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JOSH BARBER, CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Huntington Beach's Liam Jimmons, shown making a tackle against Marina this past season, is already enrolled at USC after graduating early from high school. He was recruited by the Trojans to play defensive end.

Recruiting notes: Jimmons happy with his decisions

STAFF WRITER

Liam Jimmons made three decisions this past summer about his college future, each showing his maturity in a different way.

The Huntington Beach defensive end jumped at the chance to play for USC when the Trojans offered him a scholarship.

He took summer school classes so that he could graduate at mid-year from high school, which would allow him to enroll early at USC.

The hardest decision was the one to give up playing rugby.

Rugby has been Jimmons’ other passion since the eighth grade. Just like football, the sport has brought him recognition as a rising standout.

But with a football scholarship to USC in hand, Jimmons didn’t want to risk an injury while playing rugby, so he stopped.

“I wanted to stay healthy and focus on football,” he said. “I was bummed because I love the sport, but I knew it was the right thing to do. … It was my own decision.”

Jimmons delivered another strong football season in the fall. He earned first-team All-Sunset League honors, though the Oilers struggled and finished 3-7.

“It wasn’t the best record for the team, but it was just a fun season,” he said. “I could have played better. I always think I can play better.”

Jimmons couldn’t have done much better academically. After taking those extra courses in the summer, he graduated from Huntington Beach in December, earning a 4.0 grade-point average in his final semester.

“You definitely have to have the right attitude about it and make sure you focus on what you want to do,” he said of the academic strategy.

Jimmons graduated early to get a jump-start on college. He is enrolled at classes at USC and training to gain weight, strength and speed. He is 6-foot-41/2 and 270 pounds.

“I wanted to get familiar with the playbook early,” he said. “Hopefully, (I don’t) have to redshirt my freshman year.”

San Juan Hills quarterback Patrick O’Brien also graduated high school early, enrolled at Nebraska and started classes this month. Like Jimmons, he is already training with the team.

Jimmons stuck to his decision to attend USC despite the school’s coaching drama. He committed to the Trojans while Steve Sarkisian was the coach, but he remained firm in his decision after Clay Helton was named as the Trojans’ new leader.

“When Coach Helton got hired, I was really happy about that,” Jimmons said. “That pretty much locked my position, because he was there when I got offered and he’s my main connection to the school.”

USC’s coaches stayed committed to Jimmons, too, contacting him after the coaching change. The Trojans beat out Washington and Boise State to sign Jimmons.

Jimmons’ rugby resume rivals his one in football. He played for the Back Bay Sharks and a high school All-American team.

He also has played internationally, attracting the attention of the London Wasps. The English team invited Jimmons, who was born in England but raised in Huntington Beach, to one of its camps.

While Jimmons might one day return to rugby, he’s enjoying the start of his college football career, thanks to the decisions he made last summer.

“I could not pass up ’SC,” he said.

RILEY’S LIST

Servite safety/corner Keyon Riley (6-2, 195) said he has narrowed his college decision to UCLA and Colorado State.

The senior hasn’t made any official campus visits, but he said both programs have respected his recruiting pace. Both offered him during the summer.

“(I) just (want to) find somewhere where I’m comfortable,” he said. “Somewhere you can stay four years, make good connections with people.”

Riley played safety and corner in the fall. He also runs the 400 meters in track.

LOGGING MILES

La Habra quarterback Eric Barriere (6-0, 185) is making an official visit to Hawaii this weekend. He also has made trips in the past month to Eastern Washington and Sacramento State.

“I really liked Eastern Washington,” he said via Twitter. “I love the fact that it’s a college town and everybody comes out to support the football team. Also, the red field is amazing.”

Of Sacramento State, he said, “A huge campus with great facilities. The coaching staff is great and (the) building something special.”

NOTES

San Clemente offensive guard Donte Harrington (6-3, 296) will visit Boise State this weekend, Tritons coach Jaime Ortiz said. Harrington has picked up offers recently, including one from Colorado State on Thursday.

The Tritons have had visits from college coaches interested in junior quarterback Jack Sears (6-3, 190). “He will be one of the top QB prospects in 2017 across the nation,” Ortiz said. …

Mission Viejo quarterback Brock Johnson (6-2, 195), the Register’s offensive player of the year, will make an unofficial visit this weekend to USC, the senior said. …

Diablos coach Bob Johnson believes All-County safety Brenden Schooler (6-3, 185) is being overlooked by recruiters. “He’s very talented,” Johnson said. …

Mater Dei receiver AJ Collins (6-5, 195) will visit UNLV this weekend and defensive lineman Connor Rossow (6-3, 285) has been offered by New Mexico, Monarchs coach Bruce Rollinson said. …

Orange Lutheran junior safety Brandon McKinney (6-2, 200) said he has been offered by Utah. ...

Buena Park junior receiver/outside linebacker Taariq Johnson (6-4, 210) has been offered by Colorado, Coyotes coach Anthony White said. …

Santa Margarita All-County defensive end Alec Stewart (6-5, 240) visited Wyoming last weekend.

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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