O/NSO: Pads edition

The USC Trojans begin the second week of spring football on Tuesday, but Sunday's first day in pads provided a showcase full of fun and intrigue and judging by the large turnout of fans on Brian Kennedy and Howard Jones Field, it was a highly successful conclusion to the first week of activity.

The Obvious – The USC Trojans begin the second week of spring football on Tuesday, but Sunday's first day in pads provided a showcase full of fun and intrigue and judging by the large turnout of fans on Brian Kennedy and Howard Jones Field, it was a highly successful conclusion to the first week of activity.

The Not So Obvious – There is nothing quite like the intensity and purpose when the Trojans don their full armor either for the first day of spring or the first day of fall practice. The large gathering of fans both on Sunday and last Friday was just what Coach Pete Carroll likes to see, and the old coach was quoted this week in local papers as saying that by having fans in attendance, it picks up the intensity of practice and let's the players again experience a live audience of fans. Open practice might not play well in Columbus, South Bend, or maybe even Lincoln, but in sunny Southern California, nobody knows better than Pete Carroll when it comes to the local environment, especially when it all revolves around recruits, family members, and the curious.

The Obvious – Former Trojan All-America and 1979 Lombardi Award winner offensive guard Brad Budde was in attendance on Sunday morning.

The Not So Obvious – Another one of those never-aging Trojan football players, Brad spent time before the "official" horn for practice speaking, gesturing, and imparting All-America knowledge to current starting junior left guard Jeff Byers. There is the old argument that players from Budde's era (late 1970s) could not play in today's college game. Wrong, Beano Cook breath. Budde actually dwarfed Byers (6-3, 285), and it is quite apparent that Budde could play in any era. With today's Chris Carlisle weight program, Brad would still be an All-American. For the record, Budde played at 6-5, 253.

The Obvious – As current WeAreSC stories and video have given an early account, one of the more impressive spring performers has been redshirt freshman wide receiver David Ausberry, who has taken full advantage of his opportunity in the early going.

The Not So Obvious – Big "D" has taken what he learned last year and has applied his reshirt knowledge for a successful early beginning to spring ball. Talking with the O/NSO, David said, Redshirting was not frustrating at all. I was able to learn and trust the system, so it was no problem at all. Right now, I am coming in at 6-foot-5 and 225-pounds. My goal this spring and next year is to contribute and get playing time. As far as the competition, there is plenty of it and we push each other and we help each other out in learning the routes."

The Obvious – A number of the heralded Trojan secondary are being held out of spring ball to insure complete physical recovery from surgery.

The Not So Obvious – With players like Terrell Thomas and Kevin Ellison are the shelf, not only does it affect the secondary, but it also has a learning curve on the young Trojan receiving corp. David Ausberry told the O/NSO, "The best DB to me that I have faced is Terrell Thomas. He has really helped me develop. It really has helped playing him one-on-one in the past. During our practices, he'll tell me what I should do during certain situations when a defensive back does this or that. It really has helped me understand what the defense backs are doing."

The Obvious – The Trojans have an exciting new wide receivers coach in John Morton, who comes full of NFL experience.

The Not So Obvious – On Sunday, onlookers were wowed by Morton's intense instruction to his new wide receiver unit. During one drill, the coach liberally used a hand-held blocking pad to give each of his receivers a "love tap," which was what they could expect from an oncoming defensive back. A number of players seemed surprised at the intensity of the drill, but you could tell the respect was there. Morton got his point across about working the sidelines and lowering their shoulders for ensuing contact.

The Obvious – Sophomore defensive lineman Alex Parsons is returning to the full contact this week after recovering from an off-season meniscus mishap.

The Not So Obvious – For Alex, this coming week is full a reminder of all the hard work he has done to return from his injury. The former Irvine Woodbridge High standout told the O/NSO, "I tore it in an off-season workout. I was just kind of getting up and it just popped out and back in again. I will be back this week for full contact, and right now I've been just doing individual stuff."

