O/NSO: Afterglow edition

With the February afterglow of another motherload of Trojan recruiting talent still burning brightly in the collegiate football galaxy, fans of the Cardinal and Gold will soon begin to turn their Tommy Trojan eyes to the month of March in anticipation of the opening of 2007 spring football practice.

The Obvious – With the February afterglow of another motherload of Trojan recruiting talent still burning brightly in the collegiate football galaxy, fans of the Cardinal and Gold will soon begin to turn their Tommy Trojan eyes to the month of March in anticipation of the opening of 2007 spring football practice.

The Not So Obvious – Meanwhile with little fanfare, the Trojan team, under nationally acclaimed strength coach Chris Carlisle, has begun those arduous early morning training sessions that will lead up to spring ball. It may not look pretty and there is little need for security guards to keep fans away from their heroes, but these rooster crowing sessions are the preface to the 2007 season and if the Trojans are to fulfill those national championship dreams, Camp Carlisle is the basic training in hopes of accomplishing those dreams.

The Obvious – The Trojans will commence spring practice on March 20.

The Not So Obvious – Okay, but for the record, the beginning of Trojans spring practice is actually one day ahead of the calendar's official first day of spring. The Trojan Huddle, the annual Coliseum Spring Game, is slated for Saturday, April 7, and there will be no Final Four conflict even if Coach Tim Floyd's surging Men of Troy hoopsters make the deepest of runs during March Madness.

The Obvious – Trojan running back and punt returner Desmond Reed received favorable news from doctors, according to Pete Carroll, who said test results on Desmond Reed's surgically-repaired knee showed some nerve regeneration has taken place.

The Not So Obvious – Reed certainly now intends to play again, and Trojan fans will continue to root hard as he regains his strength. However, Desmond may find a number of challengers to his punt return position like incoming freshman Joe McKnight, who was a major home run punt and kick return threat in the prep ranks. The one thing Desmond does understand is ball security and Carroll trusts Desmond's ability to hold on to the ball during returns. The fact that Desmond had a big punt return against the Irish certainly was a major stepping-stone in his return.

The Obvious – There has been much discussion that former heralded Arkansas freshman and prep phenom Mitch Mustain is strongly considering a transfer to Pete Carroll's program next fall.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO is amused at some of the fan apprehension over the possible relocation of Mustain, who visited the cardinal and gold this week and reportedly had a great visit.

Good readers, the Trojans were already bringing in two quarterbacks in this class anyway until Samson Szakacsy elected to join the ASU Sun Devils. The addition of Mustain would not change the numerical equation. All that really matters is that the Trojan coaching staff advised California Player of the Year Aaron Corp (photo) of the possibility of a possible Mustain transfer. Since Szakacsy was informed of that possibility, we assume that Corp was also given the information before he signed as well. Since when is it unethical to have two players a year apart battling for playing time? Trust the old O/NSO, Corp will more than hold his own against Mustain and anybody else is that part of the future competition.

The Obvious – The Trojans believe the place kicker of the future will be Nebraska transfer Jordon Congdon.

The Not So Obvious – In his 2005 Parade All-America bio, the magazine wrote, " Jordan Congdon of St. Augustine High in San Diego, Calif., tied the state record with 261 career points. He converted 11 of 13 field goals and booted 45 kickoffs into the end zone. Jordon has built homes for the poor in Mexico."

The Obvious – Trojan fans are still crowing over the recent signing of Parade Co-Player of the Year Joe McKnight from River Ridge, Louisiana.

The Not So Obvious – Trust the old O/NSO that nobody is more excited about the McKnight future windfall than the USC Ticket and Marketing Departments, both of whom know the future benefits of marquee Trojan players when it comes to filling up the Coliseum. So let's see, how long it takes before a No. 4 is being marketed upstairs in the Trojan Bookstore? Of course, that depends if McKnight is able to get his old high school uniform No. 4.

The Obvious - The NCAA football rules committee has recommended among other rule changes of returning to starting the clock on the snap after a change of possession, starting the clock on kickoffs after the ball is touched by the receiving team rather than when it is kicked, and moving the kickoff back to the 30-yard line.

