Bull’s-eye: USC lands Dart to fill big need at QB

  • ESPN staff writer
  • Joined ESPN in 2011
  • Graduated from Central Michigan

USC got off to a fast start in the college football early signing period with ESPN 300 quarterback Jaxson Dart committing to the Trojans on Wednesday.

Dart is the No. 73-ranked recruit overall. The 6-foot-3, 210-pound signal-caller from Draper, Utah, is the second-highest-ranked commit in the Trojans’ class. He chose USC over UCLA, Arizona State and BYU.

“I think USC has always been an exciting school, especially for kids on the West Coast,” Dart said. “I think people are starting to understand their culture and what they want to do. A lot of kids want to be a part of it and buy in and obviously it’s working because they’re in the Pac-12 championship, they’re undefeated and it’s just something that’s super exciting.”

He is the Trojans’ second ESPN 300 quarterback commit in this class, along with No. 36 Miller Moss. The Trojans had two quarterbacks committed through most of this recruiting cycle, but lost Jake Garcia, the No. 18 recruit, when he decommitted earlier this month.

It was imperative that USC sign two quarterbacks in this class because the staff didn’t sign one in the 2020 cycle after the No. 1-ranked dual-threat quarterback, Bryce Young, flipped from USC to Alabama. The roster also needed more depth as current starter Kedon Slovis will be entering his third season in 2021 and could have the option of leaving for the NFL.

Outside of Slovis, Matt Fink is the only other scholarship quarterback on the roster, so landing Dart and Moss is a big help.

Dart put up eye-popping numbers this season, throwing for 4,691 yards, 67 touchdowns and four interceptions, while running for 1,195 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Being from Utah, his recruitment got off to a slow start, but it picked up through the benefit of playing this season and being able to showcase what he can do on the field.

“Utah was the very first state to play in the country [after COVID-19 restrictions] and we were able to play a full season and get all of our games in,” Dart said. “I think it really helped that we played first, so it seemed like more college coaches, since they didn’t know what was going to happen with their season, they had a lot of eyes on Utah. I was fortunate enough to play on ESPN in Week 3, and I was able to perform really well.

“I think there are a lot of things that tied in and helped my recruitment out a ton this year.”

Dart’s commitment is also part of a huge turnaround for the Trojans, who had the No. 54-ranked class in the 2020 cycle with only one ESPN 300 commitment. ESPN now has the opportunity to break into the top 10 in 2021 and has eight ESPN 300 commitments in the class.

That has been a concerted effort from the Trojans, who are 5-0 this season, to “take back the West” on the recruiting trail.

“The relationships I’ve made with Coach [Graham] Harrell, Coach [Clay] Helton and Coach [Seth] Doege have been super strong,” Dart said. “It’s in L.A., so I think it’s going to provide a ton of opportunities off the field as well. Of course, it’s a great education, so I really think there’s just so many great things about USC that I couldn’t turn it down.”

Sooners land No. 27 recruit Byrd: Oklahoma also added a big name to its class on Wednesday with ESPN 300 offensive lineman Savion Byrd, who is the No. 27-ranked recruit overall.

Byrd is a 6-foot-5, 265-pound lineman out of Duncanville, Texas, and he adds to an already great offensive recruiting haul for the Sooners.

The top four commitments in Oklahoma’s class are on the offensive side, led by the No. 1-ranked dual-threat quarterback in the class in Caleb Williams. The staff also has signed the No. 1 wide receiver in Mario Williams and two other ESPN 300 receivers with Jalil Farooq and Cody Jackson.

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