Trojans Continue to March On

USC has been humming along with great recruiting momentum since closing the 2002 football campaign in impressive "buzz-saw" fashion. USC has followed a very simple, but extremely sound recruiting plan since Pete Carroll took over as coach in 2001.

The recruiting plan has two parts: First, lockdown the state of California, and more specifically the greater Los Angeles area. Carroll's first official recruiting class through current verbal commitments in their respective 2007 and 2008 classes has produced 120 players. 96, or rather 80 percent, of the total number of players USC has successfully recruited have come from the Golden State.

The first part of the recruiting plan seems very simple, but the best that California had to offer was not always signing with USC for a little over twenty years. USC will always lose a few battles to Notre Dame and UCLA. However, during the 1980's and 90's many teams prospected some big-time talent from Los Angeles. Three teams that helped themselves immensely were Washington, Colorado and Nebraska. Carroll has pretty much closed off the state to other suitors, and USC is thriving with that in-state talent.

The second part of the recruiting plan firmly puts USC over the top. It plays a vital role in why USC has had consensus No. 1-ranked recruiting classes since 2003. It is recruiting cherry picking at its finest. The other twenty percent of Southern Cal's recruits come from across the country. According to Carroll "we go state to state looking for No. 1 draft picks". A couple examples of this: Brian Cushing from New Jersey and Patrick Turner from Tennessee. The USC recruiting plan is simple, efficient and extremely effective.

The focus of this article will concentrate on the individual recruits from the last two recruiting classes that signed. I will give a breakdown of each player, including their final rankings by Scout, what they have accomplished so far and how their prospects for playing time may or may not materialize this fall.

Quarterback

Mark Sanchez is a redshirt freshman, who was the national high school player of the year. Mark was the No. 1 quarterback in the 2005 class along with being a five-star prospect. He is battling John David Booty for the starting spot. Booty was also the No. 1 quarterback in the 2003 class along with also being a five-star prospect. Booty sat out most of the spring due to injury and surgery.

Garrett Green is an incoming freshman. Garrett was the No. 22-ranked quarterback in the 2006 class along with being a three-star prospect. Here's your baseball hat, headphones and clipboard. He might get lucky and hold the ball on kick attempts.

In short summary, the top two quarterbacks from the 2003 and 2005 recruiting classes are competing for the starting position this fall. With Sanchez's off field issues behind him, many expect Sanchez to be the starter this fall, but don't count out Booty if he's healthy.

Running Back

Michael Coleman originally signed at USC as a quarterback. In fact he was a four-star prospect who was ranked as the No. 19 quarterback in the country. He had 20 carries for 95 yards last year at tailback. He is recovering from a hip injury.

USC signed one fullback and four tailbacks in 2006.

Stanley Havili is the fullback. Stanley was a four-star prospect who also ranked as the No. 16 running back in the 2006 class. He will probably head straight to the weight room. Brandon Hancock is the senior veteran at fullback.

Chauncey Washington, who was a backup at tailback in 2003, has been an academic casualty the last couple seasons but has been placed as the preliminary starter for the 2006 season. Chauncey was a four-star prospect and ranked as the No. 7 running back in 2003.

Carroll will have four very talented freshman running backs come in this fall and compete for some quality playing time. He expects at least one of the four to step up and split carries with Washington.

Stafon Johnson was a five-star prospect who was ranked as the No. 2 running back in the 2006 class. Stafon runs with a slashing style, has great feet vision and balance.

Emmanuel Moody was a four-star prospect who was ranked as the No. 11 running back in the 2006 class. Emmanuel is a playmaker. He is shifty but powerful, and is skilled at turning a busted play into a big gain. He keeps his legs moving and has the lateral quickness and the moves to leave would be tacklers grasping at air.

C.J. Gable was a five-star prospect who was ranked as the No. 4 defensive back in the 2006 class. He runs with authority and will run over a defender to pick up extra yardage. He also has the speed to cut outside. He may also be looked at cornerback.

Kenny Ashley was a three-star prospect who was ranked the No. 69 running back in the class of 2006. Kenny was offered late after a stellar showing in the Cali-Florida Bowl.

Wide Receiver

Patrick Turner was a five-star prospect who was the No. 1-ranked wide out in the 2005 class. Patrick is a sophomore who had 12 receptions for 170 yards and two touchdowns this past season. He will definitely increase his numbers this year, but he probably won't explode until next year unless star wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett gets injured.

Supplementing an already excellent trifecta of starting receivers is this group of five talented prep All-Americans for the 2006 class.

Vidal Hazelton was a five-star prospect and ranked the No. 1 one wide out in the 2006 class. Vidal has lots of potential. He has very good size and has speed to catch the deep ball. He can fake a defender with his lateral quickness and loves contact.

David Ausberry was a five-star prospect and ranked the No. 6 wide receiver in the class of 2006. David is very physically gifted with a college body already.

Jamere Holland was a four-star prospect and ranked No. 11 in the class of 2006. Jamere has speed, is a big play threat and runs good routes, which allows him separation from defensive backs.

Travon Patterson was a four-star prospect and ranked the No. 26 in the country in the class of 2006. Travon a smaller receiver, who has speed and is very dangerous returning punts and kicks.

Anthony McCoy was a four-star prospect and ranked the 5 th best tight end in the class of 2006. Anthony is a very big receiver, who may be moved to tight end when he arrives on campus.

I don't see any of the freshmen making much of an impact this year. It's certainly not for a lack of talent. It should be an interesting spring battle in 2007 with Steve Smith and Jarrett likely leaving.

Tight End

Gerald Washington was a four-star junior college prospect who actually enrolled at USC in the spring. He will compete for playing time with a handful of other veteran candidates.

Charles Brown was listed as a 2005 tight end recruit but has since been moved to offensive tackle. As already mentioned, Anthony McCoy, listed as a receiver, may be moved to tight end and could be the tight end of the future for the Trojans.

Offensive Line

Charles Brown was a four-star prospect and ranked the 10th best tight end in the class of 2005. Charles is a converted tight end who was red-shirted last year.

Nick Howell was a three-star prospect and ranked the No. 49 offensive linemen in the country. Nick is a tackle prospect who was also red-shirted last year.

Both Brown and Howell will compete for the open right tackle position with often used senior Kyle Williams and junior Matt Spanos.

Zack Heberer was a four-star prospect and ranked the No. 36 offensive linemen. Zack is a guard prospect coming in this fall. Will probably be red-shirted but may compete with oft-injured Jeff Byers and Chilo Rachal for playing time in 2006.

I have to admit I was initially surprised by the low number of offensive linemen taken in the past two classes. However, fourteen total offensive linemen were taken from 2002-2004.

Kicker

Troy Van Blarcom was a three-star prospect and the No. 5 kicker from the 2005 class. He handled kickoffs in his first season. He had 31 touchbacks. 51 kicks kept the opponent inside their 20 yard line. He might be called on for long range field goals in the fall.

Overall on offense, the Trojans have been extremely effective recruiting quality talent. USC has inked five five-star prospects, ten four-star prospects and two three-star prospects on offense in the past two seasons.

For comparison purposes, the Irish have signed three five-star prospects, twelve four-star prospects and nine three star prospects.

We'll take a look at the Trojan defensive recruiting tomorrow.


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