The challenge for me in writing on this subject is that present facts are always cloaked by privacy issues and the future is never clearly foreseeable. Projections have to be elastic when you are dealing with the actions of young males of college age. Surprises are frequent.
With that said, let's look at what the numbers are for next fall and then we will move onto the scholarships for 2007. After the first couple of years I realized that competent people frequently differed on their scholarship counts because they were counting (or not counting) different players. To avoid that, I now identify by name those who are included in my count.
Here's my list of players from the spring roster that had scholarships last season plus the three mid-year enrollees. Each position list is followed [within square brackets] by the names of players who have been announced as having signed a Letter of Intent to enroll next fall.
After you add up the numbers for each position you will find that there are 88 and since we are only entitled to 85, some changes will be required.
Here is the list:
2 - Center: Kalil; Draper
6 - Guard: Malu, Spanos; Byers, Rachal, Radovich; [Heberer]
5 - Tackle: K. Williams; Baker; C. Brown; Herring; Howell
9 - Wide Receiver: Smith; McFoy; R. Ting; Jarrett; Turner; [Ausberry; Hazelton; Holland; Patterson]
6 - Tight End: Davis; D. Thompson; Miller; G. Washington; Vanderboom [McCoy]
10 - Tailback: Powdrell; Dennis; Reed; C. Washington; Coleman; Lewis; [Ashley; Johnson; Moody; Gable]
4 - Fullback: Hancock; Adewale; Brittingham; [Havili]
4 - Quarterback: Booty; McDonald; Sanchez; [Green]
8 - Defensive Tackle: Barrett; Ellis; Moala; Ashley; Spicer; Tofi; [B. Lewis; Parsons]
7 - Defensive End: Goodrum; Jackson; Morrow; Schweiger; Moore; Miles; [Simmons]
10 - Linebacker: Lua; Sartz; Rivers; T. Williams; Cushing; Maiava; Maualuga; L. Brown; [Morgan; Tatum]
8 - Safety: Pinkard; B. Ting; Ellison; W. Harris; Perez; [Bradford; Mays; Rowe]
6 - Corner Back: T. Thomas; C. Harris; McCurtis; K. Thomas; [Joseph; Wright]
3 - Special teams: Danelo; Van Blarcom; Collins
Obviously something has to change. I've listed some of the possibilities that occur to me:
1. Someone on the roster could drop out of school or transfer to another school. There have been rumors that Whitney Lewis was considering a transfer but when asked about it he said, "once a Trojan always a Trojan". So, I guess its not Whitney.
2. There was a rumor that, if Pete needed the scholarships, the Tings would be willing to pay their own tuition for their senior year. I've never heard about that rumor being pursued directly with them. Their increased prominence in Pete's plans for the team seems to make it unlikely.
3. Medical inactivation is always possible. In this option a scholarship player who is medically unable to compete signs an agreement to give up his athletic scholarship. Therefore he no longer counts against our quota of 85. He is then awarded a scholarship of another type that allows him to complete his studies at the University. Mike Ross from Florida took that coarse after the team doctors would not approve him to continue in the program. Both Hershel Dennis and Desmond Reed have injuries that could be career ending but it is premature for anyone to reach that judgment for them at this stage of their recuperations.
4. There is the "removal from school for disciplinary reasons" that impacted the careers of Winston Justice and Marcell Allmond. They each missed seasons but since we apparently did not have 85 players on scholarship in those years, there is no way for me to deduce whether their scholarship could have been used by someone else. I know of no player with a pending disciplinary issue of this magnitude but in collage, as you remember, there is always another party weekend coming.
5. Last year several walk-ons were awarded scholarships. Those could have been with an understanding that they were for only one year. If so then Mike Brittingham FB could revert to walk-on status. I do not know whether that is likely or not. Mike played a lot in spring practice and as I recall from last season, he has been a consistent contributor on special teams.
6. There are rumors that three of the incoming players on my list have not yet completed their academic requirements for admission. Those facts are private so we can't know for sure who they are or if they are likely to eventually meet entrance requirements.
7. Gray-shirting: In the past we've asked selected incoming players to delay their enrollment until mid-year. This allows us to allocate their scholarship to the following year's class. This year, Walker Lee Ashley was a mid-year enrollee but for a different reason.
8. Academic probation is always possible for a number of players. But, I don't think that status frees a scholarship since the player remains in school.
9. Pete could refuse to renew someone's scholarship or kick them off the team for some good reason, but I don't see that happening and it is not worth talking about.
Obviously we can't give out more than 85 scholarships next fall. So something is going to happen to at least three players on the above list. I bet Pete already has this all figured out but the answer is not apparent to this writer. It is going to be interesting to watch the process.
Another interesting wrinkle is the persistent rumor that there are players transferring-in next fall from other schools. If those rumors are true and those players have been promised a scholarship, it compounds our dilemma.
Now for the LOI day in February 2007. We expect to have the following 14 players use their final year of eligibility this fall. They are: Kalil, K. Williams, Vanderboom, McFoy, Smith, R. Ting, B. Ting, Dennis, Hancock, Powdrell, Goodrum, Tofi, Lua, and Sartz. Hershel Dennis may apply for a 6th year so if that were to be approved, the operative number for future scholarships from this category would be only 13.
My understanding of the "early draft agreement" between the NCAA and the NFL is that it requires a player to be at least 3 years out of high school in order to enter the draft. This puts us at risk with 24 juniors and 7 sophomores who could potentially leave for the draft.
The juniors eligible to declare for the NFL draft would be: Spanos, Malu, Baker, Radovich, F. Davis, Thompson, Jarrett, W. Lewis, Reed, C. Washington, Adewale, Booty, McDonald, Barrett, Ellis, Jackson, Morrow, Schweiger, Rivers, T. Williams, Pinkard, T. Thomas, Danelo, Collins, and G. Washington.
The sophomores eligible to declare for the NFL draft would be: Byers, Draper, Rachal, Miller, Miles, Moala, and McCurtis.
NFL draft decisions by current juniors and sophomores are, in my opinion, dependent on a very high on-field performance by them and by the team. At this early date, I make no predictions as to who may go and who will stay. But, here's a hypothetical answer to the question about how many scholarships we will be able to give next year. Let's say all 14 seniors are joined by 2 other unforeseen openings [academic, medical, other] and 3 early NFL draft decisions. That would make 19 LOI's available for next February.