O/NSO - Recruiting Review

Pete Carroll and his relentless staff, headed by recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron, have college football experts and fans stunned with a two-year total of 31 high school All-Americans, including 10 Parade All-Americans.

The Obvious – On the 40th anniversary of the Beatles' British Invasion and rising to a "Fab Four"  level of popularity amongst bluechip recruits across America, the recently completed USC Trojans' Magical Mystery Recruiting Tour still glows as Trojan fans and national recruiting gurus continue to scream, "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah", with the Cardinal and Gold's signing of 14 prep All-Americans  and three junior college All-Americans.

 

The Not So Obvious – Nearly a week after signing day, coach Pete Carroll and his relentless staff, headed by recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron, have college football experts and fans stunned with a two-year total of 31 high school All-Americans, including 10 Parade All-Americans. At this torrid pace, future Trojan opponents may be looking at a "Hard Day's Night", both on and off the field.

 

The Obvious – Not since the days of John McKay has a Trojan staff shown such complete relentless pursuit and zeal for the nation's "Holy Grail" of high school and community college talent.

 

The Not So Obvious - You know these USC coaches means business when they continue to use a private plane to go to such off away outposts as Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Toledo, Ohio, and New Brunswick, New Jersey. You can bet the late John McKay and Marv Goux would have been impressed at the intense drive and methods of Pete Carroll and his super staff.

 

The Obvious – So masterful was this 2004 recruiting motherload that Trojan fans have enjoyed the lively discussion on which of the highly-acclaimed five-stars is the most valuable.

 

The Not So Obvious – According to CollegeJersey.com, the jerseys worn in the U. S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio by Trojan Parade All-Americans Jeff Byers (No. 53), Keith Rivers (No. 55), and Jeff Schweiger (No. 54) are being sold for $499 each. This is ceiling price for all the available participating players. 

 

The Obvious – The Trojans open their 2004 season in the BCA Classic in late August against Virginia Tech in the Washington D.C. area.

 

The Not So Obvious – For the moment, forget about the attractive East Coast match with the Hokies. With the Trojans the current media darlings of college football, Pete Carroll will gladly use the BCA Classic to kickoff the 2005 recruiting season to adoring prep stars along the Atlantic seaboard and on ESPN.

 

The Obvious – This current Trojan staff is a throwback to the McKay days when the Silver Fox would attack recruiting like Carroll's staff is doing in the present.

 

The Not So Obvious – The problem now for future Trojan recruiting rivals is can they keep the up the pace with Carroll and company? Admitting for public consumption that he had already sent out letters to NEXT year's recruiting class, Carroll said, "I just love the competition!"  It's also apparent that Carroll's staff also loves "the chase" of these recruiting beauty contests. Midwest recruiting guru Tom Lemming recently informed, "They  (USC) have an edge over everyone else with personality and commitment."

 

The Obvious – In the old days, there was the old recruiting adage amongst college football coaches which said, "Never get into a recruiting battle with USC or Notre Dame."

 

The Not So Obvious – Well, the Fighting Irish have fallen on their shillelagh in recent times, but the Trojans have returned to the kingpins of college football recruiting by plucking the cream of the crop from Ohio, Florida, New Jersey, and Colorado. Already future national stud recruits like Scottsdale, Arizona defensive tackle Ekom Udofia (6-2, 270) have already listed SC as the team to beat next fall.

 

The Obvious – For a couple of Trojan recruits like New Jersey Parade All-America wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett and Pomona defensive star Eugene Germany, their final college destination didn't come until signing day, perhaps even switching college choices by the hour.

 

The Not So Obvious –Late last Tuesday evening before Wednesday's national signing day, the New Brunswick Courier News' Internet Wednesday Preview wrote, "Today her (Camille Jarrett) son signs a binding National Letter of Intent to play college football the next four years. Though she wouldn't tip her hand (before Dwayne's varsity basketball game), word in the gym (on Tuesday) was that her son was probably going to pick Ohio State over Southern California."  Surprise!

 

The Obvious -The Trojans' 2004 recruiting class is unanimously ranked No. 1 by the five accepted recruiting institutions, a clear indication that the Trojans' success of the past two years on the field is paying off in huge recruiting dividends.

 

The Not So Obvious – In a poll of 60 players that performed in the recent Senior Bowl, the Mobile Register asked the participants if they could pick any school other than their own for a second college career, whom would they choose? A large number selected USC right behind leader Miami, and most would have wanted to play for coach Pete Carroll.

