O/NSO - Celestial edition

With the celestial recruiting heavens shining down on celebrated Goux Gate, Pete Carroll's USC Trojan football program was blessed this week with verbal commitments from two of the country's most glamorous prep stars as Oaks Christian running back Marc Tyler and Orange Lutheran lineman Michael Reardon symbolized a direct message from Los Angeles to South Bend – stay away from our house.

The Obvious – With the celestial recruiting heavens shining down on celebrated Goux Gate, Pete Carroll's USC Trojan football program was blessed this week with verbal commitments from two of the country's most glamorous prep stars as Oaks Christian running back Marc Tyler and Orange Lutheran lineman Michael Reardon symbolized a direct message from Los Angeles to South Bend – stay away from our house.

The Not So Obvious – With the pain of the Matt Leinart's last-second killer touchdown still deep in the bonnet of the Irish, don't let anybody fool you, the verbals by Tyler and Reardon, coming on the heels of Jimmy Clausen's circus announcement in South Bend, was also a direct message by Pete Carroll to Notre Dame's Charlie Weis that southern California still belongs to Southern California. The announcement by Marc Tyler is probably as significant for its timing as was the 2003 signing by Whitney Lewis that he was spurning Florida State for the Cardinal and Gold, thus clamping shut the going-out-of-state pipeline that saw the local SoCal talent heading for outposts across the country.

The Obvious – Oaks Christian running back Marc Tyler (6-0, 215) is the son of former UCLA running back great, Wendell Tyler.

The Not So Obvious – So what kind of a running back are the Trojans getting in young Tyler? According to Scout.com, Tyler is the second best back in the land. However, Wendell and Marc are as different in style as Reggie Bush and LenDale White. Daddy Wendell could be considered more a Reggie Bush type of back – fast, quick, the ability to change directions in a heartbeat. Wendell is one of UCLA's most explosive backs ever. Marc, the son, is more along the lines of a LenDale White. A source close to the Oaks Christian program told us that when you watch Marc in action, it doesn't look like he is running fast, but nobody seems to tackle him. Some see him as a LenDale White while others like WeAreSC's Brian Mathews see him more as another Chauncey Washington. As for the White comparison, is it such a bad comparison to be compared to the Trojans' all-time touchdown maker?

The Obvious – Notre Dame and UCLA are the Trojans' most intense rivals, and the Trojans get the twosome back-to-back at the end of the 2006 season.

The Not So Obvious – In one big announcement, the "Trojans" Marc Tyler perhaps gave a foreshadowing of things to come this season by shunning both the Irish and Bruins, and it doesn't get much better for Trojan fans with a recruiting twin-killing of Troy's most malevolent rivals.

The Obvious – Orange Lutheran stud linemen Michael Reardon (6-6, 255) has given a verbal commit to be a Trojan.

The Not So Obvious – We had a chance to talk with Reardon right after he gave his Sunday video interview to our Johnny Curren and Garry P., and the kid seemed almost on Cloud 9. We asked him how Carroll presented him with the good news. Michael told the O/NSO " Coach Carroll said, ‘ Take a walk with me.' He then said he was offering me a scholarship and I could just feel the intensity. I started to feel tingly." Michael told us that his mom attended Orange High and his father went to Anaheim Canyon and that his dad didn't play sports. However, the OC product said his uncle, Ed Brown, did play ball at Servite before blowing out a knee his senior year. At the time of our interview with Big Mike, he told us he would visit Notre Dame. Of course the rest is history and let the Irish chorus begin, "When Irish eyes ‘aren't' smiling, the whole world….."

The Obvious – It is a real source of debate when sites like Scout.com come out with their "star list" of national and regional rankings for the 2007 seniors.

The Not So Obvious – In the just released Scout.com's West Hot 100, Orange Lutheran's Michael Reardon is ranked No. 22 in our area. Plezzzzzz. Depending on the position you see this kid playing, offensively or defensively, in the unreleased O/NSO West En Fuego 100, Reardon is ranked higher and sometime stars belong in the sky. In other words, this kid is underrated and the Trojans, Irish, Nebraska, and Stanford tended to agree. Michael's performance that led to is verbal with a commanding defensive performance reminded us of the impression that Alex Parsons, the Trojans incoming frosh from Irvine Woodbridge, made in last year's linemen camp.

