O/NSO - 2006 RECRUITING EDITION

Yes, cardinal and gold congratulations are in order for former two-time Trojan All-America safety Troy Polamalu on his Super Bowl XL championship ring, but for USC Trojan fans, last Wednesday's National Letter of Intent Day produced a championship of equal euphoria.

The Obvious – Yes, cardinal and gold congratulations are in order for former two-time Trojan All-America safety Troy Polamalu on his Super Bowl XL championship ring, but for USC Trojan fans, last Wednesday's National Letter of Intent Day produced a championship of equal euphoria. With an Internet audience of over one million WeAreSC page viewers, cardinal and gold fans were given piece of mind when Heritage Hall fax machines squelched bombastic recruiting rumors, unsettling innuendos, and taunting hearsay by confirming 21 blue-chip signatures from gifted athletes across the country.

The Not So Obvious – We are, however, reminded that despite the impressive collection of potential talent by Pete Carroll and staff, Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu and Seattle's Lofa Tatupu proved again on Sunday you don't have to be the most publicized prep star arriving at Troy to make your way to the No Fun League. While the ink is now dry on those precious 2006 letters of intent, there is still much to be sorted out in the world of USC football including the recruiting resolution of wide receiver Vidal Hazelton and the departure of Trojan defensive line coach Jethro Franklin to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after just one tour of Pete Carroll duty.

The Obvious – While all signs seem point to a positive cardinal and gold resolution, Trojan fans are still awaiting the final outcome of this weekend's Big Apple powwow featuring prize wide receiver recruit Vidal Hazelton and his now celebrated step-father, Dexter, both of whom probably watched the Trojan publicity machine at work in Super Bowl XL, thanks to Polamalu and Tatupu.

The Not So Obvious - How ironic, however, that as Recruiting 2006 ends in high drama and intrigue with both Hazelton and Franklin, Recruiting 2007 came front and center on Wednesday with a Trojan verbal from Anaheim Servite junior All-America linebacker Chris Galippo (6-2, 230), who committed to Pete Carroll. With very few exceptions, Carroll does not offer local players early, but with Galippo, two words may have accelerated the process – Notre Dame. The 2005 Orange County Defensive Player of the Year recently attended Junior Day in South Bend and the timing was right for all concerned. Call this one a preemptive Pete Carroll strike for 2007.

The Obvious – Should the Trojans receive favorable Vidal Hazelton news from the land of David Lettermen in the near future, look for the Trojans to increase their relationship with prep schools like Chatham Hargrove (Va.) Military Academy.

The Not So Obvious – College basketball has used military prep schools for years in their recruiting successes, and football is now being exposed to this option as well. This is not a new phenomenon as Hargrove Military has sent a number alumni to the NFL including first-rounders Charles Grant (New Orleans), Jon Sullivan (New Orleans), Tory Holt (St. Louis), and Carlos Rogers (Washington). The military school, which refers to Hazelton as Cadet Vidal Hazelton, has also produced Soloman Paige (Dallas), Tony Scott (NY Jets), Robert Johnson (Atlanta), Anthony Davis (Tampa Bay), Ronald Fields (San Francisco), and Jay Ratliff (Dallas).

The Obvious – With the apparent departure of Jethro Franklin to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pete Carroll will be looking for his third defensive line coach in three years.

The Not So Obvious – The Tampa Bay irony, of course, is that Franklin replaces another former Trojan coach in Rod Marinelli, the new head coach for the Detroit Lions. Pete Carroll may now be forced to review his hiring philosophy between the fragile line of assistant coaches with ambition, especially those already with NFL pedigrees, and his own program's continuity. While the current Trojan defensive line unit and the newly signed defensive line class will have to adjust to another new coach - for some their third Trojan coach in three years - the real issue becomes recruiting, Recruiting is about relationships and as much as Pete Carroll is a recruiting beacon, one looks at the work done by running back coach Todd McNair and Ken Norton to illustrated how players want to be bond with their position coach.

The Obvious – When the Trojans lost Ed Orgeron to the Ole Miss, some wondered which Trojan assistant would take the recruiting lead, both nationally and locally.

