But while the line of the day came from one of these talent evaluators, it came well before that diagnosis. Before the players hit the field, a discussion broke out amongst them as to how this scrimmage would be handled. Would they be keeping score? Would they use the full field? Would they be able to make my head explode before the first whistle?
To make a long story short, the answers to those questions were "no," "yes," and "absolutely." The last answer was made clear when one of the kids turned to his friends during the "how will the scrimmage unfold" discussion and stated matter-of-factly. "I think it's going to be the offense against the defense."
It's a good thing he ended up being right. The offense against the donors would have been severely one-sided.
The Best Game of Telephone: Before practice started, whispers started making their way around Howard Jones Field saying that "Dwayne Jarrett was reinstated." They stayed whispers until Lane Kiffin, during a wide receiver blocking drill, addressed Dwayne Jarrett as "Mr. Reinstated."
That was what I needed to hear to change my way of thinking about that situation from rumor to fact. Although, I was a little upset that the whispers didn't continue. I was looking forward to meeting up with someone across the field after practice and having them tell me, "Drain parrot was tree naked."
The Trojans' Safety Net: During Wednesday's scrimmage, Josh Pinkard didn't receive a lot of playing time, due to the fact that there are several freshmen who saw time at free safety and Pinkard is someone the Trojans can ill-afford to lose to injury. Arguably the Trojans' most important defender in 2005, Pinkard looks to become a leader for the defense this season.
Asked about the defense's performance in the first scrimmage, Pinkard said, "It went pretty well. We've got some things to work on. We'll see. I can't really tell too much from just watching it on the sideline, but when we get the film, we'll be able to critique our mistakes and things like that. Everybody's going to get better, but it'll come down to watching film."
Given an opportunity to watch Taylor Mays, Allen Bradford, Antwine Perez and Alfred Rowe in the safety positions, Pinkard said, "We have a nice group of incoming freshmen. They looked pretty good out here today. So we'll see how much they can beef up and how much pounding they can take during a game and we'll go from there."
While Pinkard saw the most time at cornerback last season, his move back to safety this year should help solidify the defense. "Safety is my natural position. I played corner last year because we needed help filling spots due to injury. I think I did pretty well at it, but I feel very comfortable at safety. I can play safety and corner. Nothing is especially hard at either position, but with the depth we have at corner, the coaches just don't need me there right now."
Lining up next to Pinkard will be new starter Kevin Ellison. "It's been great," Pinkard said of playing next to Ellison. "Kev and I have been playing together since last spring. We got into a couple of games together last season. It's like we're on the same page. We know what each other is thinking so there's not much that we're missing back there. That's the best thing about playing next to another safety who knows what he's doing."
Replacing four starters in the defensive backfield would be a monumental task for most defenses, but the Trojans are well-equipped to do just that. Joining Pinkard and Ellison in that backfield will be Terrell Thomas. "We're very excited about having Terrell back. He was supposed to be a big factor last year, but he got hurt during the game against Arkansas and that was a big loss to the team. But he's back now; he's ready to go and he's making a big impact. We'll see how he does this season."
Pinkard knows that with the kind of renovations going on in the defensive backfield, this season will be a challenging one. But that doesn't stop him from setting goals that Trojan fans have become accustomed to. "We want to win the Pac-10 and own the Rose Bowl," he said. "If we get to the National Championship game then obviously that's great."
"As a personal goal," he said. "I just want to make sure that the DB corps is ready for anything that comes our way, and hopefully everybody stays healthy."
That is a wish that will be echoed by countless Trojan fans.