O/NSO: Winners edition

When the dust had settled from last weekend's NFL draft and Scout.com combine, there were winners, big winners, and surprise winners, but in terms of the Trojan family, no family was a bigger winner than the Frank Kalil family that saw their oldest son, Ryan, become the first center taken in the NFL draft and their second son, Trojan verbal Matt, virtually dominate the Scout.com combine

The Obvious – When the dust had settled from last weekend's NFL draft and Scout.com combine, there were winners, big winners, and surprise winners, but in terms of the Trojan family, no family was a bigger winner than the Frank Kalil family that saw their oldest son, Ryan, become the first center taken in the NFL draft by the Carolina Panthers and their second son, Trojan verbal Matt, virtually dominate the Scout.com combine and establish himself as perhaps the premier prep football talent regardless of position in the mother lode of talent in Southern California.

The Not So Obvious – While Ryan Kalil was frustrating himself to the limits on Sunday trying to find Carolina Panther apparel, his younger brother, Matt had some of Scout.com's national evaluators reevaluating their thoughts on the top offensive tackle in the country. Matt's chief competitor had been Ohio State verbal Mike Adams from Dublin Coffman High in Ohio. While we won't directly quote some of the Scout national recruiting hierarchy, let's just say that the street-talk adjectives were all highly complimentary of Monster Matt and the debate had ceased.

The Obvious - The best and most consistent defensive linemen in our opinion at the Scout combine was UCLA verbal Damien Holmes of Colton, who plays with a big-time motor, and Washington-bound Craig Noble of Woodland Hills Taft, who plays with a big-time muscle.

The Not So Obvious – Despite Holmes swift, relentless attacks on Matt Kalil, Matty basically walled him off, while Noble provided brute force and, again, for much of the competition, Kalil kept Noble at bay. Although Holmes and Noble attacked with a great deal of intensity and high motivation of purpose, Kalil didn't duck any of these repeat challengers as the combine coaches "matched up" the high-rent talent and allowed kids to "request" match-ups One of the highlights of Sunday's camp certainly was when standout Crenshaw High defensive lineman Carlton Hudson literally "called out" Matt Kalil and challenged the Servite star. Matt turned to his Servite coaches, gave an incredulous smirk, rolled his eyes, and then promptly connected on a straight arm shot to Hudson's throat and took the Crenshaw star to the pancake factory. Did the Kalil pitch a no-hitter on Sunday? No, but a two-hitter ain't bad for a player whose upside is off the charts and a face that looks like it's still waiting for a first shave. It's easy to visualize what Kalil will look like after a couple of years in Chris Carlisle's Mansion of Muscle.

The Obvious – On Saturday, the Kalil family waited at home for Ryan's expected phone call for induction into the NFL.

The Not So Obvious – Frank Kalil laughed about the Saturday that he saw his son Ryan enter the National Football League. Frank said that Ryan didn't want to have a big draft party and just wanted to be with his close friends and family, but that manifested itself to over a hundred folks. Brother Matt admitted he learned a lot from watching his big brother Ryan during those nerve-racking hours waiting for the fateful Carolina phone call. Matt said, "I kind of related the draft to the recruiting process. During the wait, Ryan was getting stressed. I was upstairs with him when he got the call."

The Obvious – One thing the O/NSO will say on record is Matt Kalil is the best Trojan-bound prep offensive lineman we have seen since Brad Budde, the former Trojan All-America and Lombardi Award winner, made his way to the University from Kansas City Rockhurst High back in 1976.

The Not So Obvious – The things you notice in watching Matt Kalil (6-7, 285) are the gifted long arms for an offensive lineman, technique that could be a training video, and an attitude that separates the very good ones from the gifted great ones. We saw these same traits in Brad Budde (6-5, 253, photo). Ironically, they both have a number of similarities coming out of high school. Both attended parochial schools, both their fathers played professional football, both have a quiet demeanor before the "hitting" starts, both were near the same size with Kalil a couple inches taller and about thirty pounds heavier, and extremely coachable.

