ag Committee,” Taylor said. “…Right now we don’t have a congressman that has those committee assignments in hand.”Randy Feenstra, a state senator from Hull, has also focused on King’s lack of committee clout.“I’m running for congress because the 4th district — we need a seat at the table,” Feenstra said.Bret Richards, the former mayor of Irwin, said he’s running against King because 18 years in Washington is too long.“We need citizen legislators that go and serve and come back home,” said Richards. “That’s why term limits is so important to me.”The candidates made their comments during the hour-long forum that aired on WHO in Des Moines on Wednesday afternoon and KCAU in Sioux City on Tuesday afternoon. Steve Reeder of Arnold’s Park, the other candidate in the race, had a negative balance in his campaign account and did not meet the qualifications for participating in the TV forum.