That is, everyone except for the graduates and draft eligible juniors.
For that small group of about 15, the end of the 2011 season marked the beginning of a new chapter: training for the 2012 NFL Draft.
On Wednesday the university hosted its annual ProDay to showcase the group's talents in front of various NFL teams and scouts. Players like Marc Tyler and Brandon Carswell took to Howard Jones Field after spending these past few months training at various facilities across the west coast.
The majority of media or teams in attendance likely came to see defensive end Nick Perry or offensive tackle Matt Kalil up close, and the projected first-rounders didn't disappoint. While they didn't run 40-yard dashes because they had done so officially at the NFL combine, Kalil excelled in his blocking drills and Perry seemed more genial and outgoing in his media interviews than on previous occasions. Both players' performances Wednesday would not have done any damage to their already high stock. At the NFL combine, Kalil did 30 repetitions of 225 pounds and ran an official 4.99 40-yard dash while Perry ran an official 4.64 40-yard dash and put up 35 repetitions of 225 pounds in Indianapolis.
In the offseason, defensive lineman Da'John Harris spent time working out at a training facility in Arizona. At the NFL combine, Harris was not allowed to work out because of a medical issue but was cleared before Wednesday. While he struggled on the three-cone drill at ProDay, he performed well in the defensive linemen drills alongside Perry. Harris, one of the standouts in the East-West Shrine Game, said he's lost some weight since season ended. He ran an unofficial 5.07 40-yard dash at the event.
Tyler, another participant in the East-West Shrine Game, worked out in Westlake Village, Calif. with teammate Marshall Jones and a slew of other current NFL players like Clay Matthews. Tyler didn't have a spectacular showing at the NFL combine, running an official 4.76 40-yard dash, just better than Wednesday's 4.81 unofficial time. But the running back caught well, even grabbing a few deep balls. Tyler is one of those players who may not be a great numbers guy but his offensive intelligence is above average and he would fit well into a system if given an opportunity and if he can put his character issues to bed.
Jones did not captivate many by his performance Wednesday nor did he hurt it, either. Jones said he put on about 15 pounds in the offseason and talked to a few people at the ProDay but no one person stood out. He doesn't have an idea of where he might be projected in the draft, if at all. He ran an unofficial 4.74 40-yard dash.
Shane Horton, with an unofficial 40-yard dash of 4.7 seconds at the ProDay, made the move from linebacker to safety during the offseason. He considers it a more natural position for him. Horton is a player who will work hard until he can't any longer and, after many conversations with him, he put in a tremendous amount of hours and effort to perform well Wednesday. Now he waits to see if one of 32 teams will take that chance and witness Horton's work ethic firsthand.
Carswell ran the called routes very well, showed great speed and seemed very composed throughout the day as the players went from one drill to the next. Unfortunately he didn't get to show off his blocking, as he made a name for being the Trojans' best blocking receiver last season. He ran an unofficial 4.56 40-yard dash.
Ellison has always been that guy that came to practice early and left later than everyone else and it's a quality that can't be captured in an event like ProDay. Fortunately scouts and teams talk to the Trojan coaches about their players. I overheard Coach Kennedy Polamalu talking to a scout about the tight end and his offensive intelligence. Spend a little time with Ellison and you know his football IQ is through the roof, couple that with his NFL bloodline and then add in a pinch of his physical ability and he really could be a sleeper in the NFL if a team is willing to add him. He posted an unofficial 4.83 40-yard dash and a 4.88 at the combine.
Tupou is known for being a great vocal leader on the field and in the weight room, another trait that is hard to illustrate in a setting like ProDay. He had an unofficial 5.4 40-yard dash and an official 5.42 at the combine.
Linebacker Chris Galippo performed well at the NFL combine and for this reason, he did not participate in the shuttle or three-cone drills. He recorded a unofficial 4.87 40-yard dash. Chris Pousson was one of two special teamers there Wednesday, including 2010 kicker Joe Houston. Pousson ran a slow 5.34 40-yard dash that led an Oakland Raiders scout to quip, "he better snap faster than that." Pousson has been known for being extremely consistent in his college career and any team in need of a solid longsnapper ought to pick him up.
A few surprise participants of the day included three former Trojans and defensive backs in Kevin Ellison, Cary Harris and Josh Pinkard. Harris ran a 4.53 40-yard dash, the fastest of the entire ProDay field. It was unclear why these players attended the day, but all are believed to be unsigned free agents.