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RECRUITING / JEFF FELLENZER : USC Makes a Pitch to Sign a Plum of a Lineman From Apple Valley

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A funny thing happened to Chris Brymer on his way from Apple Valley to Seattle. He met John Robinson.

The 6-foot-2, 280-pound Brymer is considered one of Southern California’s best line prospects. He could end up playing guard or nose tackle in college.

Before last weekend, Brymer was expected to sign with Washington on Wednesday, the first day that high school seniors can sign college letters of intent. He had taken a trip to Seattle on Jan. 16-17 and gave the Husky coaching staff an unwritten commitment.

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But Brymer had yet to take his trip to USC. Besides Washington, he had been to Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado.

“I really liked it a lot,” said Brymer of his campus visit Friday and Saturday to USC. “Coach Robinson is a legend. I thought he would be real cocky, but he’s a normal, everyday guy. The area is a little shaky, but everything else was great. And (offensive line coach) Mike Barry is a great guy. I’m leaning there now.”

Brymer, who scored a 19 on his American College Test and should be eligible to play in the fall as a freshman, is expected to announce his choice any time from among USC, Washington and Arizona State.

Notes

Besides Pasadena Muir running back Saladin McCullough (5-10, 170), the Trojans have received unwritten commitments from quarterback Edward Hervey (6-3, 185) of Pasadena City College, wide receiver Ken Grace (5-10, 170) of Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Calif., tackle Phalen Pounds (6-7, 310) and outside linebacker Treyvonne Towns (6-4, 215) of Pasadena High, wide receiver Anthony Volsan (5-9, 160) of Merced, running back LaVale Woods (5-7, 195) of Mesa, Ariz., and linebacker/fullback Taso Papadakis (6-1, 235) of Palos Verdes Peninsula. Hervey, from Compton High, was recruited as a wide receiver. Grace was an all-state community college selection. Pounds, Towns and Volsan need to pass their college entrance tests, a fact that has kept some schools away. Woods has been compared in size and style to former USC and Pasadena Muir running back Ricky Ervins. Papadakis’ father, John, lettered as a reserve linebacker at USC in 1970-71. Another relative of an ex-Trojan player, Riverside Rubidoux free safety Sammy Knight (6-1, 185), the brother of former USC running back Ryan Knight, is scheduled to visit USC this weekend. Knight, who intercepted 11 passes last season, is also considering UCLA and Arizona State. The Trojans are still hopeful of persuading safety Denard Walker (6-2, 190) of Garland, Tex., to keep his commitment. Walker signed with USC last year but was denied admittance when he failed to qualify academically. After passing his entrance exam, he reaffirmed his intention to attend USC. But when former Coach Larry Smith resigned and John Robinson was hired, Walker decided to enroll at Louisiana State.