The Not So Obvious – First, let's send kudos to Trojans' recruiting coordinator Lane Kiffin, who has been recognized by the media for the Trojans massive show of recruiting talent. However, nobody on the current Trojan staff forms recruiting relationships better than running back coach Todd McNair. McNair was recognized for his efforts on ESPN news when Dorsey running back Stafon Johnson credited McNair as a key factor in his decision to come to Troy. Johnson said, "My chemistry with coach McNair has grown through the recruiting process. I fell in love with Todd McNair; he calls me his son, his young dog. I just knew I couldn't give up on him." McNair, who helped bring in Dwayne Jarrett out of New Jersey, was also the point man in securing Camden, New Jersey, safety Antwine Perez.

The Obvious – The rumor wheel is starting to turn for Jethro Franklin's replacement.

The Not So Obvious – The word is that Trojan fans should begin to familiarize themselves once again with Clemson recruiting coordinator and linebacker coach David Blackwell. With Blackwell considered one of the nation's finest coaches both on and off the field, Pete Carroll would again be tapping into his file of coaching relationships, The Clemson Scout site is both praising and mourning the potential loss of Blackwell to the Trojans.

The Obvious – The Trojans, despite a down year in a number of positions in southern California, managed to live by their mantra of not letting anybody out of the area that they really wanted.

The Not So Obvious – Well, not completely. There was Venice strong safety Jonas Mouton to Michigan and Mission Viejo tight end Konrad Reuland to Notre Dame, but it's hard to argue that for the most part, the borders were better patrolled than down in Arizona. As for players taking their recruiting visas into SoCal, last year the Trojans brought in five players from out of state (including Walker Lee Ashley), and this season Pete Carroll escorted seven players into Los Angeles (including Walker Lee Ashley). This list will be increased, of course, depending on Mr. Hazelton.

The Obvious – This Trojan class is near as good as it gets from a prospective of skills players, allowing Pete Carroll to also say this is the "fastest class" he has recruited during his time at USC.

The Not So Obvious – The lack of offensive linemen is a major warning signs no matter what the party line. This will be major stress for Trojan fans come the 2007 recruiting season. Carroll is a risk taker and he fell just short in the recruitment of Alabama's Andre Smith and Florida's Sam Young. Did you really think that Andre Smith was going to go in front of his Birmingham Huffman High School classmates to announce he was going to USC? Didn't think so. On the defensive side, The same could be said of DT Gerald McCoy of Oklahoma City Southeast. You don't call the young Sooner masses together for an assembly to tell them you're signing up for Trojan duty.

The Obvious – Many are concerned over the lack of incoming offensive linemen and how it translates to Troy next season.

The Not So Obvious – It won't have any Trojan effect for next season. Offensive linemen are developed over time. If anything, a redshirt year is the norm. However, Trojan fans will need to wait and see how many of the current freshmen find themselves as part of Pat Ruel's unit sometime next season, possibly during bowl practice. Let's not forget the move of tight end-to-tackle Charles Brown from last year's class as the classic example.

The Obvious – Recruiting against the Trojans at this point of time is an awesome task under any standards, especially for teams in the Pac-10.

The Not So Obvious – According to a telling quote in a recruiting story in the Tacoma News "Everyone wants to play for a winner," said one Pacific-10 Conference assistant coach. "They (USC) have won two national championships. And look at the locale, the celebrity and notoriety you can get in that setting. Plus, they have done a great job in maximizing performance from those players and eliminating internal conflict." Even Cal's Jeff Tedford admitted that the Trojans get whomever they "select."

The Obvious – With so many scouting services and sites besides our favorite, WeAreSC, it's still fun to compare rankings of players from site to site.