The Not So Obvious – While the O/NSO applauds the probable changes, the one rule change that caught our attention is reducing the time of timeouts from 65 seconds to 30 seconds. How that plays with the folks in the world of television commercials is anybody's guess, but will that double the number of media called timeouts to achieve the number of needed commercials to "pay the bills?" What it could do is be the equivalent of basketball's 30-second timeout.

The Obvious – The Trojans hire former Saints and Raiders assistant John Morton as wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator.

The Not So Obvious – The Trojans fell short in the recruitment of wide receivers Deonte Thompson and Ahmad Paige, who selected Florida and Tennessee, respectively. Don't underestimate the loss of former wide receivers coach Lane Kiffin during the final stage of the recruiting process. Players want to know whom their position coach is and that recruiting position bond can really make a difference. In an earlier O/SNO, we wrote that coach Steve Sarkisian, the Trojans' first-year offensive coordinator, might have input into the receivers coaching selection. Yep, turns out that Sark and Morton coached together with the Raiders and that's not a bad thing when it comes to new coaching staff chemistry.

The Obvious – The Trojans annual Pro Timing Day has been scheduled for March 28, a Wednesday.

The Not So Obvious – Unlike last year, when the NFL tryout day was held during Junior Day and was open to the public, this year's exercise is closed to the public. Don't blame Pete Carroll because this was not his idea. In fact, it was such a brilliant idea to hold Pro Day during Junior Day that the NCAA thought was a bit too much of a recruiting advantage.

The Obvious – According to the USC Ticket Department, there are currently no new Trojan football season tickets available for the 2007 season.

The Not So Obvious – Yes, the O/NSO got that confirmed with the ticket office Thursday afternoon. Of course if you think that getting home season tickets are tough, did you view that recent e-mail regarding away games? The e-mail read, "At this time, due to the limited quantity of tickets available to USC for away games, tickets will be available to members of the Scholarship Club, Committee, Cardinal & Gold and Women of Troy season ticket holders only. Order forms will be sent at a later date. Tickets remaining after requests are processed for Athletic Donors will be available to non-donor season ticket holders. Customers will be contacted by email regarding ticket availability." Oh well, there is some hope for the little guys.

The Obvious – As has been past practice, a number of prep all-stars made their announcements on national and regional television.

The Not So Obvious – We don't really have a problem with players making public announcements, although some of them are a little over the top. You could see the pressure of signing day in the eyes and words of tailback Joe McKnight as he made his intentions public as the state of Louisiana looked on in horror. Then there was Ontario Colony DB Omar Bolden's announcement on FSN that he was spurning the Trojans and heading for ASU. We had no problem with Omar's decision and wish him well, but the way he handled it with knocking off hats off the table and making a rather pointed derogatory remark about the Trojans left a little to be desired. Poor Lindsay Soto, the ultra talented host of the show, who was left to pick up the pieces. This, however, was a prime example why many folks are so adamant against such ballyhooed announcements.

The Obvious – Although the NFL draft is a couple of months away, there is much speculation when and where Trojans like All-America wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett and All-America center Ryan Kalil will be taken on the first day.

The Not So Obvious – According to a recent Sporting News early mock draft evaluation by their "War Room" scouts, neither Jarrett nor Kalil is be selected in the first round, a far cry from last year's draft that turned into a Trojan love fest. According to the mock draft, the only Pac-10 players selected on the firsts day were a pair of Cal Bears in running back Marshawn Lynch and corner Daymeion Hughes. Oh, the receivers in front of Jarrett were Georgia Tech's Calvin Johnson, Ohio State's Ted Ginn, and LSU's Dwayne Bowe.

The Obvious – The Sporting News also has come out this week with a recruiting article entitled "Where have we seen these guys before?" which attempts to link like-wise position talent from to 2006 to 2007.

The Not So Obvious - TSN says Trojan verbal RB Joe McKnight is like Florida's "RB" Percy Harvin, LB Chris Galippo is like LSU LB Jacob Cutrera, and DE Everson Griffen is like Louisville DE Peanut Whitehead. Don't' know if Everson will be too thrilled to be compared to a peanut. The TSN recruiting spread also touts Trojan incoming QB Aaron Corp by writing, "A dual threat, Corp likely will redshirt in 2007 but has the talent to beat out former uber-recruit Mark Sanchez in '08."

