O/NSO: In-N-Out edition

Heritage Hall became a temporary In-N-Out drive-through this week as Matt Spanos is academically in and Chris Barrett is academically out, Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain is summer school in and running back Michael Coleman is officially out, and Compton Dominquez High junior linebacker Marquis Simmons is 2008 verbally in. All that's left is pass the ketchup, hold the onions, and share the fries.

The Obvious – Without applying for a franchise license, Heritage Hall became a temporary In-N-Out drive-through this week as center Matt Spanos is academically in and defensive tackle Chris Barrett is academically out, Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain is summer school in and running back Michael Coleman is officially out, and Compton Dominquez High junior linebacker Marquis Simmons is 2008 verbally in. All that's left is pass the ketchup, hold the onions, and share the fries.

The Not So Obvious – And if that wasn't a "double-double" and a chocolate shake came news that that Keyshawn Johnson is NFL "out" and ESPN "in." Who says nothing happens in the dog days of a Trojan May? The news of 2007 roster movement was relieving, disappointing, expected, and exciting. How else could a Trojan fan digest the gauntlet of emotions provided by Spanos, Barrett, Coleman, Mustain, and Simmons? The announcement of Barrett's academic ineligibility was particularly disappointing and perhaps even frustrating as the likeable former Tustin High star, despite a career marred with injuries, may have validated some of his early critics that football was not a consistent priority by getting himself tackled in the classroom.

The Obvious – Starting Trojan senior center Matt Spanos has been announced as eligible for the 2007 season.

The Not So Obvious – That sigh of relief can be heard inside and outside of Heritage Hall as the status of the Trojans' starting center position was starting to make coffee nervous. It all means that a potential center domino affect is now put on the back burner. Redshirt freshman Nick Howell can now continue to develop, Jeff Byers can concentrate fully on being the starting left guard, and incoming frosh Kristofer O'Dowd won't be rushed into service.

The Obvious – Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain, who began attending USC summer school classes on Monday, revealed to the Los Angeles Times, "I was kind of trying to get away from the perception of being the guy and expectations that were placed. It's a little bit different game here as far as the expectations. They come a little bit later once you've earned your spot. That's something I was looking for."

The Not So Obvious – Considering the circumstances and the publicity that surrounded him since junior high, Mustain's lack of visibility at The Trojan Huddle, actual transfer, summer school registration and reason for transferring to Troy were answered in the above Times quote. The kid needed a break, a big timeout. Considering his Springdale High and Arkansas fishbowl existence, his Trojan redshirt year gives him time to get out of the fishbowl. However, this former consensus national prep player of the year may find when his time comes in 2008 that although his Arkansas fishbowl may be cleansed, he'll be swimming in college football's biggest aquarium and it's called USC football.

The Obvious – The loss of backup defensive tackle Chris Barrett means the Trojans will be looking for help to Fili Moala, the junior from Buena Park.

The Not So Obvious - One check of the current depth chart says that everybody moves up one step and it begins with sophomore Alex Parsons, who had an impressive spring. There is no questioning of Parsons dedication to the game, as his motor is non-stop from whistle to whistle. While Barrett had the superior physical gifts, Parsons brings an attitude and there is no "off" button when the hitting starts. Alex is now up to 285 as we speak and 290 may be a realistic possibility by kick-off against Idaho. Junior Lawrence Miles is listed behind Parsons, the unknown factor will be how Pete Carroll elects to tinker with his defensive line spots.

The Obvious – Junior Compton Dominquez linebacker Marquis Simmons has made a verbal commitment to the Trojans for the class of 2009.

The Not So Obvious – Don't underestimate the long range impact that older brother Champ Simmons had during his excellent career with the Trojans after leaving Washington State. With Thursday's announcement that the Trojans have offered Mater Dei quarterback Matt Barkley, the Monarchs' junior-to-be, the Trojans' 2009 class could be as good as Pete Carroll has initiated in his tenure, which is almost mind boggling. It wouldn't be unreasonable to project that both these studs could be the best in the nation at their respective positions their season year.

The Obvious – There are times in the current May Trojan recruiting process that Pete Carroll seems to somewhere and everywhere.