The Obvious – The next time Trojan fans will get an opportunity to see Matt Kalil in action will be at the Trojans' Sunday linemen camp on June 10 and the Rising senior two-day camp on June 21&22.

The Not So Obvious – So with his Trojan scholarship in hand, what is the point of continuing the camp competition? Well, it's because that is exactly the point – competition. Matt told the O/NSO, "It's a chance to get in there and see what I am made of. I think my technique is good, but I can get bigger and continue to work on my technique and flexibility." Yes, the kid realizes it's all about getting better and testing yourself against the best to be the best. So what will he do during his "off season"? Matt said, "I'll be in the weight room and prepare to compete in the combines and camps" That, my friends, is why the O/NSO believes this is a very special player.

The Obvious – One of the negatives with recruiting, both in football and basketball, is the over-the-edge hyperbole of adjectives comparing present day blue chip prep stars to already proven college all-stars.

The Not So Obvious – Believe the old O/NSO when we say, good readers, that we are one of the last old sages to join in on the hyperbole bandwagon. We pulled a real rarity in this space some years ago when we felt that, based on our years of experience on the Trojan football and recruiting scene, some kid named Reggie Bush would be the most explosive back since O.J. Simpson. Even then it was tough to stick out our neck out and put it in print, but things didn't turn out too badly with that prediction.

As for Matt Kalil, who really knows what the college future will bring in terms of injury or unforeseen circumstances? Budde's pro career never matched his prolific college career like Anthony Munoz's Trojan career never matched his professional career. However, based on everything we have seen and know, we'll stick with our Brad Budde incoming comparison, despite the fact that Budde was a guard at Troy and Kalil will be a tackle. And let's not forget that Frank Kalil's kid has over a year to go before he enters Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field, but the foundation is certainly there.

The Obvious – Trojan wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett is drafted in the second round and No. 45 overall by the Carolina Panthers.

The Not So Obvious – Charlotte Observer Stan Olson wrote, "WHY THEY PICKED HIM: With WR Keyshawn Johnson aging, Carolina is looking for the big, physical receiver to eventually replace him. Jarrett has the required size, and has shown a knack for finding the end zone." Boy, Key must have aged quite a bit after the draft as he was cut almost before the name "Jarrett" could be stitched into the back of a Carolina jersey.

The Obvious – After releasing former Trojan Keyshawn Johnson abruptly on Tuesday, so much for the rumor that the Carolina Panthers had petitioned NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to change their nickname to the Trojans, especially after the Charlotte-based franchise had drafted Trojan wide receiver Dwayne Jarrett and center Ryan Kalil, thus joining former Cardinal and Gold receivers Keary Colbert and the suddenly gone Mr. Johnson.

The Not So Obvious – You could still hear Keyshawn telling ESPN viewers how he was going to take Dwayne Jarrett under his wing after he had commented about Dwayne not being ready for the NFL. No, Key won't be around to teach the rookie the tricks of the trade as promised, but he did teach him a tried and tested acronym for job security. The NFL = Not For Long.

The Obvious – Sometimes Pete Carroll is accused of trying to keep his players in school rather than give them the green light to the NFL.

The Not So Obvious - Well, Dwayne Jarrett said he would do what is best for his family and we respect him in that regard. However, in this draft, all the brutally honest concerns regarding his level of play seems to have clearly been played out in the draft. My goodness, over seven receivers taken before No. 8? Dwayne was outstanding for the Trojan but so was Mike Williams, who admits he should have stayed in school. Many times Pete Carroll is accused of just trying to shelve his players at Troy, but it's sure hard to argue with Carroll's track record on this one. The only player that Carroll clearly slipped on was linebacker Lofa Tatupu. Future Trojans will have to pay more attention to Carroll's knowledge of the professional football because whether you like hearing what the coach says or not, just look at the evidence. As Carroll told the Times this week, "I think this is an extraordinary statement about how things work. It's so clear about what we've been talking about the last few years. It couldn't be more obvious."

The Obvious – Trojan center Ryan Kalil is drafted in the second round and No. 59 overall by the Carolina Panthers.

