The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO has maintained that a major key to the success of next season is the current academic status of junior tailback Chauncey Washington. After a recent spring practice, Chauncey, who was assisting with a video interview, gave the O/NSO an exclusive status report. The chiseled tailback said, " Everything school-wise is going great. The coaches have really been in my head and I am really excited. I am taking 10 units that I need to pass to be eligible to participate. I should know how everything is by the second week in May." Judging by the enthusiasm that No. 23 spoke, it really does finally appear that Washington's time is going to happen. Chauncey was quite appreciative of the knowledge that so many Trojan fans are rooting for his reappearance in August.
The Obvious – With John David Booty expected to be out up to 12 weeks recovering from Friday's surgery, needless to say, redshirt freshman Mark Sanchez is at full throttle and is living up to expectations.
The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO caught up with Trojans' prodigy signal-caller on Thursday, and the Mission Viejo gunslinger said he was really looking forward to Saturday night's closed scrimmage in the Coliseum. Asked about Saturday night, Mark said, " It should be a real test. I am looking forward to it. I am just trying to stay calm and try and reach a set of goals. I just try to learn my lessons and if I make a mistake, I just try to correct it and move on. I am concentrating on not making rookie mistakes and not repeating them." Throwing a rare interception on Thursday, Mark said he "tried to be Brett Farvre." After consulting with quarterback coach Steve Sarkisian, Sanchez and Sark figured out the Farvre impression had run its course. It also figures with each passing day, Trojan opponents won't be seeing too many "Green Bay" gifts from the immerging No. 6.
The Obvious – One encouraging sign of the opening of spring ball is the continued sighting of junior tailback Desmond Reed fielding punts and light running with the help of a brace.
The Not So Obvious – There are more than a few experts that believe that Reed's serious injury was the result of Notre Dame's long-hair grass not being manicured. All of which reminds us that the turf on Howard Jones Field is just immaculate. The field looks like something that has been masterminded by Ed Mangan, NFL Field Director for numerous Super Bowls. A Pebble Beach green never looked so good.
The Obvious – Servite's All-World junior linebacker Chris Galippo, who is the first big time commit for the Trojan Class of 2007, was a first-day visitor to spring practice.
The Not So Obvious – Galippo walked into practice with an escort by the name of Pete Carroll. For those who tend to roll their Rosary beads for fear of a late Irish recruiting rush by those rascals from South Bend, you'll be comforted to know that Mrs. Galippo was wearing an attractive USC sweatshirt. A done deal? Well, do you need mama to wear some cardinal and gold sweatpants for further proof? BTW, it was good to see former legendary Servite coach, Larry Toner, in attendance during the first week.
The Obvious – There are many that believe that redshirt freshman quarterback Mark Sanchez, the former Mission Viejo national player of the year, will use his outgoing persona to score a number of "wins" on the recruiting front.
The Not So Obvious – Sanchez's effect on recruiting was evident when Servite linebacker Galippo smiled and walked up to Sanchez and respectfully said, " I played against you in a passing league." Mark, on cue, gave the future Servite prep All-American a big hug and you could tell Galippo was thrilled by Sanchez's acknowledgement. Perhaps Sanchez's SoCal influence has also extended to his East Coast roommate, sophomore linebacker Brian Cushing, whose new natural, long flowing dark hair now looks more like a converted Huntington Beach surfer than a former New Jersey Soprano. BTW, Jersey Brian looks much bigger since the Rose Bowl, and this kid has that Bill Romanowski look and we say that in a positive sense.
The Obvious – One of the many incoming freshmen expected to make an impact in August is Dorsey All-American running back Stafon Johnson.
The Not So Obvious – Johnson, who facially looks a little bit like former Georgia legend Hershel Walker, apparently will play for the "Private/City Section All-Stars in the Shrine Game June 24 at Citrus College. Johnson is expected to be joined by Taft RB/DB C.J. Gable and WR Jamere Holland. Speaking of Gable, watch out for this kid on offense. While Johnson seems to get much of the pub, there are those who swear this kid will be right in the thick of things in the summer.
The Obvious – Sophomore guard/center Jeff Byers is in mortal competition with the improved and determined Matt Spanos for the vacated Deuce Lutui left guard spot.
The Not So Obvious – No doubt about it, Byers looks in great shape and is as nasty as ever. However, it's Spanos, one of the club's true strongmen, has been one of the early spring surprises and we have been impressed with first-hand viewing. Defensive tackle candidate Chris Barrett told the O/NSO that Spanos was one of the two best linemen he has faced this spring. As a little refresher course on Spanos, Big Matt is a former All-CIF Southern Section second-team selection out of Corona High. A sociology major, Spanos (6-6, 305), who redshirted as a freshman offensive guard in 2003, has certainly gotten the attention of offensive line coach Pat Ruel and certainly Jeff Byers as well.
