O/NSO: Sanctified edition

While an exciting number of future Trojan commits, potential Trojan commits, and hopeful Trojan prospects were romping around the Coliseum turf on Thursday evening, the most important news coming out of Heritage Hall thisweek was the announcement that Hershel Dennis will be Coliseum-romping for keeps in 2007, as the former Trojan starter was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

The Obvious – While an exciting number of future Trojan commits, potential Trojan commits, and hopeful Trojan prospects were romping around the sanctified Coliseum turf on Thursday evening, the most important news coming out of Heritage Hall this week was the announcement that tailback Hershel Dennis will be Coliseum-romping for keeps in 2007, as the former Trojan starter was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA.

The Not So Obvious – Thanks to his impressive late spring performance and his eye opening performance at The Huddle, the legal addition of Dennis puts some serious heat in the competition at tailback for 2007. Yeah, we know all about the current contenders and competitors, but even in his abbreviated spring, no one showed that they could do it all like Hershel. This Trojan team needs a home run hitter to truly put itself in an offensive position to rise above the competition to get to New Orleans and win it all. Dennis has the ability to help take some weight off the shoulders of QB John David Booty, so help me Justin Fargas.

The Obvious – Touted incoming freshman defensive end Everson Griffen knew he was a Trojan when he came charging down the fabled Coliseum entrance a year ago at the Rising Seniors Camp, and the general consensus after Thursday night's annual Coliseum run-down-the-tunnel that a number of the country's most wanted schoolboy legends now know it, too.

The Not So Obvious – Folks, it was not just another twilight Thursday night campers' Coliseum field trip. Pete Carroll turned the whole experience into as realistic a Trojan pregame home game experience complete bus ride, a "Trojan Walk" down the peristyle entrance, the inspirational meeting at the center of the field, and locker room build up. You didn't have to wonder why celebrated prep phenoms like Houston Aldine offensive lineman Daniel Campbell came charging down the Coliseum tunnel with that Everson Griffen look. With a 10-piece version of the Trojan Marching Band welcoming the campers to the Coliseum by playing Fanfare, Tribute to Troy, and Fight On, there was a warm and fuzzy feeling by the "campers," especially as they came down the tunnel chanting "War Time." To top it all, Pete Carroll even had the mini version of the TMB playing the National Anthem before the campers played some Trojan Ball.

The Obvious – In the Trojans' camp brochure, this week's Rising Seniors Camp was advertised with that title.

The Not So Obvious – However, the O/NSO has been told that the name was recently changed to Rising Stars Camp because of the new emphasis of underclass players being invited. It goes hand-in-hand with the evolving Pete Carroll philosophy to go with the competition and recruit younger.

The Obvious – Perhaps the biggest offensive anticipation for the Rising Stars Camp was the expected appearance of Rancho Verde offensive tackle Tyron Smith, who did not make an appearance on Thursday but will be in attendance on Friday.

The Not So Obvious – The disappointment with not seeing Tyron on Thursday was tempered by the announcement on Scout.com that he had committed to the Trojans and would inform the coaching staff before Friday's camp session. Well, you can safely say that that Tyron's Trojan verbal helps erase the disappointment of losing offensive guard James Wilson from last year's class. As a new Trojan verbal, Tyron's appearance Friday will be closely observed by those in attendance. It's possible that Trojan fans could be seeing the line of the future if offensive line coach Pat Ruel decides to line up a unit of starting tackles Matt Kalil and Matt Meyer, Daniel Campbell and Tyron Smith at guards, and still a question mark at center.

The Obvious - As predicted the Trojans M&M future offensive tackles, Matt Kalil and Matt Meyer were both dominating figures in drills.

The Not So Obvious - Kalil continued to play Thursday despite spraining his right thumb on the first contact session against San Marcos Mission Hills DE Jamaar Jarrett. Kalil sucked it up, got taped, and was back at it with the success that has earned him the reputation as the premier prep tackle in America. According to a close source of Matt's, the Servite prodigy has never suffered a broken bone in his athletic career. Not to be outdone in the injury department, Matt Meyer, who had his camp T-shirt ripped to shreds in intense combat, hurt his hamstring and, too, continued to workout but elected not to participate in Thursday night's Coliseum Trojan Ball activity.

The Obvious – The Rising Stars Camp figured to unveil a player that would become a strong candidate for one of Pete Carroll's valued scholarships.

