O/NSO - Evaluation edition

As the final week of the Pete Carroll USC Trojan Club Tour entertained gatherings in Pasadena and Irvine, evaluations, offers, and a verbal were falling into place with the USC head coach and his staff uncovering a number of "nuggets" last weekend in the Trojans skills and linemen camps.

The Obvious – As the final week of the Pete Carroll USC Trojan Club Tour entertained gatherings in Pasadena and Irvine, evaluations, offers, and a verbal were falling into place with the USC head coach and his staff uncovering a number of "nuggets" last weekend in the Trojans skills and linemen camps.

The Not So Obvious – Between racing from support groups to skills camps to this weekend's Trojans Adult Fantasy Camp, the 54-year-old Carroll seems to be have the physical stamina of Reggie Bush and LenDale White combined. Thursday night at the Irvine Marriott, the head coach delighted guests with the energy of a 19-year-old as Trojan alums and friends mentally turned back the enthusiasm clock to fly with the Peter Pan of college football for a two hour excursion into cardinal and gold Neverland.

The Obvious – When Pete Carroll comes to speak, the masses come to listen, a far cry from three years ago, according to regulars, when only a fourth of a ballroom was barely full.

The Not So Obvious – Close to 700 Trojan faithful crammed into the main ballroom at the Irvine Marriott on an evening that saw a social hour that included a silent auction of two separate sets of tickets to this year's Notre Dame game (one hour before the time limit the bid level was at $700), two field passes for the Fresno St. game ($750 with one hour remaining), and a miniature version of the 2005 ADT national championship trophy ($150 with 60 minutes left on the clock). There was also your standard raffle with televisions, golf equipment with the SC logo attached and various Trojan accessories.

The Obvious – With Anthony Davis among some of the former Trojan footballers that turned out in Irvine, Carroll touched on last season, talked about spring ball, and gave a glimpse into the future by fielding questions from fans in attendance.

The Not So Obvious – While there was a number of tidbits but no headline grabbing news on Thursday night, you still had to see Carroll "work the room" with his boyish enthusiasm to really get a feel for this type of evening. Carroll appeared to hit every table in a "press the flesh" and photo-op session certainly as good as any political candidate. The thing that sets this guy apart from the others in his profession is his ability to make each person feel that they are his next door neighbor. Even his presentation from the podium seems to be one on one. The $60 a plate evening, which featured a cajon-style chicken which many said was as hot as Tempe in August, was a fine combination of the head coach, a nine piece unit of the Trojan Marching Band, video highlights, and a 2005 schedule poster as Trojan fans descended into the Irvine evening.

The Obvious – Diehard Trojan went scurrying for their Class of 2006 recruiting lists as unknown names began surfacing from last weekend's skills and linemen camps on the various Trojan athletic fields.

The Not So Obvious –Unless you looked long and hard with those lists, you might not have uncovered the likes of DT Matangi Tonga, DE Alex Parsons, QB/DB Bobby Guillory, and even the more publicized OT Zack Heberer. These are names that are now part of the Trojan recruiting landscape and figure to be right up to signing day in February.

The Obvious – While San Pedro offensive tackle Zack Heberer came away with a "ride" from Pete Carroll after last Sunday's lineman camp, Trojan fans will want to follow the recruiting paths of defensive linemen Matangi Tonga of San Mateo Aragon and Alex Parsons of Irvine Woodbridge, both of whom could very well be part of the Pete Carroll and Lane Kiffin master plan.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO viewed both players as extremely fast and strong, and Parsons, who has now received a Trojan offer, more than held his own against Trojan verbal Heberer, who admitted as much after last weekend. In fact, Heberer even expected that Parsons would get an offer. Little did the touted San Pedro offensive tackle know that the blond Woodbridge Warrior had gotten an offer on Sunday as well. As for Tonga, he was virtually unblockable. While this kid was a well-known commodity in NoCal, Parsons seems to have come out of nowhere.

The Obvious – As mentioned, one of the most impressive performances at the linemen camp was by Aragon High's Matangi Tonga (6-2, 250).

The Not So Obvious – Explosive with a super quick first step, Tonga had 25 tackles for losses this past season and nine sacks, so Sunday's camp performance was apparently not out of the ordinary. In the San Jose Mercury, Aragon coach Steve Sell said, " He's the most dominant player we've ever had." Matangi was the Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division Defensive Player of the Year, having played strong-side defensive end. Our Allen Wallace has reported that Tonga has the Trojans well ahead of the recruiting pack and is awaiting an offer.