The Not So Obvious – As has been a recruiting tradition for the O/NSO, we now present our annual prospective on Pete Carroll's "young pups," and we'll do some comparison shopping of rankings for your viewing pleasure. It's important to note that CSTV will also be allowed to participate since they are represented by Notre Dame representative (lol) Tom Lemmings, and we'll also include ESPN's evaluation. As usual, the tradition-rich Best in the West (BIW) from the Long Beach Press-Telegram is also included. So without further delay, rumors, or more Internet crossfire, we present the O/NSO 2006 Recruiting Edition.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Venice HS, CA, RB Kenny Ashley (5-9, 210, 4.5), an All-Los Angeles City first team selection and All-Western League Offensive MVP.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO loves this addition. Patience was a virtue for both Kenny Ashley's decision to come to Troy and for those that have watched him play. If you were a brave enough media member to stand on the California All-Stars sideline and watch Ashley's performance against some of the best defenders Florida had to offer in the CaliFlorida game, you know why this former Servite-to-Venice transfer was a true sleeper in the Trojans' recruiting chart. Even in the downpour, Ashley, who had made a commit to Mississippi State last summer, performed Rich Little, gridiron impressions of Eric Bienemy, Maurice Drew, and even a little Ricky Ervins, so how in the world was this kid overlooked? Apparently this short but not little pinball was always on the Trojan radar. The O/NSO says this kid will more than prove that he isn't some throw-in. He is exciting, tough, and will be a fine compliment to the retooling USC running back stable.

The Obvious – The Trojans "re-sign" Eden Prairie, MN, DL Walker Lee Ashley (6-5, 295, 4.8), an "original Super Prep, Prep Star, and Tom Lemming All-American.

The Not So Obvious – Already attending classes at Troy this spring, let's review. Okay, class, Ashley is a former Minneapolis Star-Tribune Player of the Year and a finalist for the Mr. Football award in the state of Minnesota. Walker is the cousin of former Trojan tight end Dominique Byrd. Let's also remind ourselves that Walker's father, Walker Lee Ashley, played for Pete Carroll in the NFL. The Trojans overcame Ashley's trip to Happy Valley where Walker's dad played for the JoePa in Nittiny Lionville. There was flirtation with Glen Mason's Minnesota Golden Gophers. It may have taken a long time to get to Los Angeles, but he figures to get a big look at defensive tackle.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Lemoore HS, CA, WR David Ausberry (6-5, 215, 4.65), ranked in the Top 100 by CSTV (#17). ESPN (#38), Scout (#46), Rivals (#66), Parade (#2-WR), and BIW (#4).

The Not So Obvious – There is talk of this kid's size being another Mike Williams. Please, can we cool the Mike Williams comparisons for the kid's sake? What we do see, having seen him in person, is potentially another Fred Davis, a big receiver and potential tight end. Remember, the Trojans can spilt out their tight ends, so this would work to Ausberry's talents. He received high marks during the U.S. Army All-America workouts and it certainly doesn't hurt that David also plays basketball, just like Mike Williams. The development of this kid in terms of running patterns, separation, and use of a big body that could become 235 pounds before his career is over will be worth watching.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Colton HS, CA LB Allen Bradford (6-0, 230, 4.55), ranked in the Top 100 by Rivals (#9), CSTV (#25), ESPN (#26), Scout (#28), Parade (#1-APP), and BIW (#2).

The Not So Obvious – Here we go again. For those good readers sick of hearing how the O/NSO thought Darnell Bing would have been a better running back than a strong safety, we apologize in advance. Flat out, we believe that Bradford really could be the second coming of LenDale White if he wants to play tailback. No matter how many times we have seen this kid play, and it has been numerous, we always came away saying he is a better running back than linebacker, although he will be thoroughly tested as a strong safety, his apparent Darnell Bing duplication. Even Pete Carroll has inferred his appreciation for Bradford's running style. Hey, the kid wore No. 21 at Colton and we seem to remember a certain "thunderous" back that from the recent past that made that number a Trojan household symbol.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Sylmar HS, CA, RB-S C.J. Gable (6-1, 190, 4.50), ranked in the Top 100 by Rivals (#23), Scout (#26), CSTV (# 42), ESPN (# 52), Parade (# 5-RB), and BIW (#3).

The Not So Obvious – Another Justin Fargas? That's what he sure looks like to us in his relentless running style, and we all remember how Fargas changed the entire complexion of the Trojans' offense in 2002. However, we expect to see this kid in the Trojans secondary in some capacity and C.J. doesn't seem to mind where he plays, a delight to Trojan coaches trying to reload. The irony, of course, is that C.J. earned his All-America status in Parade Magazine as a running back, ranking as the fifth best back in America.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Sherman Oaks Notre Dame HS, CA, QB Garrett Green (6-2, 200, 4.5), selected on the All-CIF Southern Section team and All-CIF lll Offensive MVP selection.

