O/NSO: Recruiting Science edition

If the recent Trojan offer and acceptance by Carson junior-to-be tight end Morell Presley is any indication, leave it to Pete Carroll and his meticulous Trojan staff to make the proper adjustments in the ever changing science of college football recruiting, which is now competing for underclass talent that is still more two years away from stepping onto a college gridiron.

The Obvious – If the recent Trojan offer and acceptance by Carson junior-to-be tight end Morell Presley is any indication, leave it to Pete Carroll and his meticulous Trojan staff to make the proper adjustments in the ever changing science of college football recruiting, which is now competing for underclass talent that is still more two years away from stepping onto a college gridiron.

The Not So Obvious – Don't think for a moment that Pete Carroll and staff are thrilled about making such early offers, but it's all about the competition and the Trojans' recruiting express can't wait for the heavy hitters of the Pac-10 and beyond to get a verbal foot in the door. With this in mind, you may also want to pay close attention to the likes of Phoenix defensive end Devon Kennard and Agoura lineman Kevin Graf, both juniors-to-be, who are strongly on the Trojans' radar. As we have said for years, if you watch what takes place in college basketball recruiting, you can pretty much bet your paycheck that college football will be forced to follow.

The Obvious – Junior-to-be Carson High tight end Morrell Presley announces for the Trojans after a sterling performance at last Saturday's skills camp.

The Not So Obvious – With this superior athlete, the Trojans' evolving recruiting philosophy has reached deep into the future and has sent out the message that in the current state of recruiting affairs, Pete Carroll has little choice but to revise his philosophy and dig deeper or risk losing prospects that normally would be still be in the senior-to-be evaluation process. As for Presley, he also reminded the O/NSO of former Trojan tight end Kori Dickerson, catching everything in sight, even when bumped around by an aggressive secondary. What we may all learn in the future is whether Presley symbolizes an athlete who continues to have that hunger like early Trojan verbal D.J. Shoemate or is content to rest on his early Trojan commit.

The Obvious – There has been discussion in college football circles to have an early signing period like basketball.

The Not So Obvious – Sure, for Trojan verbals like Matt Kalil, Matt Meyer, and Chris Polk, a late summer or early fall signing period would put an official end to it all. However, there is the concern here for players who sign early only to have the head coach take another job. We would buy in if the letter of intent was voided if a head coach leaves and please don't tell the O/NSO that a player signs for a school and not the coach. Balderdash, NCAA, for lack of a more odorous description.

The Obvious – It's that time of the year with a big stretch of June football camps for Pete Carroll and his staff.

The Not So Obvious – A "breather" from the recruiting camps was this week's Trojan Flashback Football Camp and all those young and old Trojan dreamers got their chance to rub elbows with some of Troy's most celebrated stars AND be coached by Pete Carroll's staff. Playing on the hollowed turf of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, these cardinal and gold gridiron Walter Mittys lived a Twilight Zone episode. At the Trojans' Friday evening Stanford pep rally last fall in San Francisco's Union Square, former Trojan receiving star and camp originator Rod Sherman (photo) told us just how rewarding it was to such devoted fans, wide-eyed, coming down the famed Coliseum tunnel. The fee to participate isn't peanuts, but the experience is pure prime rib. Among those former Trojans scheduled to assist were Sam "Bam" Cunningham, Anthony Davis, Brandon Hancock, John Vella, Jaguar John Arnett, Rod Sherman, and John Jackson, a WeAreSC.com contributor.

The Obvious – According to football magazines that are now on the stands, the Trojans are a unanimous selection for No. 1, and a number of them proclaim the Trojans heavy favorites to win the 2007 national championship.

The Not So Obvious – Well, not everybody. In this week's Sporting News, there is a combination survey between SN staff members and fans on the Men of Troy winning the BCS title. Sixty-five percent of the Sporting News staff says Troy won't win it all and 74% of the fans agree. One strong supporter of the Cardinal and Gold taking it all is former Trojan All-America quarterback Carson Palmer. Carson said, "Without a doubt - of course they will. This kid coming in, Joe McKnight, is supposed to be the next Reggie Bush. With John David Booty at quarterback, the O-line they always have and the defense they're going to have, this team is loaded. They get the top recruiting class every year, so there's always a whole bunch of good players. Plus, any time you've got UCLA on your schedule, that's a guaranteed win." Well, Carson, almost any time.

The Obvious – The Trojans continue to heavily recruit Orange Lutheran senior-to-be tight end Blakes Ayles.

The Not So Obvious – With Morrell Presley's announcement and the fact that Morrell is a tight end behind Ayles, you have to wonder how this will affect Blake, especially with the anticipated transfer of former BYU tight end Jordan Cameron. Ayles might feel it's in his best interest to verbal soon to the Trojans or risk a numbers crunch. This is a recruiting topic that will be of high interest to follow.

