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December 2, 2011

Meyer, Kiffin will resume recruiting wars

MORE GORNEY: Weekend wrap
MORE USC: USCFootball.com
MORE OSU: BuckeyeGrove.com

A report surfaced Thursday that USC coach Lane Kiffin text messaged Urban Meyer congratulating him on his new job at Ohio State and Kiffin joked to Steve Greenberg from Sporting News that he was "growing up."

One of the strangest story lines in recent memory was the Kiffin-Meyer feuds when the former was a firebrand at Tennessee and Meyer was the established, two-time national champion at Florida.

It was one of many less than desirable moments during Kiffin's short-lived tenure at Tennessee and he has certainly revamped his image and style once he took over the Trojans.

Don't expect Meyer and Kiffin to become fast friends anytime soon and even though they're not coaching in the same conference anymore there will still be some interesting recruiting battles along the way.

It should be fun to watch.

USC has wasted no time welcoming Meyer back to college football - and the ultra-competitive recruiting world - by recently offering Ohio State commit Bri'onte Dunn, a four-star running back from Canton (Ohio) Glenoak.

Sources say Dunn might be willing to listen to the Trojans and he's planning to visit USC as well. Michigan and Ohio State will also get visits as Dunn feels out Meyer and how the program will be run.

USC along with many other top programs also offered four-star defensive end Adolphus Washington, who moved to No. 36 in the 2012 class by Rivals.com, but the Cincinnati (Ohio) Taft standout isn't expected to switch his pledge. If anything is solid to the Buckeyes, it's Washington.

A source said there probably aren't many other players in Ohio State's class that USC would even expend energy on at this point. With Meyer in place, though, more four- and five-star prospects might be in play before National Signing Day.

The timing was probably just coincidental but USC was in Western and Central Pennsylvania in recent days recruiting Erie McDowell four-star running back Greg Garmon and five-star defensive end Noah Spence out of Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt. Rated ninth in the class, Spence is a top target for teams across the board.

The Trojans had success in Ohio last recruiting cycle landing four-star offensive lineman Aundrey Walker from Cleveland Glenville but it's probably unlikely USC and Ohio State will butt heads many times on the recruiting trail.

Meyer's recruiting philosophy when it came to California players as Florida's coach was he'd go in, pick and choose and certainly not recruit the whole state.

His assistants were crucial in landing five-star defensive end Ronald Powell, four-star cornerback Joshua Shaw and others. Meyer was very selective on which California players he targeted while coaching the Gators. Some believed he saw it as a waste of time to be so busy in California when so many prospects were in his backyard.

Locking up the state of Ohio and Midwest talent will be crucial for Meyer to be successful with the Buckeyes. Going to Florida will probably be more likely than selectively recruiting top prospects out of California.

But the reverse might not be as true. USC is affording some effort with Spence, Garmon and Dunn so far. The Trojans swiped Walker away from Big Ten schools last recruiting cycle. The Trojans have always liked to be national players in recruiting. Earlier this week they landed 2013 standout Kenny Bigelow from Delaware.

Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy wide receiver Michael Thomas, originally from Woodland Hills (Calif.) Taft, said he's been hearing more from USC recently but he's sticking with his commitment to Ohio State.

"I'm pretty much solid right now," Thomas said. "Everything is lined up for me at Ohio State. Now all I have to do is stay focused, keep working hard and keep perfecting my craft. Hard work really pays off and I'm loving the results. Nothing is going to be given to me. I am just earning it."

The recruiting battles between Kiffin and Meyer will not nearly be as common as when they coached in the SEC, but USC and Ohio State will both recruit Florida's top prospects. There will be regional battles between the national powers.

The fireworks of years past between the two might be finished - and some are thankful for that - but coaching at two of the nation's most-prestigious programs means they'll run into each other while recruiting the nation's best players.

Or they could soon meet in the Rose Bowl - or possibly national championship - which would be entertaining, too.

Star gazing

Five-star offensive tackle Andrus Peat from Tempe (Ariz.) Corona Del Sol said he wants to visit Florida State in December - preferably when the Seminoles are preparing for their bowl game - and then he'll take another trip to USC in January.

Peat, rated No. 14 in the 2012 class by Rivals.com, has already visited Nebraska and Stanford. There are still others involved in his recruitment but the 6-foot-7, 305-pound prospect doesn't have any other plans at this point to take other trips.

Aziz Shittu, a five-star defensive lineman from Atwater (Calif.) Buhach, said he has a top five of California, USC, Stanford, Washington and UCLA but that there is no leader and he doesn't have any other visits set up yet.

Shittu has already visited Texas A&M but sources have said the 6-foot-3, 275-pound recruit is probably leaning toward staying in the Pac-12 with the Northern California schools holding a slight edge. The Atwater Buhach standout had already been committed to Stanford and the Cardinal are definitely still in the picture.

Four-star standout D.J. Foster, who rushed for 3,058 yards and 54 touchdowns, had narrowed his list to Oregon and Arizona State but the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro prospect is back to being wide open.

Apparently, Foster eliminated Oregon recently and then wants to hold off on the Sun Devils until a new coach is in place. One source said Foster might have committed to Arizona State regardless of the coaching situation - this was when Dennis Erickson still had a job - but Foster decided to open up and wait things out.

Could USC be sneaking in here? Foster is expected to visit with the Trojans in January, the same weekend Peat will be on campus.



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