Catching Up With D.J.

In past years, USC's Junior-Day drew hundreds of kids, but this year was much different. We were told there were about 100 juniors, but the actual number appeared to be much less. Most of the top local prospects the Trojans are eyeing, visited Feb. 24 for what was billed as a "Meet and Greet."

So, the annual Junior Day, which was held on April 1, was simply another opportunity to showcase USC to some of the local prospects who couldn't make the "Meet and Greet."

Although he's spent more time at USC than all of the Junior Day attendees combined, DJ Shoemate attended the Junior Day with teammate Matt Kalil.

WeAreSC met briefly with Shoemate outside Heritage Hall at the conclusion of the day's events, and asked him how everything went.

"It went perfect," Shoemate said. "Everything went as planned. There was a lot of talent out there and you want to talk to everyone. So, as far as the talent is concerned, it went perfect.

"I've been subjected to the system quite a bit, so there wasn't much I'm not familiar with," Shoemate said. "But I got to meet with Coach (John) Morton, who's the passing game coordinator. He's a great guy. I had an opportunity to hear his philosophy, what he expects from the wide receivers and that was great."

With the Trojans scrimmaging on Howard Jones Field at noon, Shoemate had an opportunity to chat with a few of the players.

"I got to talk to Emmanuel Moody and got to know him a lot better," Shoemate said. "I talked to Allen Bradford and I got to know Patrick Turner. Those guys just stepped aside and answered any questions I had."

USC's 2007 recruiting class formed a strong bond early in the recruiting process. Shoemate spent so much time with that group, at times we had to remind ourselves he was a 2008 prospect. Shoemate touched on what it was like spending time during the 2007 recruiting process with his close friend and teammate, Chris Galippo.

"Man, it was great," Shoemate said. "Chris and I have been friends since the fourth grade. Growing up with him and being around the 2007 guys, I was able to build relationships with guys like Everson (Griffen) and some of the other guys."

Galippo led the recruiting effort for USC last year and Shoemate was asked if he planned on taking on the same role for the 2008 class.

"Most definitely," Shoemate said. "I feel being a part of the Trojan tradition, I would want to reach out to the people we're recruiting. I don't want to tell anybody anything incorrect; I just want to lead people to an elite football program. And that's what I feel SC is bringing to the table. I want to help bring in elite athletes."

Shoemate missed most of the 2006 season because of a cracked bone in his foot, but he's healthy now and ready to help lead Friars to a league championship.

"I'm doing pretty good," Shoemate said. "Everything is coming along real well. I'm just trying to jog around and get my stamina and endurance up, so I can perform in the fall. Right now, I'm trying to make sure I'm 100 percent before I go all out because I don't want to risk anything. Come fall, league is the most important thing and I don't want to risk anything before that."

There's been a little debate on the WeAreSC message boards over which position Shoemate will play at USC, but there is no debate about where he'll play this season—at least on offense.

"I'll be playing receiver and a little running back," Shoemate said. "I also play a little defense. I've been hearing things that my coach (Troy Thomas) wants to put me at safety, but I'll play wherever my team needs me."


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