O/NSO: Ella Tribute edition

Is it conceivable that Pete Carroll is the special Galen Center mystery guest that will join a superstar evening of musical performers for the April 29th "We Love Ella! A Tribute To The First Lady of Song," celebrating the 90th birthday of the late Ella Fitzgerald?

The Obvious – Having apparently secured the services of Arkansas quarterback transfer Mitch Mustain and conquered the world of swimming with his impressive fundraising victory over Trojan celebrity icon Will Ferrell, is it conceivable that Pete Carroll is the special Galen Center mystery guest that will join a superstar evening of musical performers for the April 29th "We Love Ella! A Tribute To The First Lady of Song," celebrating the 90th birthday of the late Ella Fitzgerald?

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO has no advance information on Carroll's musical status as the "We Love Ella" mystery performer, but you know the coach's love of competition and might he musically challenge the all-star lineup of Natalie Cole, K.D. Lang, Quincy Jones, Nancy Wilson, Cyndi Lauper, Take 6, Wynonna Judd, Ruben Studdard, Patti Austin, Lizz Wright, Monica Mancini, Dave Koz, George Duke, James Moody and the USC Thornton Symphony and Jazz Orchestra?

The Obvious – There is as much growing intrigue with the "We Love Ella" mystery concert guest as there was awaiting the final decisions of Mitch Mustain and Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High's Dayne Crist.

The Not So Obvious – How ironic that in the end, Southern Mustain is heading west and Western Crist is heading east. As Trojan fans celebrate the impending arrival of Mustain, there is also no confirmation that Notre Dame's Charlie Weis will celebrate Dayne Crist's Notre Dame verbal with a mystery guest appearance at the Galen Center to sing such Fitzgerald hits as "Love and Kisses," "(If You Can't Sing It) You'll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini)," and "A-Tisket, A-Tasket." So, for those that love a good celebrity mystery and a great time, the Ella concert starts at 7:00 p.m. and tickets can be purchased online at Ticketmaster.com, at all Ticketmaster outlets (including Ritmo Latino and select Macy's and Wherehouse Music locations) or by phone at (213) 480-3232, (714) 740-2000, (805) 583-8700 or (661) 322-2525. Tickets are also available at the Galen Center box office or by calling the box office at (213) 821-GALEN (4253).

The Obvious – The Oklahoma spring football game was televised on ESPN.

The Not So Obvious – Reiterating his opinion during the OU spring game, ESPN analyst and former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie says the Trojans are the No. 1 truth. One criterion that seems to be ignored, however, is the degree of difficulty of the Trojans' road schedule. We're on record as saying that a national championship is not a "slam dunk." Road trips to Nebraska, Oregon, Notre Dame, Cal, Arizona State, and Washington can be hazardous to one's national championship health. Not saying the Trojans won't do it or can't do, just commenting that it will be a legitimate challenge, although the Trojans will be favored in each game.

The Obvious – Both the Los Angeles Times and ESPN reported Thursday that former Arkansas quarterback Mitch Mustain will transfer to USC; the same day the Times reported that Sherman Oaks Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist made a verbal to the South Benders, confirmed Thursday night with Dayne's announcement on Fox Prime Ticket.

The Not So Obvious – There is far reaching implications for this quarterback domino effect. The apparent arrival of Mustain is no shock; you could see this one coming a mile away and it means that Mitch is a Trojan for the long haul. As for Crist, who actually committed to Notre Dame on Monday, once backed up current Trojan quarterback Garrett Green at Notre Dame, and was considered at one time to be a heavy Trojan lean, don't tell the O/NSO it wasn't about comparing talent and opportunity. The message here, besides the ND "right fit" level, is that competing against fellow Angelino and former middle school classmate Jimmy Clausen is far more appealing than against Mark Sanchez, Mustain, and Aaron Corp. We wish Dayne the best of luck in South Bend. The big winner, however, is Mater Dei junior Matt Barkley (photo), who loves the Trojans and is considered by "experts" in Orange County to be a better prospect at the same stage than Matt Leinart. The reality is the move by Crist to ND opens up the Heritage Hall door wide open for Barkley and trust the old O/NSO, the Trojan staff is more than happy who this way cometh.

The Obvious – The Trojans have scheduled the Oregon State Beavers for the annual Homecoming Game on Nov. 3.

The Not So Obvious – For many Trojan fans, a Homecoming switch to Stanford, thanks to comments made by new "Farm" director Jim Harbaugh, would have been appropriate. Don't think the Trojans will need any added incentive for the Cardinal, but there is a lot of revenge in the making for the Beavers, who upset the Trojans last season in Corvallis. Hmmm, the game is schedule for early November and what's Pete's record for that month? Yeah, kind of knew you had that the answer for that one.

The Obvious – The NCAA Division I management council this week has recommended a ban on all electronically transmitted correspondence, including text messages, between coaches and recruits.