The Obvious – David Newbury is a former Trojan kicker who also did some extensive radio work in Los Angeles.

The Not So Obvious – So where is David today? Our sources say that David is working on assignment at a Dallas area radio station. On a personal level, the O/NSO found David to be top shelf guy who wasn't afraid to state his opinions on Trojan football. Yes, sometimes he was right and sometimes he was wrong, but we found him to be the former more times than the latter. We are told he would like to come back to the L.A. area in the future and we hope he does.

The Obvious – In a previous edition of the O/NSO, we listed SI.com's Top 10 most ugly uniforms in college football.

The Not So Obvious – SI.com has now come out this week with their Top 10 best looking college football uniforms. From 10-to-1, the order went Georgia, the Trojans, Georgia Southern, Ohio State, Wofford, Notre Dame, Yale, Auburn, Michigan, and No. 1 was Texas. Trust the O/NSO, it was a real stretch ranking the home uniforms of Georgia Southern, Yale, and Auburn ahead of the Cardinal and Gold. For an O/NSO Top 5, we'd go with Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, and the Trojans. Sorry, but given the existing SI.com list, the Trojans home uniforms don't take a backseat to any of the above mentioned.

The Obvious – Trojan linebacker verbal Maurice Simmons of Compton Dominguez was an obvious standout at Saturday's skills camp.

The Not So Obvious – During drills, it didn't take long for Maurice to take control of his defensive unit. Waving arms and calling out assignments, Maurice can best described as a warrior. Although it was disappointing that his brother Marquis didn't participate but was in attendance, the O/NSO had a chance to talk with Marquis and you can tell this lad was raised with total politeness and respect. From former Trojan linebacker star Champ Simmons to future Cardinal and Gold performers Maurice and Marquis, you can credit their mother and their father Melvin, whose Midwestern Kansas roots of manners is evident. Marquis also told us his father was quite a two-sport star, a tailback in football and a guard in basketball.

The Obvious – Trojan tackle verbal Matt Meyer of Stockton Lincoln was one of the stars of stars at Sunday's linemen camp.

The Not So Obvious – If you think that Matt speaks the offensive line "language" on a prep All-America level, the bright and articulate giant speaks fluent Japanese. In fact, he started learning Japanese in 8th grade with his principal before class. How well does he speak? Well, good enough to tell the O/NSO he could get by in Tokyo. The future Marshall Business School entrant had a goal for this past weekend, and it was to "beat the crap out of people to make other people commit." And how would we describe Matt's weekend? We'd say it was a "konichiwa."

The Obvious – Junior-to-be offensive lineman Kevin Graf from Agoura continues to impress as he grows into his huge frame (6-6, 290).

The Not So Obvious – The brother of former Trojan OL Derek Graf, Kevin gets those great Trojan football legacy genes from his father, Allen Graf, who was one helleva offensive starting guard on the legendary 1972 national champions. Allan, who also has been in the motion picture industry both in front and behind the camera, told the O/NSO that he and Universal Studios have a touching football film coming up entitled "The Express – the Ernie Davis Story." Davis was a 1961 Heisman Trophy winning tailback at Syracuse before being cut down at 23 from leukemia. The Express stars Dennis Quad and Rob Brown and even Graf's son, Derek, has a part. For Trojan fans with keen eyes, former Trojan Sandy Fletcher doubles for Rob Brown, who plays the late Ernie Davis.

The Obvious – During last Saturday's skills camp, Trojan offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian had the challenging task of organizing the offensive units and getting them to executive various pass plays.

The Not So Obvious – So how do you get a large number of players to run plays? Steve held up a large card resembling an L.A. freeway map that told receivers the pass routes to run. Sark told the O/NSO that the formations and plays "were a variation of the different plays we (USC) run."

The Obvious – Daniel Bernard, an offensive lineman from Colton High, was a standout at the linemen camp.

The Not So Obvious – Sporting a Mohawk and a nasty temperament, Bernard, who has the nickname of "Tex" from days in Texas, made inroads in the eyes of the Trojan coaching staff, and you get the impression that while he might not be on the "A" list of recruits, the kid certainly could be a possibility if any of the "A" group doesn't come to Troy.

The Obvious – The Trojan skills and linemen camps were open to both men and women.

The Not So Obvious – With that cue, Granada Hills Charter had Janaeaha "Bulldog" Fennel as the lone female camper. A delightful competitor, "Bulldog" told us that she started young, going from flag to Pop Warner football. Yep, she was part of the linemen camp and showed some real versatility by displaying her skills as a long snapper. In fact, long after the camp had ended, Bulldog was still on the field working on her long snapping skills with Trojan coach Sam Anno. FYI, she also wrestles at the 160 pound weight class.