The Obvious – As expected, San Pedro offensive tackle Zack Heberer was tendered an offer at the lineman camp and Big Zack elected to accept on the spot on Sunday afternoon.

The Not So Obvious – Heberer, who could also be ticketed for a future offensive guard slot, probably helped define Woodbridge High's Alex Parsons (6-4 1/2, 260), who made a huge statement to DL coach Jethro Franklin and Pete Carroll. Parsons, whose brother, P.Jay, is at Kentucky, had veteran observers comparing his strength and speed to current Trojan DE Jeff Schweiger. This kid, who runs like a deer and can truly "bring it," recently told Scout.com's Allen Wallace that the Trojans currently have the upper hand in recruiting. However, this one could still turn into a classic Trojan/Bruins recruiting confrontation. For the record, Woodbridge HS is generally considered an "SC" school. It also looks like the Parsons' offer eliminates the first "Would Coach Orgeron have given this kid a ride?" hindsighter.

The Obvious – Sunday's camp gave veteran observers a chance to watch new offensive line coach Pat Ruel and defensive line coach Jethro Franklin interact with the campers.

The Not So Obvious – While Ruel continued to demonstrate an intense teaching of fundamentals, it was Franklin that stole the show with a real upgrade of sustained emotion not seen during spring ball. Jethro, who was reportedly quite moved by the Wild Bunch statue in front of Heritage Hall after working out recently, honed a speech to the campers that had the youngsters screaming "Wild Bunch" as he gave a history of the famed defensive linemen from 1969. An emotional Franklin said, " These guys were the five baddest dudes on one team (campers yell ‘Wild Bunch') and each one was an All-American at the same time (campers yell ‘Wild Bunch'). How special is it to be a Trojan lineman (campers yell ‘Real Special')?" Franklin finished by screaming "SC" and the campers replied "Wild Bunch.!" Franklin then yelled, "How Special?" and the campers replied louder "Real Special!" The Ed Orgeron torch, Trojan fans, may have just been passed.

The Obvious – Vallejo two-way performer Bobby Guillory (5-9, 173, 4.4) was presented with an offer from the Trojans after his performance at last Saturday's skills camp.

The Not So Obvious – Guillory, who plays quarterback and defensive back, threw a nice tight spiral on Saturday, but you couldn't help but get the impression the Trojan staff may having been thinking another Justin Wyatt, who also played QB and DB while at Compton Dominguez. Looks like the Trojans will be battling Idaho and former Trojan linebacker coach Nick Holt for Guillory's services due to a "wildlife" major issue. Speaking of wildlife, it was a bad Duck week for Oregon, who just lost out on Trojan verbal Zack Heberer and could suffer the same fate with Guillory.

The Obvious – Besides Bobby Guillory, a number of quarterback hopefuls were displaying their skills to coaches Steve Sarkisian and Lane Kiffin on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – One quarterback who dropped by the proceedings was incoming freshman signal-caller Mark Sanchez, who came up to campus with members of his family, to get his living quarters assignment squared away in preparation for summer school.

The Obvious – The skills camp also featured Bishop Amat linebacker Jon Cornell, who was hoping to catch the eye of linebacker coach Ken Norton.

The Not So Obvious – It appeared that Cornell may have made some headway in achieving his goal of an offer from the Trojans. The kid seems to be improving each time he has had an opportunity to display his talents in front of the Trojan coaching staff.

The Obvious – Joe Schrimpl is USC director of video operations for Trojan athletics.

The Not So Obvious – If you were a visitor at the Trojan camps last weekend and wanted some inside info on just whom Pete Carroll and staff were targeting, all you needed to do was follow Schrimpl and his video camera. Schrimpl, who is beginning his sixth summer at Troy, had the camera rolling for selected players and match-ups. Don't expect this tape to make into your Trojan sports video library.

The Obvious - UCLA verbal Brandon Bennett, a massive offensive tackle from Bishop Amat, was one of the linemen participants on Sunday.

The Not So Obvious – Bennett told the O/NSO that he wanted to "explore all his options" by coming to the USC lineman camp. The well-spoken kid also informed us that he has watched tape of the great Amat teams of Pat Haden/J.K. McKay, two of USC's all-timers, a number of times.

The Obvious – UCLA verbal Jake Dean from Lancaster Paraclete was in attendance at the lineman camp.

The Not So Obvious – Although Dean did not participate due to a broken nose, he was able to play a round of catch with Pete Carroll during a break in the action. Ya have to admit, Carroll still throws a tight spiral, although he's no Matt Leinart.