The Not So Obvious – The Board of Directors must still pass the legislation, which figures to be approved at its April 26 meeting, and the ban would take effect in August. E-mails and faxes would be exempt from the new rule but would be limited by current NCAA guidelines. The O/NSO thinks this is a good rule for all concerned. However, the elite powerhouse programs like the Trojans will suffer little, but the Trojans of the pre-Carroll era certainly would have been at a disadvantage. With prep players seemingly measuring each school's "love" transmissions like election night Cupid voting, the new rule will be a blessing for coaches who spent so much time and energy they were part of a computer dating service.

The Obvious – The NCAA was concerned that unlimited text messages created a loophole that permitted coaches to send a message asking recruits to call them -- calls that would violate NCAA rules if the coach made the call.

The Not So Obvious – Now really, do you think that students will not be informed that coaches want them to call? For one, all a college coach needs to do is call the high school coach or player "rep" and ask them to pass the message. College coaches will just revert to some of the tried and true old methods and it will be near business as usual. If you can't go through the front door, there is always the backdoor or the window, but we like the intent of the rule.

The Obvious – The Trojans are actively engaged in recruiting Long Beach Poly defensive lineman Jurrell Casey (6-2, 282).

The Not So Obvious - As part of the third annual Ohio vs USA Challenge, Casey and his Jackrabbit teammates will be on display Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 1) when they travel to Fawcett Stadium in Canton to play the highly touted Glenville (Cleveland) Tarblooders, former home of once Trojan recruit Ted Ginn. FYI, SoCal powerhouse Mission Viejo is also part of the extravaganza and will play fabled Cincinnati Moeller on Sept 2 at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium.

The Obvious – Assistant defensive line coach David Watson calls Trojan senior nose tackle Sedrick Ellis a "one of a kind" performer.

The Not So Obvious – The O/NSO asked Watson who was the most improved player along the Trojans' defensive line and he quickly replied, "Alex Parsons." Watson said, " Alex is so determined and he gives such an effort. He is also intelligent and has a motor for every down."

The Obvious – It was expected during spring ball that junior defensive end Kyle Moore would be under the microscope, especially with the former Georgia prep star in a major battle for playing time with senior Alex Morrow.

The Not So Obvious – Coach Watson had some positive words about Moore's performance this spring. The third-year coach said, "Moore really stepped up and remember he didn't get to redshirt, so he is maturing." Watson said that the Trojan coaching staff uses different methods to motivate. As for defensive ends, for example, players are shown film of former Trojan All-American Kenechi Udeze and NFL performers like the Colt's Dwight Freeney. Watson said that certain things catch a player's attention, especially at a school like USC, which many players use to springboard to the NFL. Watson said you can get a Trojan's attention by saying, "You played today like a 4th round draft pick." Ouch.

The Obvious - The NCAA has approved the same 32 bowl games for the 2007 football season as last year.

The Not So Obvious – Whew! The O/NSO was a little concerned about that fledgling Rose Bowl game on New Year's Day.

The Obvious – The NFL draft arrives on Saturday morning, April 28, and a number of Trojan hopefuls will finally find out if the all the current rumors have legs.

The Not So Obvious – According to this week's Sporting News War Room scouts, which compared the true value of a player compared to where they think that player will be actually drafted, two-time Trojan All-America wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett (#71) is a third-round talent who will be taken in the second round. Of Jarrett, the TSN War Room says, " A tall possession receiver who can make big plays in the red zone. Uses his hands, long arms and big body to create space and shield defenders from the ball. Doesn't get consistent separation. Lacks the explosiveness and speed to hit holes and turn short passes into long touchdowns. Won't be the focus of an NFL offense, which could lead to locker room problems because he's a me-first type of player." Of course, Michigan corner Leon Hall (#8) is listed as a first-round talent and selection and the top corner, and we all know how Mr. Jarrett schooled Mr. Hall in the Rose Bowl.

The Obvious –Steve Smith has been very impressive in both the NFL combine and individual workouts.

The Not So Obvious – TSN ranks Steve (#51) 20 players higher than Jarrett, and TSN predicts that Smith will be drafted ahead "of his overrated teammate, Dwayne Jarrett." Of Smith, the War Room says, "Smooth, precise route runner with the quickness to change directions in a blink. Tough enough to make catches in traffic and smart enough to find openings in zones. Not a big-play threat or strong enough to gain yards consistently after contact. Ideally suited for a No. 3 role in the slot."

The Obvious –Center Ryan Kalil has rapidly become a favorite of both the scouting experts and a number of NFL clubs.

The Not So Obvious – In TSN's draft preview, Ryan (#58) is being touted as a third-round talent that will be chosen in the third round. TSN's War Room says, " One of the most technically sound line prospects in recent years. Shows nice instincts and footwork and blocks with leverage. Lacks the strength to move the pile in the running game and gets driven backward by big nose tackles. Will be a good starter for a team that values athleticism and smarts."