 

The Obvious - The Trojans signed Loveland, Colorado OL Jeff Byers (6-3, 275, 4.8) ranked nationally in the Top 100 by The Insiders (#1)), ESPN (#5), and Rivals (#20).

 

The Not So Obvious – There is not much that is not obvious with Byers. In person, the kid looks like a junior in college. He has more awards than Tom Hanks, and he is the closest to a clone of the intense Brad Budde, the former Trojan All-America guard. If you saw the U.S. Army All-America game, you saw center Byers pull to his right, trap the defensive end, opening a hole for a long scoring run by Trojan recruit Adrian Peterson, who honored his commit to Oklahoma. It will not surprise if Byers is eventually moved from center to guard for offensive line coach Tim Davis. One local high school coach who saw the kid in person said, " Oh my. You got to be kiddin me! What a specimen!"

 

 

The Obvious - The Trojans sign Toledo Rogers, Ohio WR Fred Davis (6-4, 215, 4.5) ranked nationally in the Top 100 by The Insiders (#16), Rivals (#19), and ESPN (#20).

 

The Not So Obvious – A cloak and dagger recruiting story worthy of a Ian Fleming James Bond novel, Davis is enrolled and ready for spring ball and suddenly the Trojan Huddle, the spring game, becomes a headliner event. Playing for a Toledo Rogers' team that was only 3-7 on the year, it was AFTER he caught the ball when he was the most dangerous. On film, the kid is a monster – a man amongst boys. The man-child even rushed for 580 yards as a breakaway running back. With respect to former Trojan linebacker Marcus Steele, Davis is the most heralded Ohio recruit since former Trojan All-America defensive tackle Gary Jeter, who hailed from Cleveland. On one recruiting day, Davis had 278 messages on his answering machine. The kid made All-Ohio Division 2 first-team as a defensive back, where he had 70 tackles and three interceptions.

 

The Obvious – The Trojans sign former Paso Robles offensive lineman Travis Draper (6-5, 265, a past Tacoma Tribune Western Top 100 selection. 

 

The Not So Obvious – If there is one player in this class that is looking at hindsight, it is Draper. Originally a UCLA fan, the kid must be thinking what if he had signed with UCLA? He has family that attended USC, so they must all breathing a sigh of relief. Kid has grown an inch since he committed last year and comes in physically stronger than originally reported.

 

The Obvious - The Trojans sign Pomona LB/DL Eugene Germany (6-4, 260, 4.7), ranked nationally in the Top 100 by ESPN (#86) and Rivals (#86).

 

The Not So Obvious – In another era, the Trojans would have lost this kid to Michigan. Voila! A national championship and a No. 1 ranking keeps this kid from leaving SoCal and puts him in a position to be the "next" Wild Bunch applicant, although he will start his career as a linebacker. A tremendous motor and intensity, the kid did not make All-CIF, which shows you how little being All-CIF means these days. Even Dick Lascola, the skeptical, old recruiting service master, has whispered to associates how impressed he was with Germany's future.

 

 The Obvious - The Trojans sign Los Angeles Fremont OL Thomas Herring (6-6, 315, 5.5), ranked nationally in the Top 100 by Rivals (#23), Insiders (#51), and ESPN (#70).

 

The Not So Obvious - Herring has spent so much time on the Trojans' practice field, it would be no wonder the NCAA charges him with a year of freshman eligibility. A former basketball player during his freshman year at Monrovia High, Herring was a recruiting battle for the Trojans to earn the trust of his mother. In typical Trojan home visit style, Herring's mother gave the Trojans the "All-Clear" after an "audience" with the Trojan coaching brass. Will get a look at defensive end with coach "O", but most figure he will be moved on to offensive tackle and a future Sunday career. The surprise here may be that he DOES stay on defense with more natural athletic ability than Trojan All-America defensive end Kenechi Udeze.

 

The Obvious - The Trojans sign Playa Del Rey St. Bernard QB Rocky Hinds (6-4, 225, 4.5), ranked nationally in the Top 100 by ESPN (#16).

 

The Not So Obvious – So how many kids get a full ride to USC without ever taking a snap their senior year? ACL Rocky Hinds, that's who! Depending on whom you talk with, the kid is either the second coming of Vince Evans, the former late blooming Trojan quarterback star, or the second coming of Jason Thomas, the former Trojan and UNLV disappointment. If potential is defined as unproven talent, Hinds certainly comes to SC with intrigue. However, it is known that Norm Chow is extremely excited with the idea of building Hinds up from the ground floor as a project and meshing the marvelous athletic skill into one of Norm's assembly line signal-callers. The young "Jedi" signal-caller and the "Yoda of college football" will be a story to follow.