The Obvious – According to Scout.com's Scott Schrader's interview with Michael's mother, Jennifer Reardon, "We are extremely excited. Michael loves USC, loves the coaches and he's really excited. He woke up this morning, put on his USC shirt and called Coach Carroll."

The Not So Obvious – Now here's one kid that didn't get in a limo or pulled a cap out of bag with TV exposure. Michael simply put on a USC shirt and called the coach. Do you think when he put on "the shirt" the Reardon family got the message? How unique an announcement in this day of high publicity announcements. Just call it old school and from what we saw last Sunday, this kid plays like an old-school player. Coach McKay would have loved it.

The Obvious – Without a doubt, the Trojans and the Fighting Irish are back to their old tug-of-war days over southland recruits.

The Not So Obvious – Don't know about you, but we kind of like it when both the Trojans and the Irish are on their game. It makes the on and off the field wins that much sweeter and the losses that much more painful. We were told by Orange Lutheran's Michael Reardon, right after Pete Carroll had presented the Sunday offer, that he had planned on taking a trip to Notre Dame next fall. Michael said that he needed to talk it over the Trojan offer with his parents. With the outcome now public knowledge, it reminds Trojan fans of the famous Jackie Gleason line, "How sweet it is!"

The Obvious – The great debate over the NFL using the Coliseum continued this week when the Los Angeles Times tried to educate the masses to where everybody stands. However, one thing is understood according to figures released by the Times and thanks to the Pete Carroll's soaring cardinal and gold comet of a program, Troy's home turnout has risen from an average 57,744 to 90, 812 from 2001 to 2005, a 60% increase and we're no just whistling Fight On.

The Not So Obvious – You can talk all you want about the NFL and its gamesmanship with Los Angeles and the Coliseum Commission, but it's the Trojans' surging attendance that has convinced the NFL boys in New York City that there is life in The Grand Old Lady. Suddenly, the Coliseum is a wonderful place to play. If 90,000 show up at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday night in the inner city, there must be some enchanting charisma emanating from the historic peristyle end. No, sir, the Trojans dominance of college football and the wave after wave of humanity flocking its way to Exposition Park gives no-doubt evidence that this venue is as valuable as Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, when the team is winning.

The Obvious – Both John David Booty and Mark Sanchez began throwing in this week's "volunteer" team workouts.

The Not So Obvious – With both Trojan quarterbacks working out and their separate issues behind them, there isn't a Trojan fan on the planet who doesn't feel the added excitement in June. Perhaps more importantly, the message has been sent back to Fayetteville and beyond that Pete Carroll's men have turned their attention to where it should be, back on the playing field. By the way, is that really sophomore linebacker Kaluka Maiava in that new ultra-short haircut? Next thing we know, his movie star locks will be part of one of those publicized Trojan "auctions." Let the bidding begin.

The Obvious – If the Trojans and their massive following had played in a venue other than the Coliseum, do you really believe the NFL would still have been no-brainer persuaded to reconsider the Coliseum?

The Not So Obvious – With the Rams, Raiders, Bruins, Chargers, and Dodgers long gone, do you think that the Coliseum could have survived without the Trojans? Let's face it, WeAreSC subscribers, without the team with the white horse, it's a laugher to consider the NFL would return to the Coliseum because of Metallica, The Rolling Stones, and Evel Knievel motorcycle jumps. As USC Senior Vice President Todd Dickey told the Times, "What would have happened to the place without us?"

The Obvious – For those interested in learning more about the Coliseum in general, it has its own website at www.lacoliseum.com.

The Not So Obvious – Need some evidence how the Coliseum is also living off the success of the Trojans? The front page on the Coliseum web site has a picture of a sold out USC home game, complete with colored end zones.

The Obvious – Parade Magazine, a Sunday insert in papers across the country, is best known to college football fans for its annual All-America prep teams.

The Not So Obvious – Parade also has Walter Scott's Personality Parade, a celebrity question and answer session with the public. One of this week's questions for Parade came from a Luke Porter from Roanoke, Virginia. Porter asked, " Why would quarterback Matt Leinart, the 2004 Heisman Trophy-winner, who is going to make millions playing for the Arizona Cardinal, hook up with a total air-head like Paris Hilton? Parade answered, " Because he likes tall blondes and L.A's club scene. Next question?"

The Obvious – Steve Watson was one of the Denver Broncos all-time great receivers, whose son, Steve Watson Jr., a senior at Denver Mullen High, was a tight end performer in last Saturday's Skills Camp.