The Obvious – Close to four hundred high school hopefuls attended the Trojans Skills Camp last Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – There is nothing more promotional than hearing those youngsters breaking huddles with "Fight On", "Trojans", and "SC". While chances were slim that there would be a Trojan scholarships offer, it was still a thrill for most these players to being wearing a Trojan Camp T-shirt and getting a pat on the back from the head man and words of encouragement from his staff.

The Obvious – One of the linebacker in the skills camp that drew attention was Vista's aggressive senior, Travis Goethel (6-3, 220).

The Not So Obvious – According to Goethel's father, the Michigan Wolverines are taking a serious interest at this blond haired North San Diegoian. He reminds the O/NSO of a larger version of former Trojan linebacker Scott Ross.

The Obvious – A number of fathers at the skill's camp looked like former football players themselves.

The Not So Obvious – One that drew the attention of onlookers was Bob West, who played receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs under legendary coach Hank Stram. West, who played at San Diego State under Don Coryell and attended San Diego Lincoln, home of Marcus Allen, was watching his Point Loma High son, Anthony, who while playing WR on Saturday likes the idea of playing strong safety.

The Obvious – If any of the players were under pressure on Saturday, it might have been the kickers, who stayed on the field before the lunch break to try and impress Pete Carroll.

The Not So Obvious – For Notre Dame's Kai Forbath and Bosco's Andrew Aguila, it was probably the most pressure with the least amount of people watching they will ever encounter. Both displayed a big leg but there was nothing in their kicking consistency that made you think a Trojan offer was imminent.

The Obvious – Dorsey running back Stafon Johnson was in attendance on Saturday, but did not perform.

The Not So Obvious – Stafon spent some time with Pete Carroll at the Katherine B. Loker Track Stadium, watching the running backs go through their paces. Although he did not participate, Johnson, who came with his father, continued to show strong interest in the Trojans, a source of relief for those Trojan fans that take "recruiting attendance" at these sort of activities.

The Obvious – A detectable murmur rippled through Saturday's spectators when incoming freshman wide receiver Patrick Turner made his grand 6-5 appearance along with sophomore Dwayne Jarrett.

The Not So Obvious – Standing next to Jarrett, the only response one could make upon seeing "Tennessee" Turner was Dick Enberg's "Oh my!" Turner, who appears taller than Jarrett and with more girth, has to be seen at field level to understand the physical presence of this kid. Call it "hometown provincialism," but the thought of both Turner and Jarrett lined up at some point on the same side of the field will go beyond a secondary's nightmare. Perhaps the happiest Trojan on earth may be smaller WR Steve Smith,who could get one side of the field to himself.

The Obvious – LB Poly receiver Terrence Austin may have picked up some Trojan points with his performance on Saturday.

The Not So Obvious – Onlookers were still talking about his "move" after catching a pass on Saturday. Almost like a grasshopper jumping from one side of a patio to the other, Austin could begin to make people forget DeSean Jackson if he keeps up this pace in the fall. One has to wonder what it will take for Austin to get an offer. In fairness, Virginia's sensational Percy Harvin may be the holdup since Harvin is said to have the Trojans on top of his recruiting list.

The Obvious – A number of fans at the camps recognized the arrival on the field of incoming defensive lineman Kyle Moore from Georgia.

The Not So Obvious – A tall player who will be a true obstacle for immobile opposition quarterbacks, Moore looks like he needs to put on some mass to be a factor in the fall. Of course, he's another speed defender and it will be interesting to see what transpires once he goes up against some of coach Chris Carlisle's well-defined offensive linemen.

The Obvious – The O/NSO had the pleasure last weekend of not only talking to strength and conditiong coach Chris Carlisle about some of his Trojan "products," but some world history as well.

The Not So Obvious – Among the discussion points were Carlisle's praise of junior center Ryan Kalil, who Carlisle says is the Trojans most physical offensive lineman, and his comparisons to some of his conditioning methods to Oriental war philosophies. Without going into too much detail, the highly respected strength coach said the Trojans philosophy of strength and conditioning is different than their competitors in terms of goals and objectives. Let's just say that speed and agility is very important in developing a Trojan athlete for competition. Let's also say the results clearly speak for themselves.

The Obvious – A number of the camp instructors were high school coaches from around the area.