The Obvious – One of the key figures missing during spring ball is Bob Leinart, father of Matt, who seemed like a practice fixture the past five years.
The Not So Obvious – One regular observer commented during the first spring week, "But who is going to sit in Bob Leinart's lounge chair?" Don't worry about Bob's involvement with the Trojans, father Leinart was seen last Sunday long after practice awaiting his son's and Reggie Bush's workout for this Sunday's Pro Day on campus. Speaking of Matt, Lefty was at Thursday's afternoon practice and viewed some of the spring fray from the backline of the west end zone of Howard Jones Field.
The Obvious – Tailback Hershel Dennis is sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered when running on the beach.
The Not So Obvious – Ya know, Pete Carroll and the offense sure could use the former Long Beach Poly star. Many have moaned that Dennis, coming off a knee injury, has been the recipient of some tough breaks, especially his latest setback. You can't fault Hershel for trying to get in better shape, knowing he was the only true tailback available this spring and a potential chance to lock up a starting spot. However, Pete Carroll is on record as saying he does not want his players running on the beach as legendary Trojan tailback Ricky Bell once did. If Dennis is guilty of anything, it's not following the instructions of his coach, who wanted desperately to see No. 34 back on the active list.
The Obvious – Much is expected this spring from Trojan senior wide receiver Steve Smith.
The Not So Obvious – If the early days of spring are any indication, Trojan fans are going to like what they see. The former Taft star has made some impressive catches, some of which have reminded the O/NSO of his brilliant Orange Bowl performance against Oklahoma It appears that the senior feels he has something to prove this year, especially after the loss to Texas in the national championship game. Asked about the Rose Bowl in a recent FSN interview, Smith admitted," I still haven't watched that game."
The Obvious – Two of the more popular selling items from last season's explosive offense were the Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush jerseys.
The Not So Obvious – With the Trojans marketing and merchandise departments trying to cash in on the success of the Cardinal and Gold, there is a new jersey already getting the star treatment in the bookstore. Dwayne Jarrett's No. 8 jersey appears to be the headliner heading into next season.
The Obvious – One of the most heated rivalries in recent years has been between the Trojans and Jeff Tedsford's California Golden Bears.
The Not So Obvious – So it was a bit surprising to see in the bookstore a USC jacket with the inside brand tag reading "Golden Bear."
The Obvious – To the shock of nobody in the know, the return of coach Nick Holt as defensive line coach has put a fire under the Trojan line candidates.
The Not So Obvious – Junior tackle Chris Barrett, who is a lead candidate for LaJuan Ramsey's spot, said that Holt reminds him of former line coach, Ed Orgeron. With that in mind, it was no accident last week that freshman defensive tackle Walker Lee Ashley was showing the efforts of the fast-paced Trojan practice, and Holt wouldn't let Walker Lee take a breather. Trying to catch his breath by "disappearing" behind some other linemen, Holt called out Ashley to run a bag drill again with more intensity. Welcome to Trojan practice, Walker Lee, and welcome to the world of Nick Holt. Ashley, the former Eden Prairie (MN) star, is like most "young pups" in the Trojan system, the heart is willing but the body is protesting. It should be noted that Ashley has done some good things and has also been taken to the ground unceremoniously. While the jury still out about his final position destination, offense or defense, this big kid is catching on day by day.
The Obvious – Trojan practices have been open to the public so far and there has been the usual amount of celebrities in attendance, ranging from recruits, past players, and high-ranking officials.
The Not So Obvious – It was good to see the Trojans unofficial football "general manager," Bruce Bagni, who flew in from his home in Jacksonville, Florida, to catch a week's action of his beloved cardinal and gold.
The Obvious – Jethro Franklin was last year's Trojan defensive line coach.
The Not So Obvious – Franklin, who has moved back to the NFL, was in attendance on Thursday to say hello. He was greeted by hugs from the present coaching staff. Unfortunately for Jethro, many Trojan fans will always remember that he called the infamous timeout after Texas had scored the go-ahead touchdown late in the Rose Bowl. Many Trojan fans can still see the anger in Pete Carroll's face at the timeout, which was the Trojans last.
The Obvious – ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit got the attention of Trojan fans when he announced that he had picked the Trojans as a preseason No. 2 behind Notre Dame.