 

The Obvious – The Trojans sign New Brunswick, New Jersey WR Dwayne Jarrett (6-5, 195, 4.4) ranked nationally in the Top 100 by The Insiders (#38), Rivals (#44), and ESPN (#97).

 

The Not So Obvious – You know the Trojans are "back" when they again start getting players from the Garden State. During the Trojans' previous reign of football terror, New Jersey provided the Cardinal and Gold with the late Rich Dimler, the nasty defensive tackle from Bayonne, receiver brothers Lonnie and Timmy White from South Delmar, and All-America linebacker Richard Wood from Elizabeth. A stellar basketball player (24 pt. average), Jarrett is a talent's talent. In the U.S. Army All-America game, Jarrett made Keyshawn Johnson-style leaping catches over the middle and may prove to be the perfect compliment to Fred Davis. For Trojan fans that have long waited for the electric punt returner, Jarrett returned five punts for scores and "averaged" 48 yards on 15 returns.

 

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Long Beach Poly WR Derrick Jones (6-2, 180, 4.3) ranked nationally in the Top 100 by The Insiders (#52) and ESPN (#55).

 

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps the biggest benefactor with Cameron Colvin's commit to the Oregon Nikes is Derrick Jones. If quarterback recruit Rocky Hinds is Vince Evans or Jason Thomas, then Derrick Jones could be considered either the next Edesel Garrison (there's one for the old folks) or Stan Guyness. On pure athletic ability, Jones speed is well publicized and the main attraction for any college program. The kid will be pushed brutally by a stable of Trojan prep All-Americans like never before, and it will be of great interest to see his development and maturity. In the current WeAreSC.com interview of Jones by our own Johnny Curren, the kid seems to have the challenge in perspective.

 

The Obvious - The Trojans sign Snow College, Utah OL Taitusi Latui (6-6, 370, 5.1) ranked nationally by JC Gridwire (#1).

 

The Not So Obvious – In person, Latui blots out the sun. In fact, in some ways he makes departing Trojan All-America tackle Jacob Rogers look like a wide receiver. Considered by many the premiere player in community college, he is being touted as Rogers' eventual replacement at left tackle. The big Tongan is related to BYU freshman Ofa Mohetau, the former Texas schoolboy All-American that most felt was the nation's best high school offensive lineman in 2003.

 

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Long Beach CC OL Alatini Malu (6-5, 340), a 2003 All-Mission Conference first-team selection as a freshman.

 

The Not So Obvious – Just take one look at this fella and this is somebody you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley. Maybe it's the fact that he is a bit older having gone on a Mormon mission, this former Cal St. Northridge signee is said to be on par with another Long Beach City star, John Drake, who figures to start if he can make it back from injury. You gotta love the nickname "Tiny" for a man that certainly isn't. Another brute for coach Tim "Mass Kicks Ass" Davis' offensive line menagerie.

 

The Obvious – The Trojans sign La Quinta DT Lawrence Miles (6-3, 270, 4.8), a Tacoma New Tribune Western 100 selection.

 

The Not So Obvious – Another product of the Trojan summer football camp system, it's hard to believe that this kid just turned 17. We'll let Garry P. tell his fascinating how-Miles-was-found story, but we will say that the Lawrence Miles addition represents another Trojan-closing of the Inland Empire border for those leaving the state for villainous gridiron outposts.

 

The Obvious  - The Trojans sign Westlake TE/DE Jimmy Miller (6-5, 230, 4.7), a Tacoma New Tribune Western 100 selection.

 

The Not So Obvious – A future Shaun Cody in the making? Like Cody, he also played tight end and has the speed that sends chills down Ed Orgeron's aggressive spine. Depending on how his body develops mass, the first couple of years will decided if this kid goes inside like Cody or competes at defensive end. One of those interchangeable players that Carroll loves.

 

The Obvious - The Trojans sign Oxnard Hueneme DB Josh Pinkard (6-1, 200, 4.4), a Tacoma News Tribune Western 100 selection.

 

The Not So Obvious – Probably the least heralded of this incomparable class, but perhaps as important as anybody. Considering that Pinkard is the only prep defensive back taken, the kid becomes an item.  The Trojans are in deep need for future secondary help and Pinkard will certainly get his opportunities. Though he played safety at Hueneme, he figures to be given a corner look.

 

The Obvious - The Trojans sign Saddleback College LB Ryan Powdrell (6-1, 250, 4.6), a JC Athletic Bureau All-American first-team selection.