The Obvious – It was a brilliant Trojan public relations idea for fans to be able to view Pete Carroll's recruiting press conference through the use of Trojans official web site and streaming to your computer.

The Not So Obvious – However, those that have Macintosh computers were left out of the CSTV steam, and there was a large number of fans that were incensed that their "Mac" couldn't bring in Carroll's recruiting press conference.

The Obvious – Junior Sherman Oaks linebacker Anthony McDonald (6-3, 220) will be a highly recruited prospect next year and is the son of former Trojan linebacker Mike McDonald.

The Not So Obvious – Daddy Mike was an inside backer out of Burbank Burroughs High, who played for the Cardinal and Gold from 1976-79 and became quite a story after his Trojan playing career. Mike once told the NY Times that he was doing ''a lot of beer drinking and fishing'' when the then Los Angeles Rams called him. After regular long snapper Doug Barnett suffered a knee injury, the Rams were desperate to find a replacement, so desperate that John Robinson, the former Trojan coach and Rams' head man, called McDonald, who had never played pro ball and hadn't performed since the 1980 Rose Bowl game. Mike, who had been a part-time insurance salesman and had ambitions of becoming a fireman, dropped those plans and eventually played against the Dallas Cowboys in an NFL playoff game. The money he was paid for that NFL playoff game? Oh, the "massive" sum of $8,810. On the recruiting front, Mike's son has already been offered by Notre Dame and spoken with Charlie Weis, but Anthony indicates will be attending Junior Day at Troy. Well, can Anthony snap? Pete Carroll could always use a good snapper and you know what it all led to for the elder McDonald.

The Obvious – The Trojans understandably appear to have that proverbial "log jam" at tailback.

The Not So Obvious – If there is one recruit at the tailback position that could even be classified as flying under the radar it's Arkansas running back Broderick Green. The O/NSO says Trojan fans should really keep an eye out for this stud that some compare to Ricky Bell and Sam Cunningham. Broderick could be a combo of the new Trojan running back legends along with his own style. One thing that is a certain, he is the biggest and probably the most physical back that Pete Carroll has recruited, including LenDale White. It is that size (6-2, 230) combined with some wiggle, raw power and surprising speed that intrigues us.

The Obvious – Fans and coaches are always looking for a sign that their school is going to be the institution of choice come signing day.

The Not So Obvious –- When Louisiana superstar running back Joe McKnight walked into the gym to make his announcement, he was wearing a red sweater and a gold tie. For LSU fans that know the Tigers colors are purple and gold, McKnight's choice of signing day wearing apparel was not a good sign. FYI, LSU's original colors were supposed to be blue and white, but in anticipating playing Tulane in their first game, QB Ruffin Pleasant and head coach Charles Coates couldn't find the appropriate colors to decorate their locker room in New Orleans due to Mardi Gras. They had to decorate their locker room with purple and gold streamers and that's the tale of the Bengal Tiger colors.

The Obvious – One of the highlights of the recruiting season is the popular WeAreSC recruiting dinners that are presented annually near signing day.

The Not So Obvious – While fans that attended either the Papadakis Taverna in San Pedro or the J.T. McCormick and Schmidts in Irvine, the banquet menus were as different as their city locals. Steak was the order of the evening at The Taverna while chicken/fish was the Orange County offering in Irvine. Steak at The Taverna? What do you expect when the owner, John Papadakis, is a former physical linebacker? Linebackers are meat eaters. Quarterbacks do fish and chicken. However, The Taverna trumped M&S, which received fine reviews, by offering desert with a very tasty cake.

The Obvious – And finally, it there anybody happy with the new Scout.com message boards on our little piece of cyberspace?

The Not So Obvious – Our good WeAreSC subscribers should know that from the O/NSO right up to the organization's penthouse of WeAreSC aren't pleased either. As you probably have noticed, the O/NSO likes to highlight names, places, and quotes in our little cubbyhole on the site, but we have had problems doing so with our new format. Oh well, sometimes change is good; this just wasn't one of those "sometimes." Okay, let's turn a negative into a positive. Only a little more than four more weeks till spring practice. Feeling better already.


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