O/NSO - Graduation edition

Spring graduation brings the excitement of summer surf from Malibu to San Onofre, but the biggest and most imposing wave appears to be rapidly approaching from Tampa, Florida, as "former" USC Trojan All-America wide receiver Mike Williams appears ready, willing, but not yet able to again Hang Ten on the gridiron grass of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Obvious - Spring graduation brings the excitement of summer surf from Malibu to San Onofre, but the biggest and most imposing wave appears to be rapidly approaching from Tampa, Florida, as "former" USC Trojan All-America wide receiver Mike Williams appears ready, willing, but not yet able to again Hang Ten on the gridiron grass of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Not So Obvious – With the Trojan athletic department waxing down Williams' eligibility surfboard, it's now up to the NCAA not to turn Mike's return into a Trojan wipeout. Williams' Tuesday radio announcement was both USC thrilling and NCAA chilling at the same time. Big One wants to play Trojan football but gives no quarter that he got NFL screwed and would apply to "The League" again given a second opportunity. With little mention of continuing his education towards a degree as a priority, it will be intriguing if the pious NCAA plays the "education card" on Williams and ends his USC amateur status.

The Obvious – You have to admire Mike Williams' honesty with "Petros" on the air, but before Kid Touchdown can return, the NCAA must make a ruling on his academic and monetary status.

The Not So Obvious – You can bet that all eyes will be on Williams and the Trojans if the NCAA grants Mike's wish to return to BMOC status. The classes and number of units will be media inspected, and it will be in the best interest of all concerned that Mike, even if his heart isn't in it, attends all his classes and gives the "illusion" that he is "playing" the academic game. Should Williams not attend classes or take "academic" classes, you can bet the NCAA will not be as kind to the"next" Mike Williams.

The Obvious – The final decision on Mike Williams may be one of the NCAA's toughest calls. This is not just a NCAA sports decision, but a monumental college football decision.

The Not So Obvious – College basketball has suffered undeniably with the loss of its high school prodigies and early-exit freshmen to the NBA, and you can bet the NCAA and college presidents may have learned from their basketball experience not to let the same thing happen in the money world of college football. "Saving" Williams may be an attempt by all concerned to keep the gridiron floodgates from opening prematurely.

The Obvious – The Trojans established attendance records thanks to a glorious national championship season.

The Not So Obvious – The biggest off-the-field winner of a Mike Williams return will be the Trojans' marketing and season ticket department. Williams' return will only enhance the turnstiles at the Coliseum and could 80,000 per be the norm?

The Obvious – Mike Williams wore No. 1 during his past two championship seasons with the nationally ranked Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – Unlike some other sensitive issues relating to uniform numbers, there is no current Trojan on the 2004 roster that has been assigned Williams' "old" number. Whew! Big hurdle passed there! Don't need another uniform number scandal.

The Obvious – The first week of June delivers the first wave of college football magazines and this figures to titillate the juices of all Trojan football fans.

The Not So Obvious – Athlon national and regional arrived this week, and the Trojans are number one and quarterback Matt Leinart is the coverboy on both. Street and Smith Football Magazine will again feature regional covers and Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart and quarterback "guru" Norm Chow share the cover. In all of Street and Smith's regional covers in the upper right hand portion is a small picture of a Trojan and "Guess Who's Number One?" In the regional cover with Leinart and Chow, there is a picture of Pete Carroll with the same ranking question.

The Obvious – One of the fun parts of summer is the upcoming all-star games beginning with the 54rd Shrine Game at Mt. San Antonio College on June 26, which will feature a number of "future" Trojans in a Public versus Private School format.

The Not So Obvious – The one Trojan that figures to receive the biggest inspection by fans at Mt. Sac and those watching on Fox Sports West will be St Bernard quarterback Rocky Hinds, who did not play last season due to a torn right knee ligament. Hinds will help lead the Private School squad. Other future Trojans in the game include linebacker Eugene Germany, lineman Thomas Herring, wide receiver Derrick Jones, defensive back Josh Pinkard, and tight end Dale Thompson.

The Obvious – The latest Heisman Trophy winner for the Trojans is Cincinnati Bengal quarterback Carson Palmer.