The Not So Obvious – So how come out you recruiting gurus out there didn't know that on Tuesday Saint Pete was at Fullerton Troy High School checking out powerful, projected fullback Derrick Coleman (6-0, 220)? Our sources in the Freeway League tell us the kid is "incredible." A first-team All-Freeway League and an All-CIF Division IX selection in 2005, Derrick was the 2006 Freeway League Player of the Year as a junior. There is some sentiment that Coleman may be the top player in OC in 2007. Of course, some kid named D.J. Shoemate might have something to say about that. FYI, Coleman was considered quite a varsity basketball player for Troy during his sophomore year, but didn't play hoops last season.

The Obvious – When the Trojans travel to Nebraska for their first road game of the season, they will have played one game, having hosted Idaho in the opener on Sept. 1.

The Not So Obvious – When Nebraska hosts the Trojans, they will have played two games, hosting Nevada on Sept. 1 and traveling to Wake Forest on Sept. 8.

The Obvious – Lincoln, Nebraska is a football-crazed city devoted entirely to their beloved Cornhuskers.

The Not So Obvious - A number of Trojan fans who are making the trip to Lincoln are beginning to receive information from the Lincoln Convention and Business Bureau. How much does the Cornhusker team mean to the tourist industry? Upon receiving the official 2007 visitors guide, Trojans fans were surprised to see a Cornhusker wallet football schedule card with a color picture of wide receiver Terrence Nunn. Now can you imagine the Los Angeles Convention and Business Bureau including a Trojan color schedule card? Considering our fair city is Hollywood driven, it figures that Pete Carroll, the Prince of LA, would get the photo op.

The Obvious – A celebration of the late Don Clausen, the beloved Trojan supporter from San Diego, will be Saturday, June 23rd at Maderas Golf Club at 4pm.

The Not So Obvious – It should come as no surprise that the Clausen family has asked that donations be made in Don's name to the USC Mario Danelo Scholarship. It is that kind of gesture that reflects perfectly Don's devotion to the Trojans. For those interested, checks should be made out to the USC Mario Danelo Scholarship with a memo: In memory of Don Clausen. Send your donation to: Ron Orr, USC Heritage Hall, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0602. You'll receive a letter from them acknowledging receipt of your donation.

The Obvious – The growing intrigue and mystique of incoming freshman running back Joe McKnight was given an additional booster shot when the Los Angeles Times ran an extensive Sunday article covering everything from expectations for the 2006 consensus prep All-American to the Loouisiana fallout of his decision to attend Troy.

The Not So Obvious – No less an authority in the state of Louisiana is former Trojan assistant, former UCLA head coach, and current Tulane coach Bob Toledo, who said in the Times article that McKnight is "another Reggie Bush. He's that good." With all due respect to Toledo, the O/NSO isn't quite ready to anoint McKnight as the second coming of Bush. For well over a generation after the 1968 graduation of O.J. Simpson, fans were constantly waiting for the second coming of another Simpson, although the Trojans continued to produce legendary Heisman winning backs. Despite the greatness of Marcus Allen, Charles White, Anthony Davis, and even the explosive Bush, none could be put in the Simpson category, unless you took into account Simpson's notorious and infamous post-playing past.

The Obvious – Timing is everything and when a heralded East Los Angeles Junior College All-America tailback named Clarence Davis transferred to Troy to replace O.J. Simpson in 1969, all the comparisons to Simpson began much like Joe McKnight as the next Reggie Bush.

The Not So Obvious – In any other time period, Clarence Davis would have had his own miniature legend, but he had to shoulder the burden of the "next O.J.," and was also caught between the Simpson and the Anthony Davis era. In comparison, Clarence Davis, whose personality was quiet and reserved as opposed to the charismatic Simpson, was as tough as O.J. and both were JC All-Americans, but the former ELAC star wasn't nearly as big, as fast, and didn't provide the incomparable jelly-leg moves. We have seen Joe McKnight in person at last year's Trojan June camp and have seen his film. Most of you have seen the Bush high school highlight film and saw Reggie's Heisman USC career. Bush was at the very least as explosive as Simpson, and it took how many years to get to a Simpson explosive comparison? Close to 35 years, but then again, we aren't a math major.