The Not So Obvious – From the prospective of the O/NSO, that player is Hawaii's Solomon Koehler, a Bernard Riley clone from Castle High in Kaneohe. A bull of a player with a big motor, Koehler (6-2, 305), was relentless and showed versatility by playing both defensive tackle and offensive guard, positions he plays for his high school. Solomon certainly caught the attention of the Trojan coaching, and we would be very surprised if an offer isn't forthcoming. At this point in time, Koehler has offers from Colorado, Arizona, Oregon State, San Diego State, and Hawaii. The big kid out of Oahu is not longer a secret thanks to the Rising Stars Camp. Some other good performances we evaluated came from Seattle lineman Alameda Ta'amu, Arkansas corner Joe Adams, and Long Beach Poly safety Vaughn Telemaque. And let's not forget Trojan linebacker verbal Maurice Simmons, who just loves to play anything as illustrated by his enthusiasm playing Trojan Ball in the Coliseum. This kid is a gym rat for football.

The Obvious – Servite all-purpose back D.J. Shoemate made his debut on Thursday with a solid performance.

The Not So Obvious – In one of the timing drills, D.J. clocked a reported 4.58 in the 40 and seemed to be moving freely from his recovered foot injury. He is such a physical kid and plays with a great deal of intensity. However, we believe that in the biggest of pictures, it is at running back that may his final destination. Yes, he has great hands and with that in mind, he could be yet another Reggie Bush-type candidate to move all over the field when he finally get to Troy.

The Obvious – It is a normal occurrence that Pete Carroll likes to take control of some of the drills by being is own quarterback.

The Not So Obvious – For the record, on Thursday Carroll had a rough outing as he threw two interceptions, an anomaly. Of course former quarterback and Trojan offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian also got in the fray by throwing a pick on the last play of the morning session. Sark tried to make up for his INT by attempting to chase down the defensive back to no avail. Hey, give the coach credit, he didn't give up on the play.

The Obvious – One player who thought he had a lot to prove on Thursday was Hemet offensive lineman Hamani Stevens.

The Not So Obvious – We were impressed with Hamani, who did a fine job at center and even played some defense. The only potential negative would be his height (6-2). He reminded the O/NSO somewhat of former Trojan Tony Slaton, who was listed on a survey in WeAreSC magazine as Troy's all-time center. Don't know where the kid ranks in the pecking order, but he proved to us he's a fine player, which in the age of Trojan football, doesn't transcend into an invitation to be part of Pete Carroll's monster program.

The Obvious – As is the case for most camps, football or basketball, not all the expected headliners make an appearance.

The Not So Obvious – There was some disappointment that the likes of Florida linebacker Marcus Robinson, Oregon defensive lineman Ethan Johnson, and Corona offensive lineman Max Tuioti-Mariner were no-shows. Rumor was that Robinson might have finally gotten an offer from Miami, a strong favorite, but the no-show of Johnson was a bit perplexing given the fact that his prep coach, Phil Stone, was a Rising Stars Camp counselor. Tuioti-Mariner may still be recovering for a lingering injury, and it appears the Trojans may be parting ways with Arizona recruit Gerell Robinson, who elected not to attend this week's camp in favor of another camp.

The Obvious – When a player gets recruited to Troy, he knows that the next year the Trojans will probably recruit another player at his position to increase the competition.

The Not So Obvious – In that in mind, it was no surprise that when the offensive and defensive lines got together in the Rising Stars Camp, a collection of current Trojan offensive linemen came by to take a look. Checking out the "youngsters" were Drew Radovich, Nick Howell, Charles Brown, and Matt Spanos.

The Obvious – The Rising Stars Camp brings out all sorts of noted personnel from the world of football.

The Not So Obvious – Beside a couple of NFL coaches in attendance, ESPN.com's National Director of Recruiting Tom Luginbill was in town checking out the talent. Besides getting a chance to look at some of ESPN.com's Top 150, Lugenbill was also checking out potential talent for the ESPN Classic, the new national high school football game that will be played Jan. 4 in Orlando. Luginbill played his prep ball at Torrey Pines High along with former Trojan tight end John Allred. We would also be remiss in not mentioning in our Thursday discussion with Luginbill that his father, Al Luginbill, was a former teacher of the O/NSO when we attended Pasadena City College way back when, and Tom's dad was also an assistant football coach for the Lancers with Trojan pre-game radio personality Harvey Hyde.

The Obvious – It figured that there would be a real tug of war over prep talent between the ESPN Class and the U.S. Army All-America game, which both were originally schedule to compete against each other on the same day and same national television time window.