The Not So Obvious – Palmer will be inducted into the Shrine Hall of Fame at halftime of the June 26th game. Other Trojans in the Shrine Hall of Fame include Chuck Arrobio, Ricky Bell, Pete Bethard, Willie Brown, Sam Cunningham, Anthony Davis, Craig Fertig, Mike Garrett, Pat Haden, John Jackson, Rod McNeill, Manfred Moore, John Papadakis, C.R. Roberts, Rod Sherman, and Ernie Zampese.

The Obvious – The 45th Brea Lions Orange County All-Star Game, which normally has USC-bound stars on an annual basis, appeared to be lacking any Trojans for this year's game slated for July 9 at Santa Ana Municipal Stadium, normally played at Orange Coast College.

The Not So Obvious - At the recent Orange County All-Star Game banquet at the Brea Community Center, it was announced that Foothill High receiver Brad Walker (6-2, 205), whose mother is the sister of graduated Trojan center Norm Katnik and current tight end Kurt Katnik, will be a Trojan walk-on this fall.

The Obvious – Trojan prep All-Americans Keith Rivers and Jeff Byers arrived on campus this week.

The Not So Obvious – Earlier this week, a large group of Orange County high school students came to Heritage Hall and ran into Florida linebacker Keith Rivers, who was happy to show the adoring group the Trojans' weight room. One junior student remarked, "You've got to be kidding me. This guy just graduated ahead of me?" Of course when Colorado center Jeff Byers strutted across the main Heritage Hall trophy display floor, females from the same high school found their jaws dropping at the blond and blue eyes of the Gatorade National Player of the Year.

The Obvious – For all his Trojan football accomplishments, Pete Carroll may be the most fan friendly coach any USC supporter will ever meet.

The Not So Obvious – That same high school contingent from central Orange County was given Carroll's personal blessing to tour the main upstairs Trojan football office as Carroll was about to begin a closed door conference meeting with his staff. The students were especially impressed with the Trojans' "new" locker style waiting room layout, housing the pro uniforms of Trojans in the NFL. Equally impressive was the wall of Sports Illustrated covers of Trojans down through the years.

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Matt Leinart figures to be the coverboy for most of the national magazines.

The Not So Obvious – Leinart will be more than happy to share some cover space if it means that Mike Williams will be a Trojan this fall. Of course it's doubtful Matt would have given up his spot on the Playboy spot for a Williams return.

The Obvious – Trojan fans love to read the college football magazines and see how many of their heroes make a pre-season squad.

The Not So Obvious – In the just out Athlon 2004 All-America selections, defensive lineman Shaun Cody and Reggie Bush made first-team honors. Bush was named as a kick returner. Second unit selections included quarterback Matt Leinart and punter Tom Malone. Third teamers named were defensive lineman Mike Patterson, linebacker Matt Grootegoed, and defensive back Darnell Bing. For all you Leinart fans, Oklahoma quarterback was named ahead of the Trojans' lefty.

The Obvious – The potential return of Williams would also mean a boon for the Trojans' running game that features likes of Hershel Dennis, Reggie Bush, and LenDale White.

The Not So Obvious – The valuable production of Dennis and White has been well documented here and on the field, but Trojan players will tell you that Reggie Bush is the most difficult to corral in practice.

The Obvious – The Trojans have moved their away game at BYU from September 4th to September 18th.

The Not So Obvious – For those Trojan fans that have already spent bucks and frequent Flyer miles on a September 4th game, take a deep breath and know that the change is better for the Trojan football team. This will mark the first time the Trojans have made two ESPN national appearances in the same season. Might ESPN Gameday make their presence felt twice at a Trojans' game?

The Obvious – Trojan quarterback Mike McDonald was taken in by Newport Beach's finest with an alleged DUI, which brought headlines in Southland papers.

The Not So Obvious – While McDonald, son of former Trojan All-America quarterback Paul, is way down the depth chart, Pete Carroll has repeatedly reminded his probable No. 1 team that all eyes are squarely focused on the Trojans with their return to the national stage. The fact that McDonald was even given ink shows the depth of scrutiny the Trojans now command.

The Obvious – Senior tight end Gregg Guenther will not return to the Trojans this fall to concentrate on basketball.

The Not So Obvious – Anybody who says the Trojans have enough depth with the return of Alex Holmes and Dominique Byrd have forgotten why Guenther was starting in the Rose Bowl against Michigan. You NEVER have enough depth at any position in the football.

