Obvious/Not So Obvious - Grad edition

Like two passing cardinal and gold graduation ships in the night, the USC football program waved an NFL good-bye to Carson Palmer and his spirited senior teammates and looked forward to welcoming, with the late edition of quarterback John David Booty, the greatest USC freshman football class, at least on paper, of the modern Trojan football era.

The Obvious - Like two passing cardinal and gold graduation ships in the night, the USC football program waved an NFL good-bye to Carson Palmer and his spirited senior teammates and looked forward to welcoming, with the late edition of quarterback John David Booty, the greatest USC freshman football class, at least on paper, of the modern Trojan football era.

The Not So Obvious - Seven senior Trojans were signed as free agents by seven different NFL clubs, but perhaps the biggest "free agent" news of the month was the announcement of Louisiana prep legend John David Booty to forego his senior year and be part of an incoming USC class that has run out of superlatives.

The Obvious - This year's NFL draft produced two first round Trojan selections in No. 1 Carson Palmer by Cincinnatti and and No. 16 Troy Polamalu by Pittsburgh.

The Not So Obvious - The 1968 NFL draft produced a record five USC first round picks in tackles Ron Yary (#1 Vikings) and Ron Taylor (#10 Steelers), defensive end Tim Rossovich (#14 Eagles), fullback Mike Hull (#16 Bears), and receiver Earl McCullough (#24 Lions).

The Obvious - The Trojans now have produced 408 draft picks in the history of the NFL draft and increased their leading all-time NFL first round draft picks to 62.

The Not So Obvious - Notre Dame is second to the Trojans with 57 first round selections and Ohio State is third with 55. When the post-season all-star teams came out, Ohio State safety was listed by some over Troy Polamalu. While Troy went as the 16th pick, the Buckeyes' Doss was taken in the second round by Indianapolis and was the 58th player taken overall.

The Obvious - The boys at the Trojans media relations had it right for last year's press guide which featured on the back a picture of Carson Palmer and Troy Polamalu, the Trojan's two first round NFL draft picks.

The Not So Obvious - The fact that Palmer and Polamalu will now become rivals in the AFC East. Twice an NFL season, Cincinnatti and Pittsburgh will have at it, and it will also be interesting to see Palmer and Polamalu compete against each other, especially if Carson comes running out of the pocket.

The Obvious - If ever a Trojan was born to play with a particular NFL team, it was certainly Troy Polamalu for the vaunted defensive tradition of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Not So Obvious - It was quite a draft party for Troy over at Coach Kennedy Pola's house. With family and friends and not to mention Pete Carroll, it was quite a celebration went Troy's name came up. Of course, Troy will have to learn the name of the stadium in the Steel City. In a television interview, Troy referred to Heinz as Three Rivers Stadium.

The Obvious - While tailback Justin Fargas might have been a bit disappointed he was selected in the third round considering his late draft positive workouts and publicity, he certainly couldn't complain about being selected by the Oakland Raiders. Former Trojan coach Al Davis has a habit of selecting Trojans, and they usually stick with his Raiders.

The Not So Obvious - Projected as a possible long-term replacement for Charlie Garner, Fargas is the highest Trojan running back picked since Ricky Ervins was a third round pick in 1991.

The Obvious - Sultan McCullough (Redskins), Zack Wilson (Lions), DeShaun Hill (Jets), Darrell Rideaux (Colts), Bernard Riley (Buccs), Grant Mattos (Chargers, and Chad Pierson (Raiders) were all picked up as free agents.

The Not So Obvious - In the old days of the NFL draft, there were as many as 17 rounds. In today's pro world, there are only 7 rounds, so the Trojan free agents should take comfort that in another era, they might have been "selected". The good news is that these free agents probably stand a better chance to make a roster because they had a choice to be picked up by a team of their choosing. It figures as many as four of these Trojans will be around for the start of the NFL season.

The Obvious - On Saturday evening, Trojan quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Pat Haden were inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame at the Millennium Biltmore in Los Angeles.

The Not So Obvious - While it is old news that Palmer was the number one selection in the NFL draft, it should be noted that Trojan Hall of Fame inductee Haden was a 7th round selection in the 1975 draft by the former Los Angeles Rams and the 176th player selected.

