With the chance to get back to Trojan football talk coming this evening with the Coaches Tour starting its Southern California segment at the Brian Kennedy Founders Room at USC, we'll start the day with some talk of the latest class of Trojans who have moved on to the NFL now that mini-camps are concluded and see how they're doing.
Leonard Williams -- New York Jets
Here's the report from NJ.com on Leonard, who is described in all reports much this way as having: "flashed plenty of quickness and agility in his first open practice with the Jets. Especially for someone who's 6-foot-5, 302 pounds."
"No different than on tape," Jets Coach Todd Bowles said. "He's explosive, powerful, smart. The one thing I saw: He has good eyes. He can hit and lock-out, and he can see what's going on, and kind of still play with his feet. It's early, on Day 1, but that's one of the small things I saw." On one particular play, quarterback Bryce Petty ran a play-action to his left and turned to throw a swing pass to his right, which happened to be Williams' side. Williams didn't bite and immediately bore down on Petty as Petty delivered the throw.
"He's a disciplined player," Bowles said. "He knows where he needs to be. You can tell he's played a lot of football. He takes on blocks a certain way. He's seen quite a few more things than some rookies have seen."
Williams said the Jets' 3-4 isn't much different from USC's except for this: "But I think here, it's a lot more attacking [where] at USC we did a lot of reading, trying to read the O-linemen and follow their footsteps," Williams said. "Whereas here, we just take an initial step and then put our hands on the linemen. So far, we've been taking a lot of slants and stunts getting a lot of D-line movement."
Nelson Agholor -- Eagles
Here's how the NJ Advance Media sees the Eagles' first-round pick from USC: "Last season the Eagles got exactly zero impact from their first-round pick, as outside linebacker Marcus Smith played only 77 snaps and didn't register a single sack. This season, things could be very different with first-round pick Nelson Agholor . . . Although he was the third receiver taken in the draft, some scouts view him as having the potential to end up being the best of a deep class.
CBS Sports' Rob Rang is one of those: "It isn't just Agholor's athleticism that makes him such an intriguing fit for the Eagles, however. Unlike (DeSean) Jackson, Agholor is a polished and reliable route-runner known for his work ethic and versatility. In fact, his ability to beat press coverage with technique and speed, alike, helped Agholor star both on the perimeter and out of the slot in Steve Sarkisian's pro-style offense at Southern Cal. Whether the Eagles will use Agholor in the slot or out on the perimeter is far from being decided, but his ability to do both should help him get on the field quickly . . . the Eagles are in need of a player to replace Jeremy Maclin on the outside. It is very likely that the Eagles will leave last year's rookie receiver, Jordan Matthews, on the inside. That leaves Agholor battling with second-year player Josh Huff and veteran Riley Cooper for playing time."
Josh Shaw -- Bengals
Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com has this to say about Josh, who the Bengals were considering trading up for to be sure to get him in the fourth round: "There were 14 cornerbacks selected before the Bengals took USC’s 6-0, 201-pound Josh Shaw earlier this month. But none of them put up his measurables and when the Bengals saw him for the first time this past weekend at rookie minicamp, the numbers leaped out of the laptop . . . Even before he took the field his fellow rookies were asking him if he was a linebacker or safety."
Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said “That’s why we drafted him . . . He’s a big, tall athlete with a lot of versatility.” Throw in Shaw’s experience playing at two different big-time schools (he began his career at Florida), his knowledge of different schemes, and his size and speed, it’s hard to find a better projection in the draft to eventually be an NFL starter, Hobson says of Shaw, who lined up at both inside and outside at cornerback at the minicamp and no doubt after he gets a few more snaps under his belt he’ll line up at safety a little bit. No matter where he was, Shaw wasted no time throwing around his weight. After getting pretty handsy with the receivers, head coach Marvin Lewis reminded him he can’t be so liberal in the NFL. “But at least he knows I’m physical,” Shaw said. “I’d rather him tell me to tone it down than turn it up.”
Here are the numbers the Bengals like so much about Shaw: Only three corners of the 14 drafted ahead of him were taller than Shaw, only two weighed as much and just two ran the 40 much faster than Shaw's 4.39-4.44 range. But none of the 14 were able to bench press 225 pounds a total of 26 times like Shaw did, Hobson notes. Only one other even broke 20. “I play corner pretty well," Shaw said. "I have good feet for my size. I can run fast. I definitely think I can play out here.”
Buck Allen -- Ravens
"We've seen Buck catch passes, we've seen Buck pass protect, so we know he can do it," Ravens coach John Harbaugh told the Baltimore Sun. "He has done it out here and looks very smooth doing it. He's running the ball well. We haven't had any surprises."
Buck, who signed to a four-year, $2.75 million contract that includes a $474,472 signing bonus, will be playing for new offensive coordinator Marc Trestman and is likely to get plenty of opportunities to catch the football the way Trestman using Matt Forte when he ran the Bears' offense. That's one of the top reasons the Ravens selected Buck -- his ability to catch passes out of the backfield, something the Sun described as "displaying that skill during the Ravens' recent rookie minicamp, adeptly transitioning in and out of breaks to make a series of receptions."
“I just want to show the coaching staff why they drafted me, why I was their No. 1 guy on the board, and come in and prove my point, make the 53-man roster and go from there," Allen told the Sun's Aaron Wilson.said. "It’s an honor. It’s a blessing knowing that all the hard work I put in throughout the years up to here is paying off.”