The Obvious – A number of recruits were in attendance and all had wide eyes in seeing the Trojan work out in pads, with some, no doubt, wondering what the world of college football must be like.

The Not So Obvious – For Alex Parsons, he still remembers that opening night in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Alex recalled, "The first game at Arkansas, the first kickoff, I was kind of intimidated. That's a big ass stadium and you look up there in the rafters and you can't see any more people, but you know there is more people up there. It definitely wasn't Irvine Stadium. Once you got to play defense, you know, you look at the other guy in the eye and you know what you have to do. It about getting use to knowing what you have to do and being doing it out there."

The Obvious – This is the first full spring for Alex Parsons, but he won't forget his introduction to college football practice last fall, his first meeting with Trojan All-World tackle Sam Baker, and now his goals for the this spring.

The Not So Obvious – Alex said, "The first day was definitely intimidating and after that I got use to everything and got the technique down and then it became challenging going against certain players. Sam Baker is legit. I had to go against him every day on the service team. He's definitely one of the top offensive tackles in the nation. He learns so well, and you can't use the same move twice on him. I had to learn new moves on the dime. As for this spring, right now I am just trying to compete with everybody. I am told I am supposed to know every defensive line position. It's a challenge just trying to know the playbook, knowing each play, and knowing each assignment for each play. Right now, I am 6-foot-4, 285. I don't know my time in the 40 because we haven't been timed since high school."

The Obvious – One of the recruits in attendance was heralded Corona offensive lineman Max Tuioti-Mariner (6-3, 290), who spent time after practice on Sunday with Trojan freshman tackle Martin Coleman and then Pete Carroll.

The Not So Obvious – Tuioti-Mariner is the cousin of George Tuioti, a former signed Trojan defensive lineman/tight end out of Santa Ana High back in the late 1980s, whose career was immediately cut short by injury. George has been a respected varsity football coach for Bob Johnson's powerhouse Mission Viejo High program.

The Obvious – The Trojans are loaded at running, but one back who is showing increased productivity is sophomore Allen Bradford, who had big runs on Sunday and last Friday.

The Not So Obvious – On his goals for spring, Allen told the O/NSO, "I just want to learn my plays and get it down pat so I can go 100% and go full speed with everything I am able to do. After that, I am just trying to put myself in a good position. Basically, the coaches want me to know what I am doing and not be lost. I go into the coach's office, sit down, and go through plays like that. The competition is fun because we feed off each other. We know that everybody wants to start, but we help each other and let the coaches pick the best man. Right now, I want to start, but if I don't know my stuff, I can't. I got to learn my stuff first before I say I want to start. I feel if I can just sit down and learn one position and go full speed that really helps. I love being a running back and I learn something new every day."

The Obvious – In attendance on Sunday was Redland's East Valley verbal Chris Polk, a talented wide receiver who should be gathering plenty of headlines this coming prep season.

The Not So Obvious – If you didn't know it, you'd think that Chris was already in the Trojan program as he ran with the receivers from drill to drill. Is that called assimilation?

The Obvious – One of the more intriguing stories on Sunday was the debut of early freshman entry Martin Coleman, an offensive tackle, who would normally be in his final semester at Huntington Beach Edison High.

The Not So Obvious – So, Martin, what did you think of your first 11-on-11 drill? Martin's wide grin said it all to the O/NSO by commenting, "Oh, was it intense! That's the first thing came across my mind. You can't practice without intensity; it can only make you better. There were different guys I was lined up against like L.J. (DE Lawrence Jackson), and it was hard going up against these guys and I am still considered a senior in high school. I gave it all I had and did all my plays and the coaches said I did good today. One area I think I need to improve on is my burst, my initial first step and lose some weight. Right now I am 6-6 and weight about 327. I would like to be at 310 or 305, so I am going to work on losing weight."

The Obvious – For a young player like Martin Coleman, this is his first counter against players he was watching last season on television.