The Not So Obvious – Steve Sr, who played in two Super Bowls, one Pro Bowl, and had three 1,000-yard season, is now the receivers coach for the Broncos. Daddy was an interested sideline observer and quietly tried to encourage his offspring as he competed against two other Trojan tight end candidates. While not yelling and screaming at his son, you could just see the intensity in dad's eyes as he very quietly gave Junior some concentrated encouragement.

The Obvious – Two other tight end candidates at the skills camp were a pair of Trojan legacy performers in Santa Margarita Serra High's Mikhail Marinovich and Mountain View St. Francis recitalist, Rhett Ellison.

The Not So Obvious –Marinovich, of course, is the son of former Trojan All-America tackle, Marv, who was a mainstay on the 1962 national champions and Ellison's daddy, was the intense linebacker Riki Gray (Ellison), who played on coach John Robinson's 1978 national champs. Riki was also another quiet sideline observer, and we should add that Mikhail had his half-brother and former Trojan quarterback, Todd Marinovich, supporting the "evaluation" cause.

The Obvious – It was interesting to watch both Mihail Marinovich and Rhett Ellison compete, as both are different type tight end recruiting candidates.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO found Ellison to be not be nearly as quick and athletic as Marinovich, who has a very lean body and appears the superior athlete. However, Ellison plays with his daddy's intensity and it was quite apparent that this kid shines in yards after a catch. In other words, he doesn't go down without some folks hanging on for the ride. Depending on the number of tight ends the Trojans wish to invite to the big club, how would you like to have to make a decision between two sons of former star players from national championship teams? Anybody got the number of King Solomon?

The Obvious – Louisiana super back Joe McKnight from New Orleans Curtis was the main attraction at the skills camp and created quite a buzz by his unexpected attendance.

The Not So Obvious – Naturally the Trojan coaching staff was in a Full Monty over McKnight's appearance and the Curtis High star did not disappoint. The key to this kid's recruiting is, by his own admission, "family" in Los Angeles. Translation: His girlfriend lives in our lovely area and she watched the obvious prep All-America as he went through his paces. It will be very hard to get this kid from going to LSU, but Cupid works in strange ways as the Trojan coaching staff as been victims of the opposite results when the "hometown" honey of an out-of-state recruit was stronger than the sirens call of Pete Carroll.

The Obvious – One of the most impressive defensive back performers on Saturday was Ontario Colony's Omar Bolden, a finely buffed corner with impressive aggressive skills.

The Not So Obvious – There was no bigger collision on Saturday when running back Joe McKnight took a swing pass, shook two defenders with some New Orleans jambalaya moves, but was greeted by Bolden in a collision that could be heard all the way to Bourbon Street. It was the type of crash in which it was an act of the football gods that neither player didn't explode into a big pool of blood. After the smashing, WeAreSC staffer George Young commented, "That's called going for the scholarship."

The Obvious – Trojan verbal and Servite High super junior D.J. Shoemate was at Saturday's festivities, which drew a large number of smiles and approving nods from the various Trojan onlookers.

The Not So Obvious – Make not mistake about it, not only is Shoemate a "man" physically, but his maturity in dealing with his early commitment is equally impressive, especially for those of you that had a chance to watch the WeAreSC interview with D.J. One thing that was quite apparent on Saturday was the "networking" the future prep All-America was doing, talking it up with a number of potential Trojans, including New Orleans Joe McKnight. When not checking his cell phone for text messages, D.J. was "working the floor" like a master recruiter. While he plays wide receiver on offense, we believe that running back will be his final destination and with a name like D.J. Shoemate, it just begs for a chance to part of Tailback U.

The Obvious – Norco two-way star Jordan Campbell, a linebacker/fullback prospect, participated in both camps.

The Not So Obvious – Every year you come across a recruit that so badly wants to be a Trojan that he will almost do anything short of dressing like Tommy Trojan. Campbell has attended everything and anything cardinal and gold, and we will break some rules to root for this kid to get the final "ride" if necessary. It's enough that he looks like a Troy Polamalu stand-in, and over the weekend he played running back, linebacker, defensive end, and showed versatility of nothing else. It could be a bumpy ride for Jordan, but let's hope this one ends up on the other side of the rainbow.