The Not So Obvious – With a reported 3.7 GPA and 1860 SAT, it would have been understandable if Green had gone to Harvard. While that Harvard versus Yale rivalry is one of the best, how can you turn down USC/Notre Dame and USC/UCLA. A winner's winner, Green had to make a choice between a potential national championship opportunity and the romance of Westwood. You can take the academic out of the athlete, but you can't take the athlete out of the academic. As an athlete, Green reminds us of the late Bobby Chandler, a former star Whittier HS quarterback who eventually was switched to wide receiver and on into the NFL. Not a soul argues he starts for many colleges at quarterback and if competitiveness desire counts, he is on par with John David Booty and Mark Sanchez. He is the epitome of Pete Carroll competition.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Salt Lake City Cottonwood HS, UT, RB Stanley Havili (6-1, 220, 4.55), selected to the Utah 4A first team and All-Utah Region 6 MVP.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans were in search of the "next" David Kirtman or Malaefou MacKenzie, Stanley Steamer may see himself as a tailback, but figure on fullback. The kid shows no fear of the Stafon Johnsons and Emmanuel Moodys in this class. He told the Dessert Morning News, "I was on a recruiting trip with all of them, and I know I can compete with them. They're not extraordinary, they're just regular players like me." Good confidence, kid, but the extraordinary is in the hitting of linebackers Rey Maualuga, Oscar Lua, and Brian Cushing. These ain't no regular dudes. Stanley raised some eyebrows when he commented in the Dessert morning News on the potential of a Mormon mission, which appeared to have put on hold by Pete Carroll, by saying, "If I need to serve my mission, I'll serve my mission, whether it's during or after (his Trojan career)."

The Obvious – The Trojans are attempting to sign Chatham Hargrove Military Academy, VA, WR Vidal Hazelton (6-2, 200, 4.50), ranked in the Top 100 by ESPN (#3), Scout (#5), Rivals (#7), and CSTV (#35).

The Not So Obvious – There is no truth to the rumor that Vidal will sign with the Trojans and his stepfather, Dexter, with Penn State. What a saga! Every recruiting year there is high drama and misinformation and Vidal's recruiting is just what authors write about when it comes to the twists and turns of recruiting. The best thing the Trojans have going for them is the fact that living away from home has given Vidal the confidence, by his own admission, to be independent to come out to southern California. The kid is NYC through and through and the city element of Los Angeles and "Hollywood" was just what the recruiting doctor ordered but is also one of the major concerns of the Hazelton family.

The Obvious – The Trojan sign San Pedro HS, CA, OL Zack Heberer (6-5, 285, 5.1), ranked in the BIW (HM).

The Not So Obvious – We see offensive guard written all over this kid and a recent interview with our Brian Mathews confirms it. Many are impressed with the fact that he loves to surf and do the underwater stuff. We will be more impressed if he is able to ride the "glass" of defensive tackles and stunting linebackers. A competitor, he is one player that surprisingly received very few votes in the Best in the West. The fact that there seems to be little question where he plays is a real advantage and the fact he, too, has a big motor. Time will tell if how far he can take his talents, but he is athletic and showed a real willingness to compete in the Trojans' linemen camp.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Woodland Hills Taft HS, CA, WR Jamere Holland (6-1, 180, 4.4) ranked in the Top 100 by Rivals (#33), CSTV (#54), ESPN (#92), Scout (#97), and BIW (#6).

The Not So Obvious – Speed, speed, and more speed. How fast is Jamere? Fast enough for the Trojan coaching staff to give the kid what he wanted, a chance to play wide receiver. Almost all agree that he could be an NFL corner and potential All-American defensive back. However, defense is the last place he wanted his talents to be placed, and the Trojans smartly agreed to give the kid a shot at receiver. Nobody questions his speed, perhaps the fastest player in America, but what about his desire to catch the pigskin over the middle, especially with the Darnell Bings and Antwine Perez's of the world policing the secondary? We know he can run, now we and Jamere will find out about precise pass patterns and big hearts.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Los Angeles Dorsey HS, CA, RB Stafon Johnson (6-1, 210, 4.4) ranked in the Top 100 by Scout (#13), ESPN (#14), Rivals (#18), CSTV (#33), Parade (#3-A-PL), and BIW (#1).