The Obvious - Running back Sultan McCullough was picked up as a free agent by the Washington Redskins.

The Not So Obvious - Few running backs in Trojan history have brought some many different emotions from coaches and fans. Blessed with extraordinary speed, McCullough could one moment looked like the second coming of O.J. Simpson and the next moment would hit the holes like Homer Simpson. In a strange turn of events, McCullough will be reunited with another controversial figure for Trojan fans, former USC offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.

The Obvious - The 2003 Trojan freshman football class is being compared to the 1971 USC football team, considered by many the Trojans greatest ever assembled class.

The Not So Obvious - Part of its greatness came from a 1971 recruiting class which included Pat Haden, J.K. McKay, Anthony Davis, Richard Wood, Allen Carter, and Lynn Swann, but also included "lesser" names which included the likes of linebackers Dale Mitchell and Eddie Powell, center Bob McCaffrey, and defensive backs Marvin Cobb and Charles Philips.

The Obvious - The 2003 class includes an awesome aray of talent at seeminly every position. The names Booty, Lewis, Bush, Smith, Ellis, Radovich, and the list goes on and on.

The Not So Obvious - What isn't known is who will be the surprises and the disappointments. In order to be the greatest class of them all, this class will all have to make it academically into school, live up to the hype on the field, and produce championships. The more intriguing question is who will not live up to their hype?

The Obvious - Some in "suits" would like to see the elimination of freshman eligibility and the return to freshman football.

The Not So Obvious - USC once field a freshman team called the Trobabes. The 1971 Trobabes went undefeated in a four game schedule that included wins over California (45-17), Stanford (37-0), Mt. San Antonio (28-10), and UCLA (25-21). The UCLA game, played on a Friday afternoon in the Coliseum, showcased the deput of tailback Anthony Davis, a converted option quarterback out of San Fernando. Many had come to watch the likes of newcomers Haden, McKay, and running back Allen Carter, but Davis stole the show that Friday afternoon.

The Obvious - The incoming 2003 class by the Trojans lacked one element to be considered a consensus top rated recruiting class and that was at quarterback.

The Not So Obvious - None of the recruiting gurus have changed their rankings as of this late date since the Booty announcement in terms of moving the Trojans ahead to the top. In checking different sites, Florida and LSU remain in front of the Trojans. It will be interesting to see what the upcoming national publications update when they hit the stands in late June.

The Obvious - The Trojan football program recently received word that heralded prep stars Whitney Lewis, Chris Barrett, and Drean Rucker had all achieved the college board scores needed for freshman admittance into USC.

The Not So Obvious -There are still some outstanding members of this highly anticipated class that have not yet qualified, but the latest news on Lewis, Barrett, and Rucker went a long way in cementing the potential of this class.

The Obvious - Although they may have different styles and body types, wide receiver Whitney Lewis and former Trojan legend Lynn Swann may draw comparisons as Lewis' career unfolds.

The Not So Obvious - In Swann's first year playing as a sophomore for the Trojans, Lynn led the Trojans in punt returns (ave. 14.3) and receptions with 27 for 305 yards (11.2 ave), but oddly enough did not score a touchdown his rookie year.

The Obvious - There were many who felt that Whitney Lewis might have trouble getting the required test score for entrance into Troy, but the kid came through.

The Not So Obvious - According to an article in the Ventura Star-Free Press, "Because he is dyslexic, Lewis took the test alone in a St. Bonaventure office with counselor Bob Hahn. He (Lewis) said the key to his improvement was forcing himself to focus." Lewis said, "I really needed to take more time, this time around. I used up all the time I could use this time."

The Obvious - There are numerous articles coming out questioning the wisdom of John David Booty's decision to leave his senior year in high school and enter college early.

The Not So Obvious - If ever a kid was ready and had reason to leave his high school, this kid had it. His highly respected football coach father was let go by the head of Evangel Christian for non-football issues; the fact that Booty had almost enough credits and the grades to graduate anyway; the fact the kid is a year older than his class; Lastly, nobody says Booty isn't ready to play college football. Bottom line is the kid would still be at Evangel this fall had his father not been dismissed.

The Obvious - No matter if this star-studded incoming freshman class makes the academic grade and comes in completely in tact , it is clear that quarterback John David Booty will be the most intensely watched player come August.