The Not So Obvious – Charlotte Observer staff writer Charles Chandler wrote, "Center wasn't a "need" position for the Carolina Panthers heading into Saturday's NFL draft, but team officials decided the chance to take the best center available late in the second round was too good to pass up. The Panthers chose Southern Cal All-American Ryan Kalil with the 59th pick, which was obtained in a trade earlier in the day from the New York Jets."Carolina might have opted to take a defensive end -- a clear need -- at that spot, but a run on the position thinned out the available candidates. Other teams chose defensive ends with four of the five picks preceding Carolina's selection. Kalil was clearly the best player at any position available, so the Panthers chose him and thus strengthened their offensive line. The move could mean center Justin Hartwig, signed to a lucrative free agent contract last year, could be moved to guard. Kalil also showed at the Senior Bowl he's capable of playing guard.ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. lauded Carolina's selection and predicted Kalil would become an elite center." Don't worry about the money, Ryan, your agent Tom Condon is one of the best and knows the money drill.

The Obvious – If Matt Kalil isn't the best player in SoCal, most would agree it's probably St. Bonaventure tailback Darrell Scott, who set the Scout combine on its ear with a blistering best in the 40 of 4.32.

The Not So Obvious – Okay, that was the good news for Scott, who was attending his first-ever combine. Unfortunately, like Elvis leaving the building, the player that most believe is the best tailback in the nation, left immediately after awing the coaches, spectators, and media. After watching him last year, seeing his physical growth, and the power he ran with on Sunday, there is no question he is something else. However, for top end speed, you had to be impressed with Arizona tailback Covaughn Deboskie, who wowed us with his finishing kick, a kick that reminded some of Reggie Bush. His 40-time was 4.38 and he was getting faster as he crossed the finish line. Keep a recruiting eye on this desert dynamo.

The Obvious – Trojan wide receiver Steve Smith is drafted in the second round and No. 51 overall by the New York Giants.

The Not So Obvious – Headline in the New York Post: "Smith Fills Passing Fancy." Post writer Paul Schwartz wrote, "At USC, Smith was overshadowed by the more-heralded Dwayne Jarrett, but he put together some huge efforts for the Trojans, including a three-touchdown performance in the 2004 Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma. The one blemish on Smith's resume is a 2005 fight with teammate Dominique Byrd over money owed to Smith, who broke Byrd's jaw." That last sentence was pure New York media cranking up. However, if ever a player was prepared to play in the sometimes merciless media of the Big Apple, it is this kid. In New Yawk, if you play hard and keep your nose clean, the fans and media will love you. If you don't, you're part of the Russian Teahouse menu.

The Obvious – Former Trojan All-America receiver Mike Williams is traded from Detroit to Oakland.

The Not So Obvious – This is it, Michael. If you can't take advantage of this situation with Lane Kiffin, better check your degree or at the very least, NFL Europe. You know "Kiff" will give you that one shot since he was willing to trade for you, and he was your former receivers coach at Troy. Trojan fans are pulling for you, buddy, but this is it.

The Obvious – Former Trojan corner Eric Wright is drafted in the second round by Cleveland and No. 53 overall.

The Not So Obvious – Well, for all that went down for this kid, being the No. 53 selection ain't bad at all. The real question will be which Eric Wright will we see when his pockets are full of Ben Franklins. That is going to be his true test of character.

The Obvious – There is little question that many of the prepsters at the Scout.com combine have long-range plans of earning a salary in the NFL.

The Not So Obvious – Mammoth St. Bonaventure tackle Vaughn Dotsy was certainly among the masses that had one eye on his 40 time and the other on his NFL dream. After running a 5.34, Dotsy turned to some other participants and said, "If I would have been at the NFL combine, that would have been one of the better times." This was an obvious reference to the times of NFL offensive linemen.

The Obvious – A surprise draft winner was linebacker Dallas Sartz, who was drafted in the fifth round, two rounds earlier than expected, by the Washington Redskins.