The Not So Obvious – No, he's not Reggie Bush. No, he's not LenDale White. And no, he's not Justin Fargas. He is best defined in two words – Stafon Johnson. Johnson brings his own style and the fact that he is such a fierce hitter as a safety lets you know he can bring it. We have watched this kid and while he doesn't have the explosive gear of Bush, we found his aggressive running style much like Charles White in attitude, not a bad comparison unless you don't like being mentioned alongside a Heisman Trophy winner. He also reminds us, revealing our age, to former Trojan tailback great Clarence Davis, who, like Johnson, is following a Heisman Trophy winner. Davis, who replaced O.J. Simpson, was a tougher than nails runner, a former nose guard at LA Washington High, and we see the same mode in Johnson. FYI, Stafon's father told us in the fall that he was a LA Fremont classmate of the late Ricky Bell, the Trojans' All-America tailback.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Long Beach Poly HS, CA, DB Vincent Joseph (5-10, 185, 4.4), a first-team All-CIF Southern Section defensive selection.

The Not So Obvious – Forget Disneyland, cardinal and gold dreams do come true. Just ask Vincent Joseph, who longed to wear the cardinal and gold. The Trojans loss of Devon Ross to Arizona was Joseph's gain to old Southern Cal. Sorry about the slip, media guide, but even Lofa Tatpu introduced himself in Sunday's Super Bowl as from "Southern Cal." We're happy to have the tough Joseph, who has always wanted to be a Trojans. In fact, he comes with a good recommendation from former Trojan DB standout Darrell Rideaux, who has been quite complementary of Mr. Joseph. Lack of size could be an issue against prototype, big Pac-10 receivers, but the kid has that Poly speed and if Rideaux, who really is 5-8, could compete and have a coffee stop in the NFL, we'll take Darrell's word for it.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Aurora Regis Jesuit HS, CO, DL, Butch Lewis (6-7, 300, 5.20)), ranked in the Top 100 by Rivals (#44), Scout (#60), CSTV (#62), Parade (#14-LMN) and regionally by the BIW (#20).

The Not So Obvious – We found the most appealing part of this youngster's game was his attitude. Whether he was on defensive or on offense, he came to play each down. His high school coach fully expects a future Sunday paycheck and the only questions is whether Butch does it on offense or defense. After viewing highlights, we aren't so sure that he doesn't get a real shot at defense. Defensive tackle is where we think he fits at the outset, especially if the Trojans experiment with a 3-4 defense, thanks to a cupboard full of talented linebackers. Most say he goes to offense, but we were impressed with his quickness in confined space, which, of course, generally is the recipe for offensive line duty. The fact he choose the Trojans over the Irish makes this one just a little bit sweeter.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Seattle O'Dea HS, WA DB Taylor Mays (6-4, 225, 4.50) ranked in the Top 100 by CSTV (#7), ESPN (#8), Rivals (#16), Scout (#21), Parade (#1-DB), and BIW (#7).

The Not So Obvious – So where does Mays really play? Another versatile superstar prep player, there are those that question his desire to come up and hit, but nobody questions his ability to play a number of positions. Some say a free safety would allow him to exhibit his skills to the max, while others say this Gatorade Washington Player of the Year is a tight end or even an outside linebacker. The fact that he could hang with the fastest receivers in the country in the U.S. Army All-America Game should bring excitement to Trojan fans. With the Pac-10 a spawning ground of explosive offenses, especially through the air, Mays' athletic ability and size is a rare commodity.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Fresno Bullard HS, CA, TE Anthony McCoy (6-5, 240, 4.55), a Tacoma Tribune Top 100 selection and BIW (HM).

