Four-star QB Jaxson Dart picks USC as Trojans get their guy
With 5-star defensive end Korey Foreman signing with his school of choice Wednesday but not revealing his decision publicly until Jan. 2, the story of the Early Signing Period for USC was the much-anticipated decision of 4-star quarterback Jaxson Dart (Draper, Utah).
USC made a calculated gamble, choosing to aggressively recruit Dart despite having commitments from two 4-star 2021 QBs already in Jake Garcia and Miller Moss, and indeed that pursuit would ultimately chase off Garcia, who decommitted two weeks ago.
That put all the spotlight on USC trying to close the deal with Dart, who was also strongly considering Arizona State while UCLA and BYU were his other finalists.
Dart ended the suspense Wednesday morning, announcing live on ESPN2 that he will indeed become a Trojan.
"I developed some great relationships with different coaches and I hope they know how much I respect them, but in the end there's only one place my heart is telling me to go," Dart said on the live announcement. "With that being said, I'm excited to announce that I'm committed to the University of Southern California."
In a follow-up interview with ESPN, Dart expounded on his Trojans decision.
"I've been able to gain such a great relationship with the coaching staff over a short period of time," he said. "I love their winning culture and the tradition that they have, and I'm super excited to play in an offense that spins the rock. I can't wait to get after it."
Dart came on the radar of the Trojans -- and really the national radar -- this fall while setting Utah single-season state records with 67 passing TDs (plus 12 rushing TDs) and 5,867 total offensive yards.
He's a true dual-threat QB who embraces a physical running style, unafraid to take on contact and fight for extra yards, and in the pocket he's a smooth operator, exuding poise and confidence and again not shying away from taking a hard hit if it means waiting for his receiver to come open.
"I mean, [my recruitment's] gone crazy. I didn't have much coming into this year, and I feel like I was super prepared that any opportunity I had of playing this year I was going to make the most of it. It's been crazy and I've enjoyed it for every second," Dart told TrojanSports.com last month. "I just knew if I did my part and winning brings eyes to things, so just coming here, just trying to do my job, I knew things would happen."
As for the Trojans, they made Dart feel like a priority -- with head coach Clay Helton, offensive coordinator Graham Harrell and offensive analyst Seth Doege all consistently in contact with him -- and sold him on the opportunity to join a program that has a rich history of sending QBs to the NFL. That was a major driving factor in Dart's decision ultimately.
"I have a great relationship with Coach Helton, Coach Doege and Coach Harrell, so they've been awesome, we've been in contact a lot," Dart said. "It's crazy. USC is QBU so I wasn't really expecting [the Trojans to get involved], but I'm just super grateful for the opportunity."
Dart brought his whole family to Los Angeles two weekends ago for a second self-guided tour around USC's campus to help affirm his decision.
"[It was] kind of just to look at things one more time, kind of get that second reassurance. So I was able to do that with USC and UCLA just to look through some places and look at the campus, which was really cool," Dart told TrojanSports.com. "[I brought] my whole family. I think it was good for my mom to see things as well and my siblings. It was cool to be able to go out again because the first time it was just me and my dad.
"When we went there it was mostly shut down so some places we weren't able to get into, but campus, it was super cool, love how everything is super close and it's really convenient and easy. Just seems like a really good area."
Dart and Moss will now compete for the future of the position at USC with incumbent starter Kedon Slovis the only scholarship QB expected to return next year and likely to be off to the NFL after the 2021 season.
In addition to Dart, the Trojans also signed another key target who was not previously committed Wednesday, landing 3-star WR Joseph Manjack, out of Houston, Texas.