The Not So Obvious –. On Thursday, ESPN's Tom Luginbill told the O/NSO, "We expect a major announcement about the game on Monday. We hope to provide the players an experience for a week much like what happens at the Senior Bowl. We would to make it also like a college bowl week. We've got tremendous resources (Walt Disney World, ESPN0 for a player's experience unmatched." Rumor is that the U.S. Army All-America Game has decided to move their NBC game to Sunday while the ESPN Classic will remain on Saturday for their ABC nationally televised exposure.

The Obvious – ESPN's national high school football game to be played Jan. 5 in Orlando, Florida.

The Not So Obvious – For those that follow recruiting and all-star games, those four letters, E-S-P-N, are now seeing just how much the role of sports most prominent network has on the high school football community. As reported earlier, a number of the nation's top prep players for next fall have already committed to the ESPN Classic, and it's expect that a number of Trojan verbals will also follow suit. Let's face it, would you rather spend a week in San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-America game or spend part of your winter break at Disney World with your family, all the while ESPN pours all its network resources in a skills competition on ESPN2 and daily reports on ESPNU. And for good measure, SportsCenter updates and a nationally televised game on ABC. You can bet that once the football season starts, from ABC college football to all the ESPN channels, the publicity will roll and those prep legends will be awed by the new game's exposure.

The Obvious – ESPN has poured a huge amount of money, time, and priorities into its new recruiting database and plans on making a drive for No. 1 in the recruiting information world.

The Not So Obvious – As one who frequently visited ESPN.com and was a subscriber prior to WeAreSC.com's affliation with the World Wide Leader in Sports, that new recruiting commitment was shown last week when a member of the ESPN 2008 Watch List, safety Dee Finley of Auburn, Alabama made a verbal commitment to Florida and the announcement was billboarded on the ESPNNEWS headline section of the college football front page.

The Obvious – Jim Muldoon is the Pac-10's associate commissioner of communications and football administration.

The Not So Obvious – In regards to a media release this week concerning the official Pac-10 2007 football schedule, Muldoon wrote "Pacific- 10 Conference television partners ABC/ESPN Sports, Fox Sports Net, and Versus combine to provide extensive coverage of Pac-10 football in 2007. ABC and ESPN will combine to televise 20 games from Pac-10 sites, while FSN will air 13 games and Versus five games to a national cable audience. In addition to the Conference television packages, individual schools at times may present games on a local over-the-air or cable entities." Yeah, we know what you want to know; what are the four other Versus nationally televised games besides the Trojans hosting Stanford on Oct. 6? FYI, Arizona at BYU (Sept. 1), BYU at UCLA (Sept. 8), Cal at Stanford (Dec. 1), and two to be announced (Set. 22 & Oct. 13).

The Obvious – There is nothing like lying in bed late at night with your remote control and just channel surf without a care in the world.

The Not So Obvious – And much to the excitement of the O/NSO as we were "descending" down the 300 level Cox channels, we stumbled onto the mysterious Versus channel, television home of the Stanford versus Trojan football game. You can imagine the adrenaline rush that raced through our body. Even though we will be at the Coliseum for the Jim Harbaugh-led Cardinal debut, we now have peace of mind that those that can't make have hope that the Versus channel exists.

The Obvious – The Trojans defeated Michigan, 32-18, in the 93rd Rose Bowl game.

The Not So Obvious – Although the Trojans will take dead aim for New Orleans and the BCS championship, the Tournament of Roses will hold out some hope that if the Trojan don't take a trip down South, they'll return to their Pasadena home away from home. FYI, the TOR recently announced its theme for the Jan. 1 parade and it's "Passport to the World's Celebrations." And one additional note, the 2008 Rose Parade and 94th Rose Bowl Game falls on a Tuesday.

The Obvious – One of the fan favorites of a Trojan traveling safari to New Orleans would be the fine cuisine of the French Quarter.

The Not So Obvious – Not to be outdone in the Southern food department, the Tournament of Roses recently announced that Chef Emeril Lagasse will be the Grand Marshal for the 2008 Rose Parade. Ironically, not only does Largesse, who is a best-selling author and television personality, own nine restaurants, three are located in New Orleans. Who knew?

The Obvious – Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg has stepped down to assume the role of vice-president of university planning and development for the new Big Ten television network.

The Not So Obvious – We had the wonderful opportunity a few years ago to work with Kevin at some NCAA men's basketball tournament action in Sacramento and he is a first-class administrator. Last time we saw him was last year in a brief meeting at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. We bring this up because if the Big Ten television network becomes successful, and there is no reason to believe that it won't, it could change the landscape the way college sports is televised. For example, if there was a Pac-10 television network, it figures the Stanford/Trojan game would be on the Pac-10 network and not on the evolving Versus. With the Trojans the Pac-10's current main BCS money machine and West Coast draw, one wonders if the Men of Troy will be the straw that stirs a future Pac-10 network drink.