Randall Telfer -- Browns
As the Browns' 10th overall pick taken 22nd in the sixth round, the rehabbing Telfer is now expected to return to the field toward season's end. "He was one of our top-rated tight ends,'' Browns head coach Mike Pettine told the NE Ohio Media Group. "We were fortunate to be able to get him when we did. We all know that the injury's well-documented, but there is a chance that he'll be able to help us late in the year.''
Pettine said the USC tight end might miss a good chunk of the season while recovering from his foot surgery for a left mid-foot fracture involving the Lisfranc joint suffered during USC's 45-42 victory over Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Here's how the Cleveland Plain-Dealer described the prognosis: "Because such injuries are rare and hard to diagnose, Telfer didn't undergo the surgery until late February. Typically, a player can return to the field in about four to six months, but some doctors advise an eight-month rehab. In the best-case scenario, Telfer will return to limited football action in a month, but more likely, he'll test it toward the end of camp" but he will likely begin training camp -- and possibly the season -- on the physically unable to perform list. He might also be a candidate for short-term injured reserve or season-long injured reserve, meaning it would be a redshirt year for him. It all depends on how he progresses in his rehab. Currently, he's ahead of schedule, and has a history of playing through injuries at USC, including a sprained knee, a sprained ankle, a torn meniscus and a hip-point. In fact, Telfer was voted USC's most Inspirational Player in 2014."
"Randall is the team warrior for USC,'' his former Trojans and current Browns teammate Hayes Pullard, the seventh-round linebacker told the Plain-Dealer. "He's probably one of the toughest guys there are. I know it's a pleasure to play with him once again, Trojans going all the way to Cleveland together. It's going to be a great opportunity for him to show what he wasn't able to show at USC."
Hayes Pullard -- Browns
He was the Browns' 11th pick and the 219th overall and Hayes isn't letting himself forget it. As Browns beat writer Kevin Jones reported: "When he trotted out on the field for his first-ever NFL exposure at Cleveland’s rookie mini-camp last weekend, Pullard didn’t have the chills. He wasn’t grinning ear-to-ear like he’s already made it. Multiple times in his first interview session, Pullard noted he was the 219th pick in the draft. 'I will always remember that number,' he said. 'Always. The number 219 will continue to light the fire. The day when I can make the 53-man roster – that’s when I’ll be happy.' "
Pullard said he's putting his USC accomplishments -- four years starting, 377 tackles good for second most in USC history and captain's role during a turbulent time at USC when he played for four different head coaches and four different defensive coordinators -- "in my back pocket" as he attempts to prove that he's big enough and tough enough to be the downhill force in the middle the Browns need. “I just fell into those tackles all four years?” Pullard says with a little sarcasm. “I don’t know how that could happen, but you can only accept criticism, prove everybody wrong, continue to get better and be a peak performer.”
"Hayes is one of the hardest working, hardest hitting Trojans I've ever known," teammate Telfer says. "He's a great guy, high-character guy, a big-time leader. It's hard to say anything bad about Hayes."
Big man with the ball in his hands
At 325 pounds, Portland Thunder fullback John Martinez is easily the biggest regular fullback in football. And with six TDs this year in the Arena League, John makes us wish he'd have been a goal-line, short-yardage option for the Trojans when he was lining up at offensive guard. With the Thunder's game at Orlando on national TV last weekend, the trailing Thunder, who would lose 69-43, didn't have much chance to go with their short-yardage guy but John did get 13 positive yards on two rushes and one catch and he did get airborne on one of those runs, getting flipped head over heels on one high-flying leap over the pile. Gained positive yards and did hold on to the football.
Fighting On in Switzerland
Could have mentioned this in our graduation column -- or the one about Trojan football players going on to play for pay. Because that's what former Scout team quarterback John Manoogian, one of our favorite ever Trojans and a smart guy with a strong arm, is doing these days. With his MBA in hand from USC and interviewing for jobs, John got a call from a pro team in Basel, Switzerland, and two days later, after having USC assistant Clay Helton check them out, John was on a plane to Europe. He got to practice twice with his new team before debuting 10 days ago stepping in for a QB out for the season.
Here's the game story translated from German: Basel Gladiators @ Swarco Raiders 16.May 2015 what a weekend for the gladiators of Basel. The game was in Innsbruck with 47:7 will be lost but can be well defined as a positive conclusion from this encounter. Quarterback John Manoogian is probably the best pitcher the gladiator have ever taken under contract. Many drops, wrong routes and some wrong decisions of the arbitrator has the first appearance of the new Quarterback rather look bad.
John's receivers may have some work to do to get up to speed on his passes with 16 drops and two of his three interceptions coming on balls deflected off receivers' hands. And no run game (total ground offense of two yards despite a 12-yard run by John) and two 40-yard passes negated by calls from the glasses-ref "arbitrator."
Coaches Tour in SoCal tonight
After opening last week in the Bay Area, the USC Coaches Tour begins its five-stop Southern California run tonight at the Brian Kennedy Founders' Room at Galen Center. Then the tour moves on to La Jolla Country Club Wednesday, Indian Wells Country Club Friday followed by stops at the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach June 8 and finishes up June 10 at the Manhattan Beach Marriott. A cocktail reception begins the festivities at 5:30 p.m. at each venue with dinner served at Galen Center, Indian Wells and Manhattan Beach, while hors d'ouevres will be served at La Jolla and Newport Beach. A Q&A presentation by the coaches will follow. Business casual attire is suggested.
You can follow me on Twitter at @dweber3440 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.