The Obvious – One of the Trojan wild card selections in the draft could be linebacker Dallas Sartz.

The Not So Obvious – According to TSN, Dallas (#236) is a seventh round talent who could be a Day 2 selection. The TSN War Room says, "Fluid in coverage. Needs to be more aggressive but could be a Day 2 steal if the light finally goes on."

The Obvious – There are great expectations for incoming offensive lineman Kris O'Dowd, the Parade All-American from Tucson.

The Not So Obvious – Kris, who will arrive the first week of June, spent some time with the O/NSO after viewing last Saturday's final spring scrimmage and described the experience as "good," and "I really liked it; it gets me pumped!" Kris told us he is now 6-4 1/2 and 305 and he was very excited to meet nose tackle Sedrick Ellis for the first time and remarked, "He will make me better." No doubt the two will get to know each other quite well shortly. Asked if he feels he is ready to start barking out offensive line calls, Kris showed his maturity by grinning and saying he has a lot to learn. However, he does communicate with offensive line coach Pat Ruel and the two go over the playbook on the phone. Kris says a lot of his learning right now is the terminology.

The Obvious – There is a lot of positive vibes amongst the Trojan faithful over the recent unofficial recruiting visit of New Jersey linebacker Brendan Beal.

The Not So Obvious – There is no question that Beal was blown away by his visit to Troy. The weather, the band, the team, the coaching staff, New Jersey homeboy Brian Cushing, it was all there for Beal. However, if you go back and read Brendan's evaluations of the other schools he visited, you will find much of the same enthusiasm. The kid is certainly impressed by all the schools he has visited. We're certainly not saying he won't end up at Troy because sources say right now it's the Trojans and Florida. One thing that could be a major recruiting factor would be if junior Brian Cushing elected to return for his senior year. We wouldn't be surprised if Brian returned for a senior year like Keith Rivers, and it certainly would be another plus for Beal to come west.

The Obvious –The Trojans are heavily recruiting Moreno Valley Rancho Verde offensive lineman Tyron Smith (6-6, 265).

The Not So Obvious – We have seen Smith in person a couple of times and the one thing that sticks out in our mind is the extraordinary wingspan of this mammoth lineman, who looks very mature for his age. Those arms are long, long, long. The better to pass block, my pretty. At the Huddle, Smith was all smiles after the scrimmage and so were his parents. According to the latest Scout interview, the Trojans lead over our friends from Westwood. The Trojans are recruiting Tyron as a lineman with perhaps plans to audition him as a guard. With the commitments of two 6-8 tackles in Servite's Matt Kalil and Stockton Lincoln's Matt Myers, the potential addition of the 6-6 Smith would certainly give the Trojans an imposing height appearance in the future. FYI, Smith is a member of the Scout Top 100 and was recently named the top offensive lineman at the recent Nike Combine.

The Obvious – Scout will hold its annual combine at the Carson Home Depot Center on Sunday, April 29.

The Not So Obvious – Offensive tackle Tyron Smith says he might participate. Last year, the Scout Combine was held at Citrus College and three future Trojans worked out. Perhaps you've heard of Everson Griffen, Kris O'Dowd, and Malcolm Smith?

The Obvious – This week, Fox Prime Ticket began screening the Trojan Huddle Rewind.

The Not So Obvious – In case you missed it, better check the WeAreSC board for air times. One of the areas the O/NSO enjoyed was the interviews of the coaching staff discussing their unit position players. Yes, there are player interviews and we were struck by senior linebacker Keith Rivers' emotional admission that he has only one more year to wear No. 55. Keith, who speaks articulately and with the maturity of a senior, says he can't believe how fast his Trojan career has gone.

The Obvious – There were not a lot of surprises during the final week of spring ball and the depth chart didn't cause a lot of serious debate.

The Not So Obvious – One incoming freshman that had his position changed before he even put on his Trojan helmet is Orange Lutheran lineman Michael Reardon. Although he performed impressively on defense at last year's Trojan evaluation camps, Big Mike seemed to be headed for the offensive line, beginning with center and then being ticketed for tackle. However, in recent weeks, according to a member of the Trojan coaching staff, a decision was made to return Michael to his favorite spot, defensive end. The O/NSO was told that the coaches expect Reardon to bring intensity to the defensive line and that one area that he will need to work on is his flexibility.

The Obvious – And finally, WeAreSC's Scott Schrader did a recent video recruiting interview with visiting Georgia wide receiver Brice Butler.

The Not So Obvious – Scott, who covers a player's recruiting landscape with thoughtful and insightful questions, asked Butler what "brought you all the way out here from Georgia?" Butler gave a shocked and incredulous look into the camera and said, "It's USC; I mean it doesn't matter where I am from. Everybody knows where USC is!"


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