The Obvious – Lenny Vandemade is a former starting Trojan offensive lineman during the Pete Carroll era.

The Not So Obvious – Lenny was doing a good job as a lead and vocal coach during the linemen camp and looks to have a promising future in the world of coaching.

The Obvious – The large turnout of players over the weekend all had dreams of impressing the Trojan coaching staff and coming away with an offer.

The Not So Obvious – There were a number of different hairstyles being displayed on Sunday and a number of Mohawk haircuts. One Mohawk lineman was sporting one with UCLA blue in it. Perhaps it might have made a better impression had this young player had bleached it cardinal and gold.

The Obvious – Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis has announced that when the Trojans face the Irish this October, the Domers will be wearing their green jerseys.

The Not So Obvious – Well, in Dana Carvey's Church Lady accent, "Well, isn't that special." Weis said the team would wear green jerseys to honor the 1977 team because that was the game he remembered best from his college days, an Irish 49-14 rout of the Trojans. Oh darn, the O/NSO thought the Trojans last visit to Notre Dame was the best game Charlie had seen with the green jerseys. Coming into 2007 with the least talented of his Irish teams, apparently old Charlie was concerned he wasn't go to get the attention of the Trojans this season, so help me Dwayne "4th and 9" Jarrett.

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The Obvious – Trojan senior nose tackle Sedrick Ellis and senior offensive tackle Sam Baker are on the Outland Trophy preseason watch list.

The Not So Obvious – The coveted Outland Trophy has seen just one Trojan, tackle Ron Yary (1967), receive the honor, and for this year, just as Pete Carroll would want it, competition for the award runs between one of his prized defensive player and one of his highly honored offensive players.

The Obvious – There are times in southern California that you have to take a step back and shake your head at the amount of humanity that lives in our diverse and attractive area.

The Not So Obvious – One key recruiting factor for such a populated area such as ours is that fact that many Trojan out-of-state recruits have family members living in and around the Los Angeles basin. As a rare Mississippi recruit, offensive lineman Templeton Hardy told our Brian Mathews, "Distance will not play a factor in my decision; I can go anywhere and play really. USC is a title team and they know how to win, I am going to give them a look. I also have uncles and cousins that live in Los Angeles, and we are actually pretty close."

The Obvious – One of the most anticipated participants in the Rising Seniors Camp next Thursday and Friday is Trojan verbal and Servite superstar WR-RB D.J. Shoemate, who did not play last year due to a foot injury.

The Not So Obvious – Talking to Frank Kalil, Servite High assistant football coach and father of Ryan and Matt, Frank said D.J. is totally healthy and itching to get back to the business of football, which was later confirmed by WeAreSC's Erik McKinney, who covered the Dana Hills Passing Tournament with a video and written report. Frank Kalil says D.J. still has to be reminded that he doesn't have to lay it all on the line right now but just get back into the groove. The O/NSO asked coach Kalil where he thought D.J. would be best suited at the college level, and he honestly said either running back or wide receiver.

The Obvious – The Trojans nationally televised ABC game at Nebraska (5 p.m. PDT) will be preceded by Notre Dame at Michigan (12:30 p.m. PDT).

The Not So Obvious – And if you don't wish to watch the Irish and Wolverines do battle, you can always switch from ABC to ESPN to view Ohio State at Washington (12:30 p.m. PDT). And if those 12:30 kickoff games don't fire you up, guess you'll have to switch to Texas at UCF (ESPN2) or Florida International at Miami (ESPNU). Of course the Trojans' two Arkansas transfers, Mitch Mustain and Damian Williams, might want to check out the Razorbacks at Alabama (3:45) on ESPN. Care to guess who those two will be rooting for, so help me Houston Nutt?

The Obvious – The Trojans first opponent this season is a home contest against Idaho, which was 4-8 in 2006.

The Not So Obvious – Well, when you're 4-8 in 2006 and you're opening the season against the No. 1 ranked USC Trojans in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, you can't blame the Vandals if they look ahead to game two. Wouldn't you, if were hosting Cal Poly San Luis Obispo after the expected mauling from the Trojans?

The Obvious – And finally, there are those who will grumble that the Trojans shouldn't be playing Idaho this or any season, even though Heritage Hall tried to avoid the confrontation after Nick Holt, current Trojan defensive coordinator, left as the Vandals' head coach.

The Not So Obvious – Well, before you go wild, national championship contender Michigan opens its season hosting two-time defending 1-AA champion Appalachian State. It's the first time that UM has played a 1-AA team since the classification was launched in 1978. Wonder how that looks on the BCS ranking resume.


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