The Not So Obvious – One of the instructors was former Trojan Martin French, who coaches football at Dominguez High, former home of starting Trojan DB Justin Wyatt. During a conversation about an "all-time" Trojan team, French, who played corner for the Trojans in 1985, felt his "all-time" Trojan corners were Antuan Simmons (1997 – 2001) and Brian Kelly (1994 –97). The personable French was a joy to "debate" an all-time team with, and it only shows just how hard it is to agree in such a endless exercise.

The Obvious – Compared to the other college football magazines already released, Phil Steele's College 2005 College Football Preview, which provides compelling evidence it has been the most accurate of all college football magazines in the last six years, is also the most expensive ($8.95, up $1.00 from last year).

The Not So Obvious – Steele's "most accurate" publication pulls no punches when listing the Trojans No.1 in the country ahead of LSU, Purdue, Louisville, and Texas.

The Obvious – Steele's publication also bills itself as the most comprehensive of all the magazines because he claims to write all the team bios himself. He lists his "obvious" Trojan All-Americans in QB Matt Leinart, RB Reggie Bush, SS Darnell Bing, and P Tom Malone.

The Not So Obvious – Steele's All Pac-10 team includes Trojan QB Matt Leinart, RBs LenDalWhite and Reggie Bush, WR Steve Smith, OG Fred Matua, and OT Winston Justice (proving Steele is on top of the game) on offense and DL Lawrence Jackson, SS Darnell Bing and, FS Scott Ware on defense. Yes, punter Tom Malone is also on the first team.

The Obvious – Street & Smith's 2005 Yearbook also hit the stands this week and created the first major upset of the college football season when Trojan All-America running back Reggie Bush graced the cover without any assistance from quarterback Matt Leinart.

The Not So Obvious – Along with a caption next to his name "Bush in '05," this is the first magazine that did not have QB Matt Leinart in his patented throwing pose. You can bet that Leinart was more than happy to see Roadrunner Reggie get his own pub.

The Obvious – If there is a Granddaddy of College Football magazines, Street & Smith is king of the hill.

The Not So Obvious – While early deadlines and distribution can lead to mistakes, Street & Smith had a real blunder when they listed Trojan offensive guard Jeff Byers as an honorable mention All-American…… as a defensive tackle.

The Obvious – Seeing the Goodyear blimp is somewhat symbolic of the college football season

The Not So Obvious – Well, Trojan fans may have a new craft hovering above the Coliseum. ABC will also now have an Outback Steakhouse symbol high in the air. Both ABC and CBS will use the "Bloomin Onion 1" Airship for overhead shots of college football and other sporting events. No Goodyear blimp? What next? No gum in Topps Baseball Cards?

The Obvious – Both Street & Smith and the Sporting News predict a national championship and Pac-10 title for the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious – However both differ on the predicted remaining order of finish of the Pac-10 as Street & Smith has Oregon, UCLA, Cal, ASU, Washington St., Oregon St., UW, Stanford, and Arizona while the Sporting News predicts Cal, ASU, UCLA, Oregon, Oregon St., Washington St., UW, Arizona, and Stanford.

The Obvious – Both Street & Smith and the Sporting News have the usual Trojans on their all-conference teams with QB Matt Leinart, RB Reggie Bush , OT Sam Baker, DE Lawrence Jackson, DB Darnell Bing, and Punter Tom Malone.

The Not So Obvious – However, both differ at wide receiver, offensive line, and in the secondary as WR Dwayne Jarrett, OG Fred Matua, and DB Justin Wyatt made the Sporting News only.

The Obvious – The Trojans figure to get quite a welcome when they enter Autzen Stadium on Sept. 17 to face the Oregon Ducks.

The No So Obvious – The Sporting News says that the Pac-10's best pregame atmosphere is at Oregon.

The Obvious – The Sporting News ranks each team's toughest game, must-win game, and the game with the best chance to being upset.

The Not So Obvious – TSN says the Trojans toughest game will be at Cal, must-win game against UCLA, and the best chance of an upset at Arizona State.

The Obvious – And finally, the Los Angeles Times reported that Pete Carroll attended Redwood High in Larkspur, California with comedian/actor Robin Williams.

The Not So Obvious – Okay, well the O/NSO went to Alhambra High and attended school with super model Cheryl Tiegs, Teen magazine and 60's TV dance show host Kam Nelson (remember 9th Street West with Sam Riddle?), and was good friends with Direct TV and NFL satellite mogul Eddy Hartenstein. Does that make the O/NSO eligible for the Dave Baker Adult Fantasy Camp Trophy?


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