The Obvious – Scout has unveiled its Top 100 seniors for next season.

The Not So Obvious – For those paranoid souls that continue to fret about the current Trojans "star" system, guess you'll have to "settle" for just three current Trojan verbals in the Scout Top 30 of their Top 100. Think that most of the other competition would like to have the likes of Servite offensive tackle Matt Kalil (#7 and the premier OL in the country), multi-purpose Servite talent D.J. Shoemate (#23) and Stockton Lincoln OL Matt Meyer (#29)? Nobody will be sending a box of Kleenex to Heritage Hall, my friends.

The Obvious – The O/NSO always appreciates good, informative subscriber input.

The Not So Obvious – Recently loyal subscriber Rob wrote, "Just checked the latest ONSO, after a couple of business trips I've been on. As usual, Greg manages to impart valuable info rolled up into humor. His characterization of Matt Meyer's good performance that after was a fine pun, although not literally correct. And admittedly, I'm rusty in "nihon go" these days, but "kon nichi wa", literally means something like "as for the afternoon (or day), how is it (treating you or going, etc.?). In another words, it's used as a salutation like buenas tardes is in Spanish. It does not mean a good afternoon, as in he had a good afternoon (performance wise). That would have been better said as "tottemo zyoozu" or "umai". A good player is "kousenshu", so he was a good player is: "kousenshu deshita". BTW, the Japanese nowadays, often say "afu ta noon" (from the English) instead of using a pure Japanese word." The O/NSO is always willing to learn and you never know when the Trojans will play in Japan, but as far as this subject, it's "sayonara" for me. Rob, that's what the O/NSO gets for taking two years of French at Alhambra High. Merci and sayonara.

The Obvious – SC head coach Pete Carroll held his "Trojans In Training" Football Camp this earlier this week for players from third through eighth grade.

The Not So Obvious – With a full-capacity of 700 youngsters, we felt it was an O/NSO responsibility to check with WeAreSC's crack recruiting writers Scott Schrader and Brian Mathews, and they confirm that there were no verbal commitments, but there was a fourth grader who ran a 4.33 40 time. Believe the name they gave me was Reggiena Bushnell from La Mesa, and she will be added to the WeAreSC Futures Watch List. We jest, of course.

The Obvious – Transfer quarterback Mitch Mustain is working out with his new teammates during 7-on-7.

The Not So Obvious – One trusted bystander told the O/NSO that you can tell that Mitch has not yet become a graduate of the Coach Carlisle strength and conditioning regimen. Just looking at the other quarterback you could tell the difference in weight configuration. Give old Mitch a year and he'll probably tell you he is a believer. The bystander also said that Mitch looked very good and just looked like a big-time quarterback.

The Obvious – Trojan linebacker coach Ken Norton expects big things this season out of starting junior linebacker Brian Cushing.

The Not So Obvious – Hmm, now we know for a fact that Norton has been a major influence with his carnivorous linebackers, but did we notice that Cushing now tapes his fingers before competition like his fanatical, charismatic linebacker coach?

The Obvious – Highly touted incoming freshman running back Joe McKnight is a recent graduate of John Curtis High in River Ridge, Louisiana.

The Not So Obvious – In an SI.com poll of the top high school athletic programs in the country, McKnight's alma mater is ranked No. 6, one ahead of Santa Ana Mater Dei, which has provided the Trojans with the recent likes of Matt Leinart, Matt Grootegoed, and Lenny Vandermade. FYI, John Curtis High has an enrollment of 350 students while Mater Dei has an enrollment of 2,300. John Curtis was state champions in football and girls' softball this year while Mater Dei was a state champion in boys' basketball. For the record, SI.com had Long Beach Poly tied at No. 10. The top program listed was Portland Jesuit in Oregon, which had state champions in football, girls' cross- country, boys' swimming, girls' tennis, and men's golf.

The Obvious – And finally, during a break during Thursday's Rising Stars Camp, a number of the Trojans' incoming freshmen came running out of Dedeaux Field after their "daily" Coach Carlisle workout.

The Not So Obvious – The buzz around campus is that a number of freshmen have been pre-warned from those that arrived early for summer conditioning that they better be in shape. Well there is being in shape and there is being in Trojan football shape. One of the more beleaguered incoming frosh coming off the field was touted offensive lineman Kris O'Dowd, who looked at any minute that he was simply going to fall flat on his face on Brian Kennedy-Howard Jones Field. Welcome to Camp Carlisle, kiddo.


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