The Obvious – The Trojans are pursuing Gardena Serra defensive lineman DaJohn Harris, who dominated in his afternoon performance on Sunday.

The Not So Obvious – This was a less "vocal" Harris than we saw earlier at the Scout Camp at Citrus College in Glendora. The kid was all business on Sunday and it showed. Maybe it was the Trojan coaches checking character and personality, but Harris brought his "A" game to Brian Kennedy Field and was the best of the best. The O/NSO knew this kid was the benchmark as the Trojan coaches tested potential offensive line recruits by having them face Mr. Harris. We have reason to believe when it's all said and done, he will be a Trojan and it should be interesting to see if the rest of the nation catches on before those all-star game selections are made. Mr. Real Deal is the real deal, at least he was on Sunday.

The Obvious – The camps brought out the best not only in the players, but with the coaches doing the instruction.

The Not So Obvious – During one intense exchange on Sunday, defensive line coach Nick Holt and offensive line coach Pat Ruel drew a big smile from their boss, Peter Carroll, as they argued the merits of a battle between two of their charges. Holt has continued to be an upgrade in personality and intensity as the Trojans defensive coach, and this is no knock on Jethro Franklin, last year's DL coach. Holt had the campers eating out of his hand when he reminded them that they were "all" Trojan for the next few hours and that you can be a Duck or Bear for four years, but you are a Trojan for life. At the end of both weekend sessions, Carroll also told the campers they are now, in a small way, Trojans and encouraged them to follow the team on television and in person and support the Cardinal and Gold. It was done very professionally.

The Obvious – Two impressive receivers that stood out in the skills camp were San Diego's Markques Simas and San Lorenzo's Micheal Calvin.

The Not So Obvious – While Simas is a little more polish in his game, don't count out Calvin, who is relatively new to playing football ( 1 yr.). If Calvin doesn't become a Trojan, there are a number of high-powered Pac-10 teams that will be more than happy to have this big receiver in their lineup. In our chat with Simas, we found him to be very engaging with a good head on his shoulders. He was impressive on Saturday. Simas will apparently have one last chance to wow the Trojan coaching staff as he plans on participating in the all-important Rising Seniors Camp, the third week in June. At the end of the camp on Saturday, Nick Holt, who recruits San Diego, told Simas that he had helped himself.

The Obvious – The Sporting News College Football Yearbook is out and the Trojans are ranked No. 6.

The Not So Obvious – The SNCFY believes the Trojans might have the best defense in the country, but questions replacing two Heisman Trophy winners. The Irish are ranked No. 1 followed by Ohio State, Auburn, LSU, and West Virginia. Wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett made the first-team All-America list along with defensive end Lawrence Jackson. Offensive linemen Sam Baker and Ryan Kalil both made second-team honors. The Trojans' receiving unit was named best in the nation, but the SNCFY placed coach Ken Norton's vaunted linebacking unit a surprising No. 5 (Penn State was No. 1). Very surprising to the O/NSO was that Nick Holt's defensive line was ranked No. 2 behind Florida. The Trojans are (yawn) picked to win the Pac-10.

The Obvious – Phil Steele's popular 328-page College Football Preview has hit the stands and Mr. Steele positions the Trojans in the national No. 4 slot behind Oklahoma, Auburn, and Louisville.

The Not So Obvious – Louisville? Louisville?? Louisville??? Before we start the laugh machine, let it be noted that Steele also has the Arkansas Razorbacks at No.13 in the country and writes, " The Hogs have 19 returning starters, making them one of the most veteran teams in the NCAA," and "I have them #1 on my Most Improved list." Hurry, somebody call Heritage Hall and cancel the game. Who turned out the lights and let the Boggie Man out?

The Obvious – The usual format for most of these college football magazines is to name a number of All-Pac-10 teams.

The Not So Obvious - Before we all take this too seriously, Steele's 2006 Pac-10 team includes Trojan guard Jeff Byers on the all-conference second team and linebacker Brian Cushing on the first team. Byers hasn't played in a year and Cushing is coming off an injury. We won't diss this prognosticator, but already naming Jeff, who Trojan fans hope will live up to his high school hype, seems a bit premature, although offensive line coach Pat Ruel probably thinks it's good for morale. Next thing we know, one of these mags will give their All-Pac-10 teams for 2008 and the names Tyler and Reardon will show up and maybe that isn't such a stretch. You can never have a too-early all-conference team.

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