The Not So Obvious –Washington Post staff writer Jason La Cantora wrote, "Sartz was part of a USC program that has cultivated some of the top talent in the country and won back-to-back national titles. He has good size (6 feet 5, 235 pounds) but must add weight. He displayed good power as an outside linebacker and was a prospect for the 2006 draft, but missed much of that season with an injury and was granted another year of eligibility. The professional environment at USC will prepare Sartz well for the NFL, he believes. ‘We've been to five BCS [bowl] games the last five years,' Sartz said on a conference call. ‘We won two national championships and had three Heisman Trophy winners and had all the publicity around us and the media and everything. I think that everything at USC prepares you for the next level.'"

Hey, Dallas, you know the area and FedEx Stadium from the Trojans visit against Virginia Tech in 2004. It's not like you're alone, Carson Palmer's brother, Jordan, was a draft round behind you. The Washington Post also wrote, "Will have to prepare for the unending grief he'll get as a guy named Dallas playing for the Redskins."

The Obvious – Another surprise draft winner was linebacker Oscar Lua, who was drafted in the seventh round by New England.

The Not So Obvious – Of Oscar, Patriot coach Bill Belichick said, "Oscar Lua is an inside linebacker from USC. He actually ended up playing behind a couple of very good players, guys that I am sure will go very high in the draft next year out of USC, but he is a pretty good player in his own right." You don't think that quiet Bill was thinking of his success with Matt Cassel, do you?

The Obvious – Kickoff times and television plans for all six of the Trojans' 2007 football away games have been announced, which means romantic weekends may have to give way to ABC prime time kickoffs.

The Not So Obvious – In it's first year, ABC's prime time ratings increased 24% over the previous year's time slot and it's no wonder the anticipated No. 1 Trojans are "primed" for appearances on ABC, ESPN, and ESPN2. The Sept. 15 tussle at Nebraska (ABC national) begins at 7 p.m. CDT Husker time, and we hear there's nothing like a candlelight dinner at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. That 5 p.m. start at Washington (ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2 national/split national) on Sept. 29 might crimp the exquisite Salmon dinner overlooking the Puget Sound, not to mention that 5 p.m. start at Cal (ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2 national/split national) on Nov. 10, which just about cancels a Saturday evening Wharf moment. Hey, we're on a national championship football mission, not a second honeymoon.

We can already hear some of the traveling Trojan faithful thanking their stars and stripes for that 2:30 p.m. South Bend start (NBC national) on Oct. 20 at Domerland, but we already hear the complaints about the trip back to Chicago on that beltway parking lot known as the Indiana Toll Road. Cancel dinner plans at Harry Carry's. Take a tip from the old O/NSO and have dinner at Tippicanoe Place in South Bend; you'll be glad you did. WeAreSC's unrivaled photographer Joe Andras and chum Burke Mucho will vouch for our recommendation, and it sure beats fighting the traffic. The prime time road finale concludes with a 6 p.m. Tempe time on Thanksgiving evening at Arizona State (ESPN national), so an early turkey gobble shouldn't put too much of a knot in your digestive system.

The Obvious – The kickoff times and television plans for three of the six Trojans 2007 football home games have been announced.

The Not So Obvious – Although yet to be announced, it figures the Sept. 1 Idaho opener will be under the Coliseum lights and the early October games with Stanford/Arizona will probably be late afternoon or the dreaded 7 p.m. kickoff. Washington State (ABC split regional) on Sept. 22 and that Nov. 1 Homecoming Game with Oregon State (ABC, ESPN, or ESPN2 national/split national) are 5 p.m. starts, so you'll have plenty of time to hit Cantors or the Katella Deli. As for hosting the Westwooders (ABC national) on Dec. 1, that 1:30 p.m. commencement looks like pure nirvana.

The Obvious – And finally, after doing the Scout camp's course of cones, Matt Kalil looked a little down and despondent when he told his father Frank his shuttle time, comparing it to his brother, Carolina-bound brother Ryan.

The Not So Obvious – Dad put things in proper prospective to his celebrated Servite senior-to-be son and future Trojan by saying, "Hey, dude, he's in the NFL." Amen.


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