The reality is we don't expect McKnight to be another Bush, and even Joe says he is not Reggie Bush. If the kid turns out to be the Clarence Davis of his generation, that ain't too shabby. Then again, he could establish himself with his own style for future Trojan running backs to be announced as the "next Joe McKnight." Mike Garrett, Marcus Allen, Ricky Bell, Charles White, Anthony Davis, and Jon Arnett were sensational running backs and all had their own styles, as did Simpson. Only time will tell with Joe McKnight, but let's remember this prodigy is still only going to be a freshman with no experience, as once was the case with above-mentioned Trojan tailbacks. The O/NSO is patient enough with McKnight to watch it all unfold. Hopefully, Trojans fans will be too.

The Obvious – Pete Carroll has assembled, what most agree, is the greatest depth of former All-America prep running backs in quite some time.

The Not So Obvious – With the good news that incoming tailback Marc Tyler is ahead of healing schedule and perhaps the most under publicized back, Broderick Green, waiting in the wings, Trojan fans should all be reminded that Anthony Davis wasn't even considered the top back in his renowned freshman class way back when. Davis only became a starter his sophomore season due to an injury to a starter and the rest is history. Until the hitting starts and the scrimmages commence, everybody coming in is at the same starting line. The ability to pick up the offense, blitz blocking, and injuries will have much to do with separating the contenders from the pretenders.

The Obvious - The Trojans heralded 2007 incoming recruiting class continues to garner awards as Anaheim Servite linebacker Chris Galippo and Orange Lutheran quarterback Aaron Corp were named Orange County co-Players of the Year at Thursday night's Orange County All-Star Game banquet in Brea.

The Not So Obvious – The sold out banquet, attended by over 300 players, coaches, family, and fans, is always highlighted by the announcement of the OC MVP. The night turned a cardinal and gold evening of sorts as former Trojan All-America guard Brad Budde was also on hand to deliver the keynote speech. As for Chris Galippo (photo) and Aaron Corp, they follow in the recent OC MVP Trojan footsteps of Mark Sanchez, Matt Grootegoed, Bernard Riley, and Rob Johnson. According to Phil Anton, game director, the voting for Galippo and Corp ended in a tie and nobody seemed to mind.

The Obvious – There is no better inspirational speaker in our area than Brad Budde, who spoke to the OC All-Star Banquet on his own life and his views on achieving success.

The Not So Obvious – During the course of his PowerPoint inspirational speech entitled "Success Is Learned Before It Is Earned," Brad showed slides of his growing up from photos of his dad, former All-Pro guard Ed Budde, his high school and USC experience, and his own pro career with the Kansas City Chiefs. Brad said, "I am living proof that dreams come true. Don't' let any geek tell you dreams don't come true. When I was a young boy, when everybody was going to summer school, my summer school was going to the Kansas City Chiefs complex and learning from the pros." Brad said that there are snapshots in everybody's life that are life changing. Budde recalled how much it meant to him as a young boy to be holding his dad's dirty, bloody uniform from a Super Bowl appearance. It meant so much to him that he wouldn't even allow the jersey to be washed. In a funnier moment, Brad mentioned his playing days at USC by saying, "We were the winningest class ever until Pete Carroll screwed it up." All in all, it left those in attendance mesmerized and the prep stars wide-eyed.

The Obvious – Orange County has always been a hotbed of Trojan recruiting, and this past year was no different led by Servite linebacker Chris Galippo, Orange Lutheran quarterback Aaron Corp, defensive lineman Michael Reardon, and Edison offensive lineman Martin Coleman, who just completed his spring semester at Troy.

The Not So Obvious – As expected, none of the OC incoming Trojans will participate in the Orange County All-Star Game on July 13 at Orange Coast College, since all of them will be in USC summer school. Don't feel too sorry for the OC All-Star Game; there are plenty of other stars to make the game worth attending, including outstanding Oregon-bound running back recruit Charles Neal from Anaheim Esperanza, who will play for the North.

