USC coach Steve Sarkisian said he reached out to former coach Ed Orgeron again this week as the Trojans’ search for yet another defensive line coach.
Orgeron rebuffed Sarkisian last month and sources said Wednesday he again was not interested in returning to the USC coaching staff. The Trojans need a defensive line after Bo Davis quit seven days into the job to take a similar position with Alabama.
Sarkisian called Davis’ departure a “minor hiccup.” Asked if Orgeron changed his mind this week after dismissing efforts to hire him back at USC, Sarkisian said, “You would have to ask him. Ed and I did talk. We had a couple nice conversations.”
The defensive line position has become a sore spot on the coaching staff since Sarkisian got hired. Controversial Washington defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi was banned from being hired after becoming the center of an NCAA investigation in December.
Orgeron, who left USC in a fury after Sarkisian was hired, was not interested when contacted after the Las Vegas Bowl. Georgia assistant coach Chris Wilson also turned down the job before Sarkisian hired former Texas assistant Davis.
But Davis, who worked with Alabama coach Nick Saban from 2007-10, left USC on Monday to reunite with his mentor. For most of the rest of the staff, being at USC is a big move as Sarkisian hired five former Washington assistants.
“This is the pinnacle,” linebackers coach Peter Sirmon said. “There’s an immediate challenge to do well.”
New defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said the Trojans’ defense will have some similarities to last season. Wilcox runs a hybrid between the 4-3 and 3-4 formations while last year USC lined up in a 5-2 formation.
Sarkisian and his staff start hosting recruits this weekend and one issue right now is whether he will take players that committed under Lane Kiffin and Orgeron.
“Every kid that was committed to USC when I was hired, we’re honoring that commitment,” Sarkisian said. “(But) we also made it clear (to some recruits) that (they) might not fit what we’re doing.”
USC has backed off several recruits in the past six weeks, including St. John Bosco of Bellflower wide receiver Shay Fields and defensive end Malik Dorton, along with Corona Centennial defensive end Austin Malaota.
The Trojans host several standout prospects this weekend, including Long Beach Poly safety John Smith, St. John Bosco offensive lineman Damien Mama and wide receiver-defensive back Michiah Quick of Fresno.
Sarkisian got some good news this week when tailback Javorius Allen and cornerback Josh Shaw bypassed a chance to enter the NFL draft. Both attended a team meeting Monday. Also attending was quarterback Max Wittek, who said after the season he was undecided if he would transfer.
Linebacker Hayes Pullard announced Monday he would also return.
“That’s huge,” Wilcox said. “He’s our biggest recruit.”
Former USC offensive lineman Lenny Vandermade and linebacker Ross Cumming will be graduate-assistant coaches this season. Vandermade was at USC for several years but spent last season at Loyola High School in Los Angeles. Cumming was USC’s interim defensive line coach for the Las Vegas Bowl.
Defensive tackle Claude Pelon was scheduled to start school Monday but delayed because of an academic issue at his previous college, Mesa Community College in Arizona. Sarkisian said he hopes Pelon will start school by the end of the week.
USC starts spring practice March 11. The annual spring game will be April 19 at the Coliseum. Practices will be open to the public, Sarkisian said.
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