The Recruiting Files: Best Staff in the Game?

To borrow from an old football phrase, "behind every great head coach, there is great staff." And that phrase certainly applies to USC football when it comes to recruiting. Coach Pete Carroll gets much of the credit for USC's recruiting success and when you finish with either the #1 or #2 class for five of the past six years (according to Scout, Inc.), then you are indeed king of the mountain.

But behind Carroll are several assistant coaches who lay the ground work for recruiting success by fanning out across the country to build relationships with many of the nation's best high school football players. These guys spend countless hours in planes, trains and rent-a-cars to build relationships with the athlete, their families and high school coaches.Many football staffs have at least one assistant who is a top recruiter. But how many football programs can boast of having multiple top notch recruiters on staff? The Trojans have that luxury.

Like every other facet of the program, Carroll creates a competitive atmosphere among the assistants to land the best recruits in the country. He's even awarded an assistant coach with the title, "Recruiter of the Year", on the night high school players can sign their Letters of Intent. And despite the inevitable turnover of assistants for great opportunities elsewhere, the core of USC's coaching staff continues to excel out on the recruiting trail. Here's a look at the staff that makes it all happen on Signing Day:

Running back coach Todd McNair

- Serving in his fifth year as an assistant, coach McNair has been recognized as one of the best college football recruiters in the nation by several recruiting publications. Mainly responsible for the recruiting East Coast states - including the fertile recruiting grounds of Florida, New Jersey and Virginia - the New Jersey native and former high school football coach's familiarity with the region has paid serious dividends. Known as "Coach T-Mac" to players and friends, the McNair has secured the signatures of some of the best from the east coast, including Brian Cushing and Vidal Hazleton.

Something you may not know: Coach McNair and ex-Trojan great Marcus Allen shared the same backfield for the Kansas City Chiefs during McNair's eight year NFL career.

Secondary Coach Rocky Seto

- A low profile, but high impact recruiter, Coach Seto is mainly responsible for recruiting the Northern California and Northwestern states for the Trojans. His recruiting coups include future Trojan stars Taylor Mays, David Ausberry and Anthony McCoy. A former Trojan linebacker and Scout Team Player of the Year in 1998, Seto joined the staff as a voluntary graduate assistant in 1999.

Something you may not know: Coach Seto turned down an opportunity to coach linebackers with the Buffalo Bills in 2006 to stay with the Trojans.

Linebacker Coach Ken Norton

- When former NFL pro bowler Ken Norton knocks on a recruit's door, they always answer. Maybe its Coach Norton's Super Bowl rings or his intense style that gets a recruits' attention - but whatever it is - his impact as a recruiter mainly responsible for mining the Texas and the southern states has been noticeable. Norton has reeled in running backs Emmanuel Moody and Joe McKnight over the past two years.

Something you may not know: Coach Norton is the only player in NFL history to play for three consecutive Super Bowl champions.

OLine Coach Pat Ruel

- An FOP, "Friend of Pete" from the early days, Coach Ruel served on the Arkansas Razorback staff in the late 70's with head coach Pete Carroll. A terrific teacher with several years as an OLine coach in the NFL, Coach Ruel is mainly responsible for recruiting Southern California and Southwestern states.

Something you may not know: Coach Ruel's real first name is . . . Golden.

Tight Ends Coach Brennan Carroll

- The apple never falls too far from the tree, and Coach Brennan Carroll - Pete's oldest kid - has proven to be an adept recruiter in his own right. The younger Coach Carroll was instrumental in recruiting Ronald Johnson and Broderick Green to USC. Named recruiting coordinator earlier this year, Carroll will now direct USC's recruiting effort nationwide.

Something you may not know: Coach Carroll played his college football with the Pittsburgh Panthers where he was a reserve tight end and special teams player.

Offensive Coordinator Steve Sarkisian

- Coach Sarkisian's easy going nature belies his fire and intensity on the field. And its his competitive nature that comes through on the recruiting trail. Coach Sark recruits the Western states including Utah and California, and has helped secure the signatures of Stanley Havili and Aaron Corp.

Something you may not know: Coach Sark first came to USC as a baseball player in 1992.

Defensive Coordinator Nick Holt

- When you see Coach Holt stalking the sidelines in a game or on the practice field, you think . . . DEFENSE. Apparently, that's what recruits think too as the former Idaho head coach has jumped right back into the saddle as an SC recruiter by helping to get a commitment from super recruit, Everson Griffen.

Something you may not know: Coach Holt's maternal grandfather was SC All American swimmer and Hollywood legend, Buster Crabbe.

Assistant DLine Coach David Watson

- Coach Watson is mainly responsible for recruiting the Southern California region. One of a cadre of young, aggressive coaches at SC, Watson helped the Trojans gain the commitments of Jordan Campbell and new '08 commit Chris Polk.

Something you may not know: Coach Watson was the Gatorade Minnesota High School Football Player of the Year as a defensive lineman in 1993.


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