The Not So Obvious – So, Martin, were these TV "stars" the real deal? Of Sunday's scrimmaging, Martin said, "I went up against L.J. and like I saw him on TV. Oh, man, I wondered what it was like to go up against him. He's the best of the best. It was hard playing against him, but it was fun. Having the best players in the nation helping you out just makes you better."

The Obvious – Martin Coleman is a growing number of players in college football that have departed from high school early, so they can attend spring practice and get ahead of the normal incoming freshmen class in August.

The Not So Obvious – Coleman's Huntington Beach Edison High is a living Beach Boys record, located just a mile down Magnolia Blvd. from the waves of Huntington Beach. Any second thoughts and are you still sure, Martin, about coming to Troy so early while your friends might be riding the surf next to Pacific Coast Highway? Martin laughed and said, "I am 100% sure and there is no doubt in my mind being here."

The Obvious – They say in life, there is somebody out there that looks just like you.

The Not So Obvious – This theory holds true when the O/NSO saw impressive offensive line recruit Tyron Smith (6-5, 261) of Moreno Valley Rancho Verde, who struck us as a look-a-like of Trojan sophomore offensive tackle Charles Brown (6-6, 285).

The Obvious – All eyes have been on the progress of current starting sophomore center Nick Howell, who has made his presence felt in early one-on-one drills, and has the challenge of replacing All-Pac-10 Ryan Kalil.

The Not So Obvious – One of those impressed spectators of Howell's progress is former Trojan offensive lineman Spencer Torgan, who was stunned on Sunday by Howell's physical progress. Spencer said, "Wow, I can't believe how Nick has filled out. He is so technically sound. It's really amazing."

The Obvious – The competition at tailback is certainly living up to all the expectations.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO reiterates an earlier WeAreSC audio interview that in our opinion, certainly one of the early surprises of camp has been the continued leg recovery of tailback Desmond Reed, who looks much quicker with glimpses of that old acceleration that Trojan fans long remember. There were a couple of runs on Sunday and Friday that had observers smiling and nodding in encouragement over the latest Reed evaluation.

The Obvious – Mater Dei quarterback Matt Barkley was in attendance on Sunday.

The Not So Obvious – Ya know, some players just have that "SC" look, and this handsome blonde out of Orange County surprised some observers just how tall and physically built he is for a quarterback heading into his junior year in high school. The kid looked to be enjoying himself and the Trojan coaching staff certainly enjoyed seeing his presence on Sunday.

The Obvious – There is no more vocal coach on the Trojans' staff than ever-animated linebacker coach Ken Norton.

The Not So Obvious – Norton had the large gathering of fans and players in those proverbial "stitches" when he challenged one of the officials over a pass interference call against Rey Maualuga. Norton told a laughing official that he better not be walking home alone tonight. It was all in good nature and no laugh track needed to heighten the moment.

The Obvious – Walk-on senior receiver Brad Walker may always be known as the intended recipient of Reggie Bush's ill-fated Rose Bowl lateral against Texas.

The Not So Obvious – But don't tell that to sophomore corner Vincent Joseph, who appeared to be leveled by Walker during a scrimmage play. Hey, those walk-ons aren't supposed to do that, are they? Walker, who was performing on Sunday with a high fever and a knee issue, is hoping to secure one of those treasured scholarships by next fall if one comes available. One thing the O/NSO knows, if any walk-on should be considered, Walker has more than earned his stripes.

The Obvious – And finally, as it is with every spring, there is always a feeling that something or somebody is missing.

The Not So Obvious – This spring it's the likes of All-America receiver Dwayne Jarrett. Well, Dwayne make not have been on the field wearing that familiar No. 8, but leave it to the youth on Sunday to recognize Dwayne, who was standing on the Brian Kennedy field sideline next to former Trojan DL star Willie McGinest Dwayne was dressed in all black and looked more like a rap star than a future NFL millionaire. Give Dwayne plenty of credit; he had no problem signing spring press guides and jerseys of the kids that came up to him with a look of awe in their eyes. And isn't that the way a college All-American is supposed to react to adoring young fans?

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