"Recruiting Watch" article from SI.com

"On Signing Day, Carroll had not signed a quarterback. The irony is that the Trojans really wanted Wright, who signed with Miami, and Leak, who signed with Florida. In the end, they lost out on the country's top two quarterbacks, but landed the big one in Booty this spring and are getting him a year early."

Just when you think you have seen it all in the wacky world of college football recruiting, something new and extraordinary happens. To wit, the nation's top recruit for the Class of 2004, quarterback John David Booty from Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian Academy, commits to head coach Pete Carroll and the Southern Cal Trojans.

But this is not the surprise.

USC put together one of the nation's top classes on National Signing Day 2003 and has a lot of momentum. Shortly after his decision to play football in the Pac-10 for the Trojans, Booty decided he will enroll at USC this fall, rather than in January. So all of a sudden, the nation's top prospect for next season will be playing major college football this season instead of quarterbacking one of the nation's top prep programs.

Booty is an unbelievable talent who follows an unbelievable quarterback legacy at Evangel. You may remember his older brother, Josh, who decided to play baseball in the Florida Marlins' system before returning to LSU. Booty now is a backup QB with the Cleveland Browns. Then there was Phillip Deas, who signed with North Carolina; Brock Berlin, who signed with Florida and is now with Miami, and Brent Rawls, who now is an Oklahoma Sooner. If you lump all of these quarterbacks together, you get John David, and at this same stage, he would be the best of this great bunch.

Now that John David is part of the Class of 2003 and will be at Southern Cal this fall, rather than next fall, it greatly affects the rankings. Kyle Wright narrowly edged Chris Leak and JaMarcus Russell as the nation's top quarterback prospect among the Class of 2003. Factor in Booty and you have a new No. 1 quarterback.

John David is that good and he joins a USC class filled with incredible talent on both sides of the ball. All that kept the Trojans from winning the overall recruiting battle against LSU and Florida was the quarterback position. When grading a recruiting class, three important aspects need to be evaluated -- need, speed and balance. When grading all three teams, LSU and Florida had slightly more balance and filled that all-important quarterback need. On Signing Day, Carroll had not signed a quarterback. The irony is that the Trojans really wanted Wright, who signed with Miami, and Leak, who signed with Florida. In the end, they lost out on the country's top two quarterbacks, but landed the big one in Booty this spring and are getting him a year early.

Upon further review, USC takes the title for the nation's top recruiting class. John David makes the difference. He joins a potentially star-studded future offensive lineup that includes the nation's top wide receiver in Whitney Lewis and the nation's No. 6-ranked receiver in Steve Smith. In addition, USC signed three big-time running backs, led by Reggie Bush and Chauncey Washington. Add in one of the nation's best tight ends in Chris Barrett and the top offensive tackle and guard from the West Coast in Drew Radovich and Sam Baker, respectively. Tinseltown could and should be electric in the coming football seasons with the bunch they have coming in this fall, led by quarterback John David Booty.


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