The Obvious – A number of Trojans are enrolled in summer school and need to come up to speed in order to be ready for the fall.

The Not So Obvious – While a couple of names could surprise, it doesn't figure to put a crimp in Pete Carroll's club when they return as a group in early August. Those needing summer schooling are all expected to be available come training camp.

The Obvious – The Trojans had the nation's number one recruiting class last spring.

The Not So Obvious – One of those players was receiver Fred Davis from Toledo, Ohio, who had a chance to gain some valuable experience having come to Troy last spring semester. However, due to injury and the adjustment to college ball, that advantage may have been negated, and the heralded freshman from Buckeye country will be back to square one in competition when the heralded Dwayne Jarrett from New Brunswick, New Jersey, makes his Los Angeles appearance. Interesting enough, Davis had more yards rushing (600-plus) than receiving (500-plus) his senior year and received local honors and state honors on defense.

The Obvious – The Trojans list sophomore Ryan Kalil as the starting center coming into fall camp.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans under Coach Tim Davis have always tried to put the five best linemen on the field. It should come as no shock that Kalil holds his own despite the competition from incoming sensation Jeff Byers. It says here that Byers is not a set-in-stone starting center in the future. On the contrary, Byers greatness may turn out to be at guard and that is good for Byers, Kalil, and Trojan quarterbacks and running backs.

The Obvious – While it doesn't figure that middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu will be supplanted from his starting spot anytime soon, it could get interesting with the arrival of Saddleback College linebacker Ryan Powdrell, the 2003 J.C. Grid-Wire All-American.

The Not So Obvious – Much like Jeff Byers on offense, Powdrell, a former standout fullback at Mission Viejo High, could see action on the outside because of his impressive speed at 250 pounds. Powdrell is the kind of interchangeable part that Pete Carroll loves to tinker with and about.

The Obvious – It appears the Trojans are already at the head of the class for blue-chip Mission Viejo quarterback Mark Sanchez, Eureka linebacker Rey Muauluaga, Long Beach Poly receiver Desean Jackson, and Scottsdale, Arizona, defensive lineman Ekom Udofia.

The Not So Obvious – All those mentioned above are headliners in most of the upcoming national publications and did we mention Lakewood linebackers Luther Brown and Adrian McCovey? Should the Trojans live up to expectations on the field, Cardinal and Gold fans will be punch-drunk again in recruiting delirium.

The Obvious – The Trojans are again putting a stranglehold on California's top recruits, and we haven't even finished with June.

The Not So Obvious – A favorite here is the emergence of Fresno Bullard offensive lineman Nick Howell, whom many are saying is now the premier OL in California. The son of former Trojan All-America Pat Howell, Nick was mentioned here long before his current rise to current recruiting prominence. Here's hoping he realizes his dream of following in is father's path. Howell gets another chance to compete in a couple of weeks at another Trojan camp in front of coaches Davis and Carroll. No rooting in the press box, but ya can't help a silent legacy cheer in Howell's case.

The Obvious – One of the biggest games of the Trojan season will be a Pac-10 home contest October 9th against the California Bears.

The Not So Obvious – It is a bit curious that no television start time or station has been announced, although television has already given Trojan game times for Virginia Tech (ESPN/4:45 PM PT), Colorado State (ABC/ 5:00 PM PT), at BYU (ESPN/7:00 PM PT), at Stanford (TBS/ 4:00 PM PT) at Washington State (ABC/ 4:00 PM PT), Arizona (FSN/ 7:15 PM PT) Notre Dame (ABC/5:00 PM PT), and at UCLA (ABC/ 1:30 PM PT).

The Obvious – So like expectant fathers waiting in the football maternity ward, USC and its legion of fans must now nervously wait word out of Indianapolis for an NCAA "delivery" announcement on the final outcome of the Mike Williams' rebirth.

The Not So Obvious – And if you think that USC fans are nervous, imagine all those defensive backs and coordinators across America that are contemplating No. 1's possible return. You can bet that Virginia Tech and coach Frank Beamer is first in line hoping that Mike Williams will not be coming out of the tunnel come August 28th in Landover, Maryland, especially in a cardinal and gold uniform.

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