USC recruiting train rolls on

Well, one thing that has been made clear during these recent Army week practices is that the USC Trojan recruiting machine is going as strong as ever. The Trojan verbals, and other players still looking at USC, are among the most dominant players gathered in San Antonio and there is a definite buzz going around about the kind of class being assembled this year to wear the Cardinal and Gold.

This should be no major surprise to the college football world as the Trojans have put together the top recruiting class in the nation for three straight years. Could it be four in a row? It certainly looks that way as it will probably come down to another USC vs Florida battle for the mythical recruiting crown, a title that was won last year by the Trojans by a slim margin over the Gators following a late verbal from wide receiver Vidal Hazelton.

A quick glance at the Army Bowl practices shows that the Trojans have already received verbals from two players who have been the talk of the camp for the West team; LB Chris Galippo and DE Everson Griffen. Both players are ranked as the #1 player in the nation at their respective positions, as is West team center Kris O'Dowd, another Trojan verbal. Galippo and Griffen have been all over the place causing havoc during practices and the East team should have their hands full on Saturday trying to stop this duo. O'Dowd has been impressive in his switch to center, a position he has never played before.

The Trojans are also represented in San Antonio this week by RB Marc Tyler (#2 at his position but will miss the game due to injury), OT Martin Coleman (#5 at his position but will also miss the game due to injury), OG James Wilson (#2 at his position), RB Broderick Green (#6 at his position) and Marshall Jones (#11 at his position).

Among the players still being pursued by USC who are taking part in the Army game include DT Marvin Austin (#1 at his position), RB Joe McKnight (#4 at his position), WR Deonte Thompson (#5 at his position) and CB Donovan Warren (#4 at his position).

That is basically an All-Star team unto themselves of players who are either committed to USC or are still considering the Trojans at this late stage of the recruiting battle.

There is no doubt the Trojans have become a recruiting juggernaut under head coach Pete Carroll, a coach who has established himself as one of the best recruiting coaches in the history of college football. Carroll has also benefited from two coaches that have headed up those recruiting efforts; Ed Orgeron and Lane Kiffin.

Orgeron was a holdover coach from the Paul Hackett era who helped keep the recruiting in tact while Carroll was being hired and putting together a staff. That first class netted such future stars as Matt Leinart, Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson. Orgeron had a fiery, intense style to his brand of recruiting and it has translated well to the University of Mississippi where he took over as head coach two years ago and has won some recruiting battles that not many experts expected him to win.

When Orgeron left, Carroll turned control of recruiting over to Kiffin and the Trojans haven't missed a beat. Kiffin served an important role during the early years of the Carroll era as the head of national recruiting, a job title which basically meant that the other coaches on the staff split up the state of California while Kiffin was responsible for coordinating all the out of state efforts. When Kiffin started showing up at Florida spring jamboree games, many coaches from that state said it was the first time they could ever remember seeing a USC coach making the trip. Slowly but surely those long plane rides paid off with such talented players as Mike Williams, Keith Rivers and Dwayne Jarrett making their decisions to head west to play for the Trojans.

At the same time Kiffin was named the recruiting director, Carroll also made him the co-offensive coordinator with duties as the primary play caller for the Trojan offense. That double duty forced Kiffin to give up his national recruiting job in order to serve as the overseer of the entire recruiting process but he still kept his hand involved on a day to day basis while being responsible for the Orange County area of Southern California, traditionally a hot-bed of future Trojan prospects. This year the Trojans received verbal commits from the top four players in the Orange County area (Galippo, Coleman, Aaron Corp and Michael Reardon) and already have commits from two of the top players for the Class of 2008 from OC in D.J. Shoemate and Matt Kalil.

"USC is on a run that has never been witnessed before in college football, as far as recruiting is concerned", says Scout national recruiting analyst Jamie Newberg. "Nobody can touch what they are doing right now and it's not even close. I thought Ed Orgeron was one of the best coaches I have ever seen when it comes to recruiting and now Lane Kiffin has stepped into the role nicely. What's really impressive to me is that Lane has held the dual role of offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator. Either one of those jobs are tough responsibilities and to handle them both at the same time is something else. Usually you see the recruiting coordinator also serve as the tight end coach or special teams coach, something that doesn't have as much of a workload. I give Kiffin credit, he's done a great job."

With just under a month to go before signing day it's clear that Trojan fans can expect another banner recruiting class to add to the already talented roster coming back next year. Stay tuned to Scout.com for all the latest recruiting news as the remaining prospects on the USC wish list prepare to make their decisions, it should make for some interesting times and, if history is any judge, the Trojans will end up once again at the top of the recruiting world.


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