The Not So Obvious – Split end, tight end, or simply defensive end? There seems to be no "end" to where McCoy will eventually wind up. There are times when McCoy looks like he could step right into the NFL and there are times when those close to the Fresno Bullard program say he needs to work on consistency if he wants to eventually cash an NFL paycheck. What all agree is that the talent is all there and it is up to the kid to embrace the challenge. It figures that McCoy will have all the challenge he needs during fall practice to stimulate his athletic desires.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Coppell HS, TX, RB Emmanuel Moody (6-1, 195, 4.6), ranked in the Top 100 by ESPN (#37), Rivals (#70). Scout (#75), and CSTV (#86),

The Not So Obvious – We snuck one out of Texas or was it really Miami? Moody has been the subject of intense articles about his uncle's disciplined physical and mental training techniques and nobody questions the will of this kid to compete. He reminds us somewhat of a slower Ricky Ervins, the former Trojan and Washington Redskins star running back. While not exhibiting a real home run threat, the kid has more moves than a Whammo Water Wiggle. He's is what we call a 15-yard runner. Moody will need to be harpooned to be stopped inside of a 15-yard radius. The fact he is a good receiver, as well, will benefit him in his competition with the Trojans' collection of running backs.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Dallas Skyline, TX, LB Mike Morgan (6-2, 200, 4.6), ranked in the Top 100 by Scout (#34), Rivals (#67), ESPN (#70), and Parade (#7-LB).

The Not So Obvious – In the immortal words of comedian Jim Nabor's Gomer Pyle, "Surprise, surprise." Let's get one thing clear, this pleasant surprise did visit Texas in the summer; so take that Longhorn fans. Apparently that October Homecoming game Coliseum visit to the Coliseum left a lasting impression and, please, don't remind Florida State, Morgan's boyhood favorite, and Texas A&M that this Texan is really headed west. Both are still in Ken Norton shock. Many called this one a major Signing Eve shocker as this Parade All-American stunned the locals with his KDFW-TV announcement. This kid, whose Skyline club went to the playoffs, is talked about as a pure speed rusher and is the first Dallas linebacker to play for Troy since Brian Williams (1991-94), who hailed from Dallas Bishop Dunne.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Irvine Woodbridge HS, CA, DL Alex Parsons (6-4, 260, 4.8), All-CIF Southern Section, All-Orange County, and BIW (HM).

The Not So Obvious – Alex told our Brian Mathews that his favorite hit TV shows are The OC and Laguna Beach. So what did you expect from a kid from deep in the OC? If ever there was a "hit" sleeper in this class, it's Orange County's Parsons. A virtual unknown, Parsons was at the Trojans' linemen camp and more than held his own against the likes of San Pedro's Zack Heberer, another Trojan commit. We watch the domination of Parsons that day and commented if this kid isn't offered after his performance that day, Tommy Trojan needs a sobriety test. Thanks to a MVP performance at defensive tackle in the CaliFlorida game in December, Parsons just missed being named to the Best in the West Top 20. Trust the O/NSO, don't go by those Scout videos of Parsons early in the season because the kid was played out of position at Woodbridge, playing linebacker and tight end. We have seen this kid in person both at Troy and in his prep games and he is a stud. In some facets of his play in the CaliFlorida game, he reminded us of a young Howie Long. Did we mention he has a very large mean streak in his play?

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Long Beach Poly HS, CA, WR Travon Patterson (5-11, 180, 4.5), a two-time All-CIF Division 1 offensive selection.

The Not So Obvious – All agree that the Trojans have lacked a speed burner in the slot. Not since the days of another Poly star, Kareem Kelly, have the Trojans had a chance to get some flash. In fact, it's ironic that the loss of Percy Harvin to Florida and the decision to recruit Patterson over Terrence Austin, who would have given his left Jackrabbit to be a Trojan, allowed Travon to wear the cardinal and gold. Patterson, who can also be a kick and punt returner, helps aid the loss of Reggie Bush on special teams.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Camden Woodrow Wilson HS, NJ, DB Antwine Perez (6-2, 205, 4.50), ranked in the Top 100 by CSTV (#9), ESPN (#11), Rivals (#29), Scout (#43) and Parade (#3-DB)

The Not So Obvious – Perez is already at Troy all right, but let's cool the Ronnie Lott comparisons. Seriously, if anybody can compare to Lott's vaunted hitting, it is Perez. For our youthful readers, Antwine will remind you of departing Trojan free safety Scott Ware. Nobody drew a bigger reaction during last weekend's WeAreSC recruiting dinner in Anaheim, as taped highlights of Perez "hitting" brought steak and chicken indigestion to a gasping audience. The Scout regular season highlights more than lived up to the billing in the U.S. Army All-American game, especially with his torpedo hit of one-time Trojan running back recruit Michael Goodson, who signed with Texas A&M. Goodson probably wondered if he would have survived Trojan practices if Perez was the type of defensive recruit the Trojans were bringing in. Credit Trojan coach Todd McNair with snagging another "nugget" out of the Northeast.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Long Beach Poly, CA, LB-SS Alfred Rowe (6-1, 195, 4.6), an All-CIF Division 1 selection.