 

The Not So Obvious – Now here's a football player. Those in Orange County have not forgotten his brute force as both a fullback and linebacker for Mission Viejo and gregarious coach Bob Johnson. Put him at fullback for Lou Holtz at South Carolina and the kid is Jerome Bettis. Put him at linebacker at USC and he is a potential starter on the probable No. 1 team in the nation. For the old timers, reminds us of '72 linebacker Charles Anthony but with speed.

 

The Obvious - The Trojans sign Compton Dominguez OL Chilo Rachal (6-6, 310, 5.1), ranked nationally in the Top 100 by ESPN (#96).

 

The Not So Obvious – It would be safe to say that Chilo was increasingly aware of the talent competition when he had second thoughts about coming to USC. He made a trip to Cal after saying he was done with recruiting. Give the kid credit for accepting the competition challenge. He wants to play left guard and Carroll and Davis said, "Go for it."  Frighteningly quick on the basketball court for Russell Otis' Dominguez club, Rachal presents versatility, a current Trojan offensive line trademark.

 

The Obvious - The Trojans signed Orlando St. Mary, Florida LB Keith Rivers  (6-3, 220, 4.5) ranked nationally in the Top 100 by Rivals (#5), ESPN (#8), and The Insiders (#12).

 

The Not So Obvious – If you have waited near a generation for the second coming of Richard Wood, the former Trojan All-American linebacker and NFL performer, your wait may be over. The same size as Wood coming out of high school with near the same speed, Rivers' military family maturity (father served at March Air Force Base) is even more impressive than his physical prowess. Seen on recruiting guru Jamie Newberg's Fox recruiting show in the Southeast, Rivers and his deep voice came off as a college senior in his critical thinking skills and poise. Simply put – a man.

 

The Obvious – The Trojans sign San Jose Valley Christian DE Jeff Schweiger (6-4, 250, 4.6) ranked nationally in the Top 100 by Rivals (#9), The Insiders (#13), and ESPN (#29).

 

The Not So Obvious – If you are into the awesome beauty of an attacking defensive end upon the quarterback, Jeff Schweiger is your "exploding off the edge" guy. In almost all highlights of this kid, the ones that stick out were his sacks and pressure of the East quarterbacks in the U.S. Army All-American Game in San Antonio. Going around Michigan-bound tackle Jeremy Cuilla and South Carolina-bound James Thompson with ease, Schweiger served notice that Trojan fans and foes will see this San Jose native in Coliseum action next fall. The only question will be can he handle a point-of-attack rushing game directed at him? 

 

The Obvious - The Trojans sign Westlake WR/DE Michael Stuart (6-5, 215, 4.8), a Tacoma New Tribune Western 100 selection.

 

The Not So Obvious – A two-way performer, it seemed that every ball thrown his way was caught, something that fits right into Norm Chow's grand scheme of things. It would appear with a defensive end mentality, Stuart could grow into a tight end and bolster the Trojans' skill at that position, both blocking and receiving. Trojan fans saw last season that you can't have too many tight ends, especially when it comes to the injury bug.

 

The Obvious - The Trojans signed Corona Santiago TE Dale Thompson (6-4, 227, 4.9), a Tacoma News Tribune Western 100 selection.

 

The Not So Obvious – Thompson was one of those Trojan recruits who relished the thought of playing at home. The kid said, " I think it's real exciting to have a program like USC to be part of here, where your parents and family can come to the Coliseum and watch you play." Gaining weight may be this kid's biggest challenge.

 

The Obvious - The Trojans sign Santa Rosa CC DB Scott Ware (6-2, 220, 4.4)), a JC All-America first-team selection.

 

The Not So Obvious – Ware is the big version of Trojans' lethal linebacker Matt Grootegoed. On film this kid is so much like Grootegoed that it's downright scary. Ware is a human Weapon of Mass Destruction. For those that have played the great game of football, Ware tackles "through" the ball carrier. Watching Ware hit is like watching a tomato meeting a vegamatic. He slices and dices anybody that enters his area. Not convinced? Better get one of those recruiting highlight videos and see for yourself, but don't eat 24 hours prior to viewing.

 

 The Obvious – Trojan football recruiting under Pete Carroll and staff has gotten to the point where recruits are now being sold on a proven commodity and competition, as opposed to futuristic visions and a thin roster of talent.

 

The Not So Obvious – Aside from the players whose commitments to Troy were re-routed to other universities due to academics or injury, the Trojans program now appeals to a different type of athlete – the one that embraces competition and has no fear of failure. With Trojan recruits like Jeff Byers, named the first lineman in 20 years as Parade Magazine's National Player of the Year, future recruits will be asked the old John McKay closer recruiting question –"Son, do you think you're good enough to play at the University?"

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