"USC was always in my heart but I didn't really know what I wanted to do until I finally just prayed to God and after that my mind was clear," said Emmanuel. "I'm really happy to be a Trojan. It was a matter of sitting down and talking with my family and praying on it."
The next commit for the Trojans came as a package deal with Butch Lewis and Allen Bradford deciding to make their announcements at the same time. Game organizers stopped me on the sidelines, they noticed I was wearing my Trojan gear, to ask if I happened to have an extra USC hat since they would need two USC hats for the dual announcement. The situation was quickly resolved and the two were able to make a pledge to the Trojans a few minutes later.
"I'm very happy to be a Trojan," said Lewis. "I knew that's where I wanted to go after my visit, I just had a really good trip down there and became friends with some of the guys on the team like Patrick Turner, Lawrence Jackson and Kyle Moore."
"It was fun to make the commit today and get it over with," said Bradford. "I'm just ready now to get on to SC and get things started. I got my #1 school and I'm sticking with it. My mind had been made up for a while now and I'm glad that it's over so I can stop getting all the phone calls from coaches and stuff like that."
The final verbal of the day for the Trojans came courtesy of David Ausberry although time almost ran out in the broadcast before he was able to make his announcement. Ausberry, who impressed his West team coaches with his play in the game, and his family were gathered in the corner of the end zone with several minutes left to play in the game and the NBC people were waiting for a break in the action to hold the announcement. The West team proceeded to go on a long drive, with Ausberry watching from the sidelines, and that drive finally culminated in a TD pass to Terrence Austin with under a minute to play. It was then that Ausberry got to put on the USC hat in front of a national television audience.
"I didn't make my decision until just recently," said Ausberry. "USC is a school I was interested in for a long time and it just felt like it was the best decision for me. It will be good to be close to home so my family can watch me play."
Other notes from the day:
One of the first people I saw upon arriving at the Alamodome was Oaks Christian QB Jimmy Clausen, who was there with his brother Rick to do an interview with NBC during the game. Jimmy had to leave at halftime to fly back home to California and his mom's birthday party that night. Whoever ends up getting Clausen, it still looks to be a USC vs Notre Dame battle, will get a young man who is well versed in the recruiting process and who knows how to handle the situations he will be placed in as one of the most highly recruited players we've seen.
Early on in the game we had a chance to see Trojan commit Vidal Hazelton haul in a nice 58 yard catch before taking a big hit from Jonas Mouton, another USC recruit. Vidal, his mother is a hair stylist and named him after the shampoo, showed me a lot in this game, he's got good size and athleticism plus he showed very good hands as well. This is a solid receiver at 6-2, 200 and he was active in his support of USC throughout the week.
Mouton gained the reputation during camp practices as a big hitter and he remains a top priority for the Trojans as we head into the final stretches for this class. USC will have their hands full as we battle Michigan on this one.
Another player who is looking strongly at both USC and Michigan is East team OL Sam Young, who was possibly the most impressive player on the field. Young is absolutely huge, has excellent technique and has a good work ethic. Notre Dame is said to be in the mix as well for Young.
The Trojans lost out to the Wolverines on corner Jai Eugene who had given a verbal commit to USC on his official visit last month. Eugene had a good game, he's got nice size and moves well, but I don't know that I would take him over Shareece Wright, the Colton corner who was in the stands at the Army game supporting his teammate Allen Bradford.
The one corner who could benefit from this game is Devin Ross, he held his own while being matched up against some pretty good receivers and the Trojans could end up making more of a move on him now that Eugene has committed elsewhere. The Trojans had been hoping to get DeMarco Murray to fill one of the corner spots but he committed to Oklahoma in the game.
In terms of running backs, the guy who impressed me the most was Stafon Johnson. Stafon had played both offense and defense during the week of practice, this despite still being hobbled with a sore ankle, and he was the only West team running back that was getting the job done running between the tackles. Stafon is a solid 200 pounds with some good moves and he received a lot of praise from the West coaches for his work ethic during the week.
When talking running backs, we have to mention Chris Wells, the big back from Ohio who the Trojans pursued earlier this year. The guy is a beast and he is going to be an excellent college football player.
Michael Goodson showed why he is such a priority as well for the USC coaches with at least one breakaway run. Goodson has a lot of playmaking ability which is why the coaches have stayed with him during the process despite the fact that he has committed to three different schools and continues to be unpredictable. Michael was scheduled to announce for Texas A&M during the game, the hats were laid out on the table and was supposed to go between Bradford and Murray, but he elected not to announced and is still saying he's up in the air between A&M, USC and Oklahoma State. Stay tuned on this one.
The best hit Goodson took all day was one from Trojan commit Antwine Perez as Antwine popped him inside the ten yard line. Perez is definitely a hitter and the Trojans got another good one from New Jersey. His family was on the field after the game talking about much they can't wait for him to get to USC, we can't wait either.
The other USC safety commit, Taylor Mays, certainly looks the part as he is one of the more impressive physical looking guys on the field. There were conflicting reports on Taylor during the week of practice, some thought he didn't make enough plays while others thought he did just fine, but the one clear thing about Taylor is that he has the athletic ability to be a big-time guy.
The player who wowed me the most in this game was Gerald McCoy, the big defensive tackle from Oklahoma who is still considering USC along with the Sooners and Notre Dame. McCoy bears a resemblance to former Trojan DT Ennis Davis and he was extremely active all day both rushing the passer and stopping the run. There have been rumblings that the Trojans have a good shot at landing him and that would be a great pick-up indeed.
Two other O-line recruits who played in the game were Andre Smith and Steve Schilling. Both showed why they are being so strongly pursued by the USC coaches, Smith looks a lot like a more polished Chilo Rachal coming out of high school while Schilling reminds us of a bigger version of Derek Landri. I had a chance to talk with LB Poly coach Raul Lara on the sidelines and he raved about Schilling following his performance against the Jackrabbits in September.
We saw one highlight run from Percy Harvin but other than that he didn't do too much. The Trojans will continue to pursue the speedy receiver for this class.
Another speedy receiver, who could also play corner, is Jamere Holland although he didn't have an impact in the game. The West team coaches said he has some good ability and he's a player who could easily end up a Trojan when all is said and done.
Scott Schrader and I talked with the USC commits after the game and one of the questions we asked was their thoughts on the Rose Bowl game. Here are the responses:
Vidal Hazelton - "That was a great game (The Rose Bowl) and I thought we had it won. The loss was tough, but we're going to work hard and we'll be back -- I have no doubt about that. I'm so excited to be going to USC and have the chance to experience what the guys at SC have the past three years."
Antwine Perez - "Ah, man, I was disappointed about the outcome of the game, but then I realized how difficult it is to win three National Championships in a row. I know nobody has done it before, so when you think of reality like that, you know how hard it is. They played their hearts out and that's all you can ask for, you know? I know we're going to work hard and I'd like to be able to be a part of getting back, and winning another National Championship."
David Ausberry - "It was a great game and obviously I was pulling for USC, but it just didn't work out for us that way. We just got to work hard and get back next year."
Shareece Wright - "I was disappointed we didn't win the Rose Bowl, but Pete Carroll will do whatever he has to for us to get back to the championship game."
Butch Lewis - "I was disappointed, obviously, but they played their hearts out and I can't wait to get down there to be part of it."
Emmanuel Moody - "Watching the Rose Bowl game just made me more hungry. It made me want to come in there so that I can get a national championship."
Allen Bradford - "It was a game they could have won, it was a game they should've won, but, hey, you can't stay on top forever. We've got bounce back now."