The Not So Obvious - Forgive the Trojans, Oregon State fans, but Jospeh's Beaver verbal last summer was only good until his childhood fave in cardinal and gold came recently calling. Timing is everything in recruiting, and Rowe considered enrolling at OSU mid-year but held off. The Poly Jackrabbit played a game of recruiting nerves and you have to like that 37-inch vertical that speaks volumes of athleticism. Those close to the Poly program say he is a good, solid football player who can provide depth.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Fairfield Armijo HS, CA, DL Derek Simmons (6-4, 275, 4.8), ranked nationally in the Top 100 by Rivals (#62), Scout (#100), and regionally in the BIW (#17).

The Not So Obvious – Perhaps a little more recruiting visible than the stealth Alex Parsons of Irvine Woodbridge, Simmons did the same Parsons routine performing with talent and gusto in the Trojans' linemen camp, a stellar season, and a dominating performance in the CaliFlorida game. Another brilliant analysis of talent by Pete Carroll and staff, Simmons used his long arms and high motor to repeatedly assert his vast potential. There is little question that if this kid had been in the Los Angeles area as a junior, he would have been a national name, appearing in your standard preseason recruiting publications. Despite the loss of Oklahoma City All-American Gerald McCoy, the Trojans are in good shape with the combination of Simmons and Parsons.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Oakland McClymonds HS, CA, LB Josh Tatum (6-1, 225, 4.50), ranked in the Top 100 by Rivals (#40), Scout (#41), CSTV (#77), ESPN (#96), and regionally in the BIW (#18).

The Not So Obvious – There was no better recruiter for the Trojans than Josh Tatum. Tatum was in constant contact with players like Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith. Having seen this kid in person, we can say when it comes to a physical specimen; Tatum passes the eyeball test. The only question is can he pass his physical examination for the fall, for he is recovering from ACL surgery. With a history of injuries, the Trojan coaching staff kept the faith with Tatum and word is the kid should be ready to go in the fall but doesn't want to rush things until he's ready. He could be a special teams demon next season and the Trojans' already physical linebacking unit just got an additional cup of testosterone.

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Rancho Cucamonga Chaffey JC, CA, TE Gerald Washington (6-6, 255, 4.60), J.C Athletic Bureau All-America first team.

The Not So Obvious – Trojan fans know Big Gerald is coming in as a tight end and may very well stay there, but you can't help but see this former Navy seaman as a defensive end. You know he is disciplined from his years at sea and we all know how, thanks to Vince Young, being disciplined on defense means. He told WeAreSC that if he could play another position, it would be defensive end so he could dish out the punishment. Be careful, Gerald, Pete Carroll might be listening. Would the Trojans dare redshirt this newcomer?

The Obvious – The Trojans sign Colton HS, CA, DB Shareece Wright (6-1, 185, 4.50), ranked in the Top 100 by Rivals (#38), Scout (#94), and BIW

The Not So Obvious – Whew! Every Trojan that watched Wright's performances on television should be thanking their cardinal and gold stars this kid is in the fold. A major hitter who is a true headhunter at corner, Wright was overshadowed early by teammate Allen Bradford. We love the kid's instincts and he could be as physical a corner as the Trojans have brought in during the Carroll era. With some added weight in Carlisle's laboratory, Wright not only brings national skills, but a very extroverted attitude. Why is it when I hear the name Shareece, I think of Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs calling out "Claireece?"

The Obvious – The Trojans' loss to Texas in the Rose Bowl had little or no effect on the final 2006 recruiting wars.

The Not So Obvious – Many years ago during the John McKay era when recruiting was so hush-hush that even the FBI and CIA couldn't get information, there was a national creed among college coaches that said "Never get into a recruiting battle with USC or Notre Dame because you will lose." Judging by the results, that old rule is half right. In 2006, it could be said "Don't get into a recruiting battle with USC" and for the most part, that saying still applies.


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