UCLA filled a need at inside linebacker and continued to recruit well in Orange County when it received an unwritten commitment from Brian Willmer (6-3, 220) of Fullerton Sunny Hills. Willmer, who was credited with 175 tackles last season and also caught 23 passes as a tight end, received eight of a possible 10 votes to earn a place on the Long Beach Press-Telegram’s annual “Best in the West” poll of West Coast college football coaches. A total of 37 players earned the necessary six or more votes to make the team. Willmer chose UCLA over Notre Dame, Cal and USC. He joins defensive tackle Travis Kirschke (6-4 1/2, 250) of Anaheim Esperanza and offensive lineman Sean Gully (6-5, 245) of Irvine as future Bruins from Orange County. UCLA has also received commitments from linebackers Weldon Forde (6-2, 210) of Redlands and Tyrone Pierce (6-3, 220) of Sylmar; cornerback Richie Martin (5-11, 180) of San Bernardino San Gorgonio; tackle Chad Sauter (6-6, 275) of South Torrance; tight end Josh Eby (6-5, 235) of San Diego Mt. Carmel; defensive lineman Darren Cline (6-4, 240) of Davis, Calif., and kicker Jason Lesley (5-7, 150) of Palacios, Tex. According to Dick Lascola of the Fallbrook, Calif.-based Scouting Evaluation Assn., Martin “was one of the fastest players I saw on film this year.” Forde, a good athlete who caught the attention of recruiters late, competes in the hurdles, shotput and discus for the track team. He also visited Arizona and Oregon. Pierce picked the Bruins over Cal, and also considered Washington, Oregon and USC. Sauter turned down Washington and Arizona State, among others. Cline’s father, Tony, was a defensive end for the Raiders (1970-75), and his brother Tony is a tight end at Stanford. Lesley comes highly recommended from kicking guru Ben Agajanian, who said Lesley had the most potential of any kicker he had tutored since former UCLA All-American John Lee. Among those still on the Bruins’ “wish” list are wide receiver Cikai Champion (5-11, 170) of Tyler, Tex., who is also considering Notre Dame (Lou Holtz was in his home Thursday) and Texas; outside linebacker Darnell Smith (6-4, 225) of Mequon, Wis.; standout defensive back Tony Blevins (6-1, 170) of Kansas City, who is also considering Kansas and Stanford; Del Mar Torrey Pines outside linebacker Brian Batson (6-3, 205), and Pasadena Muir cornerbacks Andy Colbert (5-9, 165) and Maurice Simpson (5-9, 180). Smith is trying to decide between UCLA and Notre Dame. Batson, whose brother Tyler finished his senior season as a defensive lineman at Stanford last fall, is considering the Cardinal, UCLA, Colorado and Washington. Stanford Coach Bill Walsh spoke at Batson’s football banquet Monday night. Colbert, who played quarterback last season in a star-studded backfield with McCullough and fullback Charles Myles (who has committed to Arizona), is also considering Washington State, Brigham Young, Kansas, Nevada Las Vegas and Iowa State. Besides UCLA, Simpson is being recruited by Washington, Cal, Washington State, San Jose State and UNLV.

More Pac-10 news: Stanford has received a commitment from another highly recruited running back, Eliel Swinton (5-10, 185) of Van Nuys Montclair Prep. Swinton, who rushed for 2,380 yards last season, second-best in California behind Jeff Byrd of Garden Grove Rancho Alamitos (2,576), chose Stanford over Notre Dame. He also took trips to UCLA and Oregon. Stanford also picked up some much-needed speed at wide receiver with commitments from standout prospects Leroy Pruitt (5-9, 170) of Blue Springs, Mo., and Brian Manning (5-11, 170) of Kansas City. Other recent Stanford commitments include inside linebacker Evan Wagner (6-0, 230) of Knob Noster, Mo., near Kansas City; defensive lineman Matt Harper (6-6, 215) of McKinney, Tex.; tight end Tommy Hanson (6-5, 220) of Benicia, Calif.; community college wide receiver Mark Harris (6-5, 190) of Ricks College in Rexburg, Ida., and linebacker Nick Watts (6-2, 205) of Mountain View St. Francis.

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Cal’s already impressive recruiting class got a gem this week when outside linebacker-defensive end Regan Upshaw (6-4, 220) of Pittsburg, near Berkeley, made a commitment to the Bears. Upshaw, who reportedly committed to Washington on a trip two weeks ago before changing his mind, is considered an outstanding pass rusher. He had 19 sacks the past two seasons. Among Cal’s unofficial list of 20 commitments are four community college recruits: defensive lineman Greg Webb (6-4, 255) of Saddleback College, brother of former USC defensive tackle David Webb; wide receiver Latario Rachal (5-10, 170) of El Camino College, a former Carson High standout, and defensive backs Rich Richardson (5-11, 185) and Darrell Myles (6-1, 205) of Laney College in Oakland. Notable high school players who committed to Cal include safety Marlin McWilson (6-1, 200) of San Diego High, guard Tarik Glenn (6-3, 280) of Oakland Bishop O’Dowd, running back Khalid Shabazz (5-8, 175) of Oakland Skyline, offensive lineman Ryan Rossetti (6-5, 260) of Modesto, defensive back Jihad Akbar (5-11, 178) of Berkeley and defensive lineman Chris Easley (6-4, 230) of Dos Palos, Calif.

