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February 4, 2009

Starling picks Trojans

A year ago, Pete Carroll and the Trojan coaching staff pulled a shocking Signing Day upset, reeling in four-star cornerback T.J. Bryant from Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln.

Bryant hadn't been on the USC radar long before putting on a USC hat.

Wednesday, Carroll and the Trojan staff did it again, pulling four-star safety Jawanza Starling from the same high school.

Starling announced his decision Wednesday at Lincoln, perhaps developing a pipeline from the Southeast to the West Coast.

Starling, the seventh-ranked safety in the 2009 class and a member of the Rivals250, visited USC in late January. USC offensive line coach Pat Ruel handled his recruitment.

"Jawanza is a big time hitter at safety for us. He plays with absolutely zero fear out there," Lincoln head coach Kyle Rice said. "Jawanza is a very intelligent kid that knows the game and can also provide great coverage at defensive back. The thing with Jawanza is we can play him at either wide receiver or safety and still get huge production. He knows what goes through the mind of a receiver because he understands coverages."

Starling declined to do interviews throughout his senior year, and many suspected Starling would either end up in state or at Georgia, where his cousin, Bryan Evans, plays cornerback.

However, as decision day approached, Starling reportedly trimmed his list to USC and Notre Dame.

After announcing for the Trojans Wednesday, former prep teammates Bryant and Starling will be reunited in the secondary.

"T.J. is great," Starling said last summer. "We worked a lot in the spring on different things I can use with my cover skills, whether it was lining up the right way or knowing when to jam and when to back off."

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