The Not So Obvious - This from a Trojan insider who had a chance to sit down and watch extensive film of Booty from last season, "I sat down figuring I had seen all the prep quarterback phenoms I could see, so I was not expecting to be awed. After watching the tape, I have to say I have never seen anything like him. I heard that all he did was take snaps from the shotgun, but that wasn't true. He was behind center a whole bunch and he was flicking passes 50 yards right on the money. I came away saying this guy is better than what the Trojans have right now at quarterback."

The Obvious - By the time that the national and local media are done promoting John David Booty, the kid will be placed along side Pat Haden, Todd Marinovich, and Carson Palmer as the most anticipated Trojan quarterbacks to come along the past 40 years.

The Not So Obvious - Aside from Palmer, the only Trojan quarterbacks to receive college All-America status the past 40 years have been Rodney Peete and Paul McDonald. One could debate that Peete had the hype coming from Shawnee Mission South in Kansas, but nothing like Haden, Marinovich, and to a lesser extent Palmer.

The Obvious - No Trojans received more acclaim during their era coming out of high school than Bishop Amat's Pat Haden and J.K. McKay, two legendary high school players, who played large roles in John McKay's powerhouse teams of the early 70's.

The Not So Obvious - In today's world of recruiting publicity and exposure, the passing combination of Haden to McKay would have been legendary across the country. However, despite their hearlded production both in high school and college, neither Pat Haden nor J.K. McKay ever made All-America or All-Conference while at USC. Both, however, are considered Trojan immortals.

The Obvious - For the most devout Trojan football fan, there is always the agony of waiting to find out what time games will start thanks to television.

The Not So Obvious - The Trojan web site is saying that ABC has picked up three home games and set the times. The home opener against BYU game is set for 5:00 pm, homecoming against Washington State is 4:00 pm, and the final home game in December against Oregon State slated for 1:30 pm. That final home game against Oregon State takes us back to an era when most college football games used to start at 1:30 pm.

The Obvious - There is nothing better than attending a USC away game, especially if it is in South Bend or Seattle.

The Not So Obvious - ABC will televise the game at Washington at 12:30 pm while NBC will send back the Notre Dame game to Los Angeles at 11:30 am. For those going to South Bend, the Irish revenge starts at 1:30 pm.

The Obvious - The 2003 Bronko Nagurski Award, which names the nation's top defender at the end of the year, has listed its 36 players, and its list includes Trojan defensive end Kenechi Udeze and linebacker Matt Grootegoed.

The Not So Obvious - This coming season, the Trojan offense will face four opponents whom also have players on the prestigious 36 player list. The Trojans will face linebackers Karlos Dansby (Auburn), Richard Seigler (Oregon State) and Courtney Watson (Notre Dame), plus tackle Isacc Sopoaga (Hawaii).

The Obvious - Of all the Trojans drafted recently, the player that may be the most interesting to watch is wide receiver Kareem Kelly, whose motivation and maturity will be the most tested come next August in New Orleans.

The Not So Obvious - There will be no excuse for Kelly. This is it. He has been, as well as all the other Trojans, prepared well for the NFL by Pete Carroll. This will be Kelly's chance to live up completely to his blessed skills. Let's hope we see Kelly on Sundays in New Orleans rather than in Frankfort.

The Obvious - The Trojan coaches are now open for the spring evaluation period and are now calling recruits and gettng ready to visit recruits from across the country.

The Not So Obvious - So what do some of the coaches do to when not working full time with the Trojan football program? Well, wasn't that offensive coordinator Norm Chow recently seen at the Staples Center with a prime seat watching the Lakers overtime loss to the Timberwolves?

The Obvious - Wide receiver Mike Williams was selected for the 2003 Playboy All-America team, the 57th Trojan so honored.

The Not So Obvious - USC has placed more players on the Playboy Magazine pre-season college All-American football team than any other university. Trojan twins Mike and Marlin McKeever were the first honored in 1960. Sophomore Mike Williams has a chance to join tackle Tony Boselli as the only 3-time Playboy selection. The only question about this summer's photo shoot is will Hugh Hefner ask Mike Williams and the rest of the players to stand "abreast". Sorry, couldn't resist.


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