Washington has received a commitment from the state’s best quarterback prospect, Shane Fortney (6-3, 205) of Everett. Other recent Husky commitments include defensive tackle Jason Chorak (6-4, 245) of Vashon Island, Wash., linebacker Jerry Jensen (6-1, 215) of Everett, running back Jovan McCoy (5-10, 180) and defensive back Kyle Roberts (5-11, 185) of Seattle O’Dea, and cornerbacks Tony Parrish (5-11, 170) of Huntington Beach Marina and Terry Hollimon (5-9, 165) of Everett.

Oregon has received commitments from two of the best players on the West Coast: running back Woody Green III (5-11, 180), the son of the former NFL and Arizona State running back, and wide receiver Jamaal Wallace (5-9, 165) of Eugene. Wallace, who caught 74 passes for 837 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushed for 1,127 yards last season, turned down Washington to sign with the hometown Ducks. Oregon also got a commitment from tight end Blake Spence (6-5, 215) of Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley.

Blue chips: Crenshaw wide receiver-cornerback Eric Scott (5-11, 175) has committed to Northwestern over UCLA. Scott, who has a 3.8 grade-point average and hopes to become a doctor, also visited Arizona State, Oklahoma and Hawaii. . . . Long Beach Poly wide receiver Jason McCorvey (6-0, 190) has committed to Fresno State. Also committing to the Bulldogs was Manual Arts linebacker-fullback Dion Laffitte (6-2, 225), who chose Fresno State over Oregon State, UNLV and Arizona State. . . . Dorsey wide receiver Antonio Carrion (5-9, 165) has made a commitment to San Diego State. Also committing to San Diego State were Pasadena Muir linebacker Derek Norman (6-1, 220), Pasadena Blair running back-defensive back Z-Ukoni Hodges (6-1, 185) and quarterback Kevin McKechnie (6-2, 175) of Sacramento. . . . Santa Ana Mater Dei fullback Nicky Sualua (5-11, 240) has made a commitment to Ohio State. Sualua also visited UCLA and Oregon, and canceled a trip to Kansas this weekend . . . Lawrence Phillips (6-1, 200) of Baldwin Park, rated the top running back prospect in Southern California’s senior class by the Scouting Evaluation Assn., has committed to Nebraska over Arizona State and USC.

Nationally, Michigan is having a terrific year, maybe the best in the country, according to some talent evaluators. Recent commitments include nose tackle William Carr (6-2, 265) and cornerback Tomell Hurd (6-0, 175) of Dallas; tight end Pierre Cooper (6-3, 210) of Alief, Tex., who chose the Wolverines over UCLA; inside linebacker Rob Swett (6-2, 225) of Doylestown, Pa., and guard Zack Adami (6-5, 275) of Little Rock, Ark. . . . The nation’s top quarterback prospect, consensus All-America Ron Powlus (6-3, 210) of Berwick, Pa., is expected to announce his college choice Saturday. According to well-placed sources, Powlus has already committed to Notre Dame, spurning Pittsburgh, Penn State and Miami. Meanwhile, the Irish have received commitments from one of the country’s best fullback prospects, Ron Hardin (6-2, 227) of Louisville, who also visited UCLA, and highly rated tackle Mike Doughty (6-8, 265) of Lakeville, Minn. But Notre Dame lost out to Miami for standout wide receiver Taj Johnson (6-3, 190) of Ardmore, Okla. The Irish earlier lost wide receiver Tony Simmons (6-2, 190) of Chicago St. Rita and linebacker David Lysek (6-3, 220) of Bethlehem, Pa., to Wisconsin, whose coach is former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Barry Alvarez. Alvarez, an excellent recruiter, also persuaded inside linebacker Brian Flanigan (6-2, 226) of Brussels, Wis., the brother of Notre Dame starting nose tackle Jim Flanigan, to commit to Wisconsin instead of the Irish.

Hoop report: The drawing power of Cal freshman standout Jason Kidd was evident at Pauley Pavilion Sunday. Among the curious in the near-sellout crowd of 12,563 that watched Kidd and the Bears defeat UCLA, 104-82, were many of the best high school basketball players in Southern California, including senior standouts Charles O’Bannon and Avondre Jones of Lakewood Artesia.

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