The Not So Obvious – "Looking at their schedule, they (USC) have a legitimate shot to be 11-0 when my No. 1 team, Notre Dame, comes to town." Kirk believes that Notre Dame will have the best offense in the country, but as the Trojans found out in the Rose Bowl, an All-World offense doesn't guarantee a national championship. The old saying still applies that "offense scores points and defense wins games," unless, of course, you have Vince Young scrambling around at the end of a game.
The Obvious – Much was made last of the fact that Matt Leinart's roommate last season was All-America receiver Dwayne Jarrett, who has looked nothing short of sensational in practice.
The Not So Obvious – For the record, QB John David Booty's roommate is center Ryan Kalil. Well, if you can't have your favorite receiver as a roommate, the next best thing is an All-American center candidate. After all, Kailil not only is first person to give the pigskin to a Trojan quarterback, but he can also call out a blocking assignment on a potential blitz that can save the neck of Booty or Sanchez.
The Obvious – Much is expected of sophomore wide receiver Patrick Turner, once considered the nation's premier prep wide out.
The Not So Obvious – Turner continues to give a glimpses into his gifted ability, snaring one pass one-handed last week. It was the type of catch that would make former All-American Mike Williams smile ear to ear. With Dwayne Jarrett being in a classroom on occasion during the spring, it has allowed Turner to be the "man" and the kid is trying to take advantage of the opportunity.
The Obvious – A reporter is only as good as his pen's ability to jot down notes on a piece of paper.
The Not So Obvious – Emulating a rookie columnist, the O/NSO brought along a pen to practice that had happened to be inkless. Out of the kindness of her blessed heart, Maddy Sanchez, step-mom of quarterback Mark, came to the rescue and provided us with a writing utensil. And, yes, we gave the pen back to Maddy after practice.
The Obvious – Long Beach Poly defensive back Vincent Joseph, who signed with the Trojans No. 1 recruiting class, has been a regular spectator.
The Not So Obvious – Joseph looks like a miniature version of Reggie Bush. Speaking of defensive backs, watch out for sophomore corners Kevin Thomas and Cary Harris. Both have been working with the first unit and have exhibited an exciting touch, especially Thomas, who has made some brilliant defensive plays.
The Obvious – Transfer tight end Gerald Washington (6-6, 255) has wowed observers with his effortless ability and his graceful running after a catch.
The Not So Obvious – Washington, and please pass the smelling salts, really reminds us of a bigger version of Trojan legend Charles Young, the starting tight end of the 1972 national champs. If Young was called "The Tree" during his playing days, then Washington has the potential to be the whole darn forest.
The Obvious – Observers were impressed at Thursday's practice with the medical recovery of Anthony Davis, the Trojans' legendary tailback, who walked the sidelines of Howard Jones Field and almost looked like old No. 28 from yesteryear.
The Not So Obvious – While on-lookers were stunned how good Davis looked in his "traditional" all black fashion statement, a number of fans were equally impressed seeing beloved Don Clausen, a big time Trojan supporter, on the sidelines in full Trojan attire. Dandy Don is showing the true "fight-on" spirit in battling an unfriendly adversary, cancer. Clausen says reading WeAreSC has helped kept him going, but the truth is, Don, you have kept us going with your Heisman Trophy winning determination.
The Obvious – Observers of practice this week aren't giving free hyperbole when it comes to nose guard Sedrick Ellis.
The Not So Obvious – Oh my, has Sedrick Ellis not only gotten bigger but better as well. There should be a rule that the first Trojan off the bus during away games is Ellis. Intimidation should be defined as Sedrick Ellis. Not to belabor the point, but you get an idea of the Ellis factor when the former Chino High star does battle with center Ryan Kalil. It wouldn't be a stretch to say it's like watching two bulls go at it. Depending on the day, Ellis has gotten the full respect of all-star center Kalil.
The Obvious – Deadline for Trojan season ticket renewal was Friday, March 24.
The Not So Obvious - So it came as a shock to some season ticket holders when they received their season ticket information through the mail on Tuesday, March 29. Lost in the communications snafu, however, was a slick 2006 schedule foldout poster that also included season, general, and group ticket information. Some have made negative comments recently about the schedule poster using the word "Encore," as if Trojan fans wanted another "Texas" repeat. However, the schedule brochure explains the "Encore" poster beginning with "After a 34 game winning streak"…(unfolding to)… "Only one word slums up Trojan football" (unfolding into the full schedule poster)…"Encore."
The Obvious – If All-America defensive end candidate Lawrence Jackson needed incentive to get better, he can refer back to his battle with Texas All-America tackle Jonathon Scott, who held LoJack without a sack.