The Obvious – The Trojan ticket department, beginning June 4, is offering a "The Nickel Package," which allows fans to attend all USC home games with the exception of the UCLA game, unless tickets become available.

The Not So Obvious – Okay, so much for there are no home season ticket packages available, but let's take it all a step higher. For hardcore traveling Trojans, how about a "Dime Package" and put together an away game itinerary that includes all road games with the obvious exceptions of Nebraska and Notre Dame.

The Obvious – Attending a prep combine at Stanford, WeAreSC recruiting guru Scott Schrader gots his luggage, computer, and digital movie camera ripped off at the San Jose airport after landing in NorCal.

The Not So Obvious – Scott informed the O/NSO, "My stuff was moved from my car to another car at the San Jose airport in the Dollar rental car lot. I loaded my luggage and went to get directions. That's when the guy did his dirty work." The happy ending is that the perpetrators were caught and all items returned. Hats off to law enforcement officials, who must have put out the extra effort when they learned Scott was a staff member of WeAreSC (yuck, yuck). No confirmation that one of the detectives in charge of the case was further motivated when Scott promised to tell him the inside Trojan scoop on the recruitment of incoming NorCal receiver Brandon Carswell (photo) from Milpitas and defensive lineman Christian Tupou from Sacramento.

The Obvious – In the world of college recruiting, nobody, outside of WeAreSC publisher Garry P., knows more about Trojan football recruiting than our Scott Schrader and Brian Mathews.

The Not So Obvious – A bit self-promoting? Sure, but these guys work their tails off. In the next edition of WeAreSC magazine, we had the pleasure of interviewing both these rising stars concerning their views on the past and current Trojan recruiting classes, being sons of two Trojan Hall of Fame inductees (former All-America linebacker Clay Mathews and famed columnist Loel Schrader), and some of their nifty little secrets on knowing when a prep blue chipper is leaning towards Tommy Trojan. We think you will enjoy their candid and impartial responses to our questions.

The Obvious – A large contingent of Trojan coaches were on hand for the Nike Combine for high school players that took place last weekend at Stanford.

The Not So Obvious – According to sources at the Nike combine, despite the presence of highly touted running back Darrell Scott of St. Bonaventure, the camp hardly lived up to expectations. Other than Scott, there was a lack of "headliners," although Leuzinger linebacker and UCLA verbal Uona Kaveinga "looked very very good," which caught the attention of the Trojan coaching contingent. We are told that Mater Dei sophomore quarterback Matt Barkley "looked great," and that Corona Centennial junior Matt Scott had an impressive outing. One observer said, "Nobody spins the ball better than Scott and it's not even close. Love his throwing motion. If Scott was 6-3/6-4, he'd have 50 offers, but he's barely 6-feet." San Diego Scripps Ranch sophomore QB Tate Forcier also had an impressive showing, too.

The Obvious – Tonight (Friday) at Cerritos College is the CIF Southern Section Masters Track Meet, which brings together the top CIF SS division qualifiers.

The Not So Obvious – Orange Lutheran junior Blake Ayles, a highly recruited Trojan tight end prospect, last week threw a personal and division final best mark of 190 feet, 6 inches to capture the CIF Division 3 discus. Blake (photo) broke the old D-3 mark of 189 feet, 10 inches set by Reedus Thurmond of Serra High in 1998. Ayles came in sixth in the shot put (50-10.75). Incoming linebacker Chris Galippo came in ninth in the shot put with a heave of 46-06.75.

The Obvious – And finally, there is nothing more precious to an athlete than the number on their jersey, a fact not lost in the art of recruiting.

The Not So Obvious – Of the 2007 recruiting class, according to the latest listed roster, seven of the incoming 18 freshmen Trojans will have the good fortune of wearing their high school number. Those early holiday gifts belong to Jordan Campbell (No. 37), Malcolm Smith (No. 6) Joe McKnight (No. 4), Marc Tyler (No. 26), Broderick Green (No. 29), Rhett Ellison (No. 40), and Marshall Jones (No. 27). The biggest number change? Defensive lineman DaJohn Harris went from No. 3 to No. 98. After all, isn't recruiting a numbers game?

USCFootball.com Top Stories