It didn't take long for Sarkisian to make his mark on the recruiting trail, as the Trojans did much better than expected on national signing day under their new coach. The Trojans signed two of the country's most explosive athletes -- No. 3 cornerback Adoree' Jackson and No. 3 athlete Juju Smith -- who are fast enough to play on both sides of the ball. Sarkisian and his staff did a good job of addressing USC's lack of depth on the offensive line, signing three top-10-rated guards: Damien Mama (No. 4), Viane Talamaivao (No. 5) and Toa Lobendahn (No. 8). Sarkisian plans to install a wide-open, no-huddle offense when USC begins spring practice, and Cody Kessler, Max Browne and incoming freshman Jalen Greene are expected to compete for the starting job. Former USC quarterback Max Wittek is transferring and is reportedly eyeing Texas, Hawaii and Louisville as possible destinations. Sarkisian completed his USC coaching staff by hiring former Georgia defensive line coach Chris Wilson.
Iowa's recruiting efforts look a lot like its on-field product: nothing flashy but yet surprisingly productive. The Hawkeyes' class was ranked No. 49 in the country, and only one of their 19 signees -- No. 35 athlete Jay Scheel -- was included in the ESPN 300. Four-star quarterback Tyler Wiegers of Beverly Hills, Mich., who also considered Central Michigan, Rutgers and Toledo, might be the Hawkeyes' starter down the line. For now, returning starter Jake Rudock and backup C.J. Beathard will continue to battle for the starting job, although coach Kirk Ferentz indicated Rudock has a pretty firm grip on the job after throwing for 2,383 yards with 18 touchdowns last season. Starting in spring practice, Ferentz is going to have to replace three very productive linebackers and two starting defensive backs from a unit that ranked in the top 10 in scoring defense, allowing only 18.9 points per game.
After losing record-setting quarterback Tajh Boyd and top receivers Sammy Watkins and Martavis Bryant, the Tigers reloaded their explosive spread offense through recruiting with the No. 12-ranked class. Quarterback Deshaun Watson of Gainesville, Ga., the No. 1-ranked dual-threat quarterback and No. 16 prospect overall, has already enrolled in classes at Clemson and will compete with senior Cole Stoudt and sophomore Chad Kelly for the starting job in spring practice. Coach Dabo Swinney also signed three of the country's top-25-ranked receivers: Artavis Scott of Tarpon Springs, Fla. (No. 9), Trevion Thompson of Durham, N.C. (No. 20) and Demarre Kitt of Tyrone, Ga. (No. 22). Milan Richard of Savannah, Ga., the nephew of 1982 Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, was the No. 2 tight end nationally. Swinney was able to keep highly regarded offensive coordinator Chad Morris for at least one more season, after his name was prominently mentioned in a couple of head-coach searches.