The Not So Obvious – And Sir Lawrence, the philosophy major, seems to understand it's all about improving. The All-Pac-10 performer so far has had some monster battles with the Trojans' All-America tackle Sam Baker. Jackson's rage spilled over to starting tackle Kyle Williams, who had his hands full trying to contain Lawrence of Inglewood.
The Obvious – Most observers continue to marvel at the athletic ability of sophomore offensive guard Chilo Rachal.
The Not So Obvious – It wouldn't be a stretch to say that Chilo will be the next "great" Trojan offensive lineman. While still not perfect, the former Dominguez standout seems to get better with each passing spring practice day. Rachal reminds us of former All-America guard Roy Foster. Foster, who came to SC as a fullback in an offensive guard's body, was probably faster than Chilo, but Chilo is showing the same type of strength and when he hits, boy, do defenders tend to go backwards.
The Obvious – With a truckload of stars, linebacker coach Ken Norton has to be the happiest educator on the team.
The Not So Obvious – As if you have forgotten, keep a sharp eye on sophomore Kaluka Maiava at linebacker. There is something about the way he flows to the ball and the pain he inflicts. Maiava has a lot of Matt Grootegoed in him and we expect to see plenty of No. 43 in the future.
The Obvious – Most agree from the early stages of spring practice that freshman safety Antwine Perez will certainly see the field early and perhaps often.
The Not So Obvious – An acknowledged "headhunter", we have yet to see one of Perez's neck-snapping hits. However, Saturday night's closed scrimmage may unleash the Camden Cracken. FYI, WeAreSC will be there to report any damage that Antwine inflicts.
The Obvious – Former Trojan All-America offensive guard Pat Howell and his lovely wife, Michelle, have been in attendance to watch their rapidly improving son, Nick, throw his helmet in the ring.
The Not So Obvious – It certainly got everybody's attention when Nick pancaked defensive tackle Chris Barrett and drove Barrett into the turf with vengeance. The former Fresno Bullard star is definitely making a move, and he continues to impress offensive line coach Pat Ruel. On Thursday Ruel was in heaven at his techniques used by Howell. At 260 pounds, it was that technique that dominated some of Nick Holt's defensive linemen, and Ruel made sure to tell the rest of his offensive clan. Thursday's Howell performance was so inspiring that Scott Williams, father of senior starting OT Kyle, had to cell-call Pat Howell, Nick's father and former Trojan All-American guard, with the dramatic chain of events. It will be no surprise here if Howell ends up as a mainstay backup, even at 260 pounds. When this kid adds another 30 pounds, look out below. The apple does not fall far from the tree.
The Obvious – Redshirt freshsman offensive tackle Charles Brown has made dramatic physical advances.
The Not So Obvious - Bigger, stronger, and looking like a right tackle, Brown may be ready as well to make a push for playing time in 2006. The former tight end only needs to sharpen his fundamentals, but it's only a matter of time before he makes his mark. While Brown is on the upswing, another talented offensive lineman, Thomas Herring, appears rusty from his year layoff. Herring has the tools and as we enter the second half of spring, it will be of great interest to watch this kid's development.
The Obvious – There is an old saying that says, "Be careful what you wish for, it might come true."
The Not So Obvious – That old saying might apply to fullback-turned-tailback Brandon Hancock. The junior mentioned to WeAreSC that he hopes Hershel Dennis hurries back and takes some of the running back load. Brandon, however, has looked great at tailback, reminding some of former Oklahoma All-America tailback Steve Owens of yesteryear. It should be no shock to those that have followed Hancock from his prep days at Clovis West when he was stud fullback, running for 1,280 yards and 1,600 all-purpose yards with 15 TDs. Not bad for a former high school valedictorian. Speaking of running backs, it was a shame that senior fullback Ryan Powdrell pulled up lame with a hamstring on Thursday. Place his name up on the list of impressive spring performers.
The Obvious – And finally, last weekend, a surprise party was held in honor of publisher Garry P's 40th birthday.
The Not So Obvious – Held at the swank south Orange County la casa of longtime Trojan "brother" Jeff Odekirk, we found out that the Boss has more than just the USC Trojans as his acknowledged zeal. Yep, Mr. WeAreSC has another passion and it's Elvis Presley and his music. In honor of that rock and roll passion, an Elvis impersonator showed up in the famed white, sequin outfit, sunglasses, jet-black hair, and fingers full of rings. Singing Hound Dog, Jailhouse Rock, and Suspicious Minds, the impersonator had Garry in Graceland heaven. How big a fan is Garry? Mr. Paskwietz revealed that he saved up money as a nine-year-old to actually pay to see The King in Las Vegas, so help me, Little Sister. Who needs Conquest when Can't Help Falling In Love With You will do?