When looking over the Trojans 2008 recruiting class, which is the top rated class in the Pac-10 conference, and ranked ninth nationally by Scout.com, the 10 outstanding linemen stand out among a class filled with outstanding football players and high character kids.
"It's an exciting group of guys. It's a championship class again. We think of this class as a big class because of all the big guys involved in it," said an excited Pete Carroll.
The Trojans class is stocked with outstanding line prospects on both sides of the ball, headlined by Matt Kalil and Tyron Smith on the offensive side and Detroit defensive end Nicholas Perry on the defensive side.
"This is a little bit different year than we've had and it was really necessary for us to address these roster issues and we had to load up on a couple spots," Carroll explained. "You will see by the numbers how evident it is by the 10 linemen that we've taken in this class."
The offensive line class is considered the best in the nation and starts with the two massive five-star tackles, Matt Kalil and Tyron Smith.
Matt Kalil, the younger brother of former USC center Ryan Kalil, is the most technically sound lineman in the Trojans class and has the potential to make an impact as a freshman.
"We've loved the way he plays," Carroll said of Kalil. "Great intensity. We think he's truly a tackle but we're going to see how he fits and see what works best for him. He plays very physical and very tough football."
While Kalil is a more polished player, Tyron Smith is the most physically gifted offensive line recruit in the entire nation.
"This is probably the best athlete that we've recruited in the years we've been here to play offensive tackle. He's a very lean, fit, flexible, quick, strong, beautiful-looking kid," Carroll said.
Matt Meyer is the most versatile lineman in the group. Standing 6-8, 285 pounds, Meyer possesses a rare combination of size and athleticism and could play either guard or tackle at the college level.
"He's a really classy kid, a warm, bright kid who's had a chance to graduate early and take advantage of the academic opportunity and take advantage of spring football," Carroll said of Meyer. "It'll give him a real chance to compete for playing time."
Khaled Holmes, the younger brother of former USC tight end Alex Homes, is very familiar with the USC coaching staff and offensive scheme which will help him compete for early playing time.
"We'd like to see him play guard, but he can play guard or tackle," Carroll said. "He's a really bright kid, a tremendous student. He's just a fantastic prospect to get because of the familiarity he has and the coaching he's had to compete and battle early."
Rounding out the offensive line class is big Daniel Campbell from Aldine HS in Texas. At 6-5, 320 pounds, Campbell is a true road grader. The USC coaches were impressed by the big guards agility and footwork when he camped at USC last summer.
The Trojans already impressive defensive line class got a major boost yesterday with the commitment of Detroit defensive end Nicholas Perry. In Perry USC landed an elite pass rushing end that recorded 36 sacks in his senior year at King HS.
After seeing Perry in person at the U.S Army Bowl it isn't hard to see why Pete Carroll is so excited about the speed and athleticism that Perry brings to the defensive end position.
Wes Horton played defensive tackle this season at Notre Dame HS but will be back at his natural end position at USC. Malik Jackson, from Birmingham HS, is the most underrated player in the USC class and is considered the top pass rusher in the state by many recruiting experts.
"Both of these kids are 6-foot-5 plus and have a lot of range and pass rushing ability to them. They're going to fill out into big kids for us," Carroll said of the pair.
With All-American defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis likely to be drafted in the first 5-10 picks, the Trojans had a big need for defensive tackles, and they filled that need with Jurrell Casey and Armond Armstead.
Jurrell Casey is a 6-2, 282-pound run stuffing tackle that also possesses the speed to get pressure on the quarterback. Pete Carroll said Casey's frame and style of play reminds him of Mike Patterson.
"This is a guy that has always been known for his hitting and for chasing the football and making big plays on both sides of the ball." Carroll said. "He has been featured as a defensive tackle, and we see him at the nose tackle spot."
"We can expect to have him contribute and play for us in his first year. We had him in camp as well and really loved him when he participated and competed there. He showed us a lot of good stuff."
Armond Armstead is a 6-5, 290-pound four-star defensive tackle from Pleasant Grove High School in Elk Grove, CA. Pete Carroll said he expects the big tackle to play the three technique in the Trojans defense.
"This is a very talented kid who plays football very well, very much so in his last two years. When we had him in camp, we really fell in love with him and his intensity," said Carroll. "He came back-to-back days to make sure that he made an impression. We were impressed with that."
With the long and tiresome recruiting process finally over, Pete Carroll cracked a big smile and proclaimed,"It's a great class. Guys that are going to excel in the classroom. Guys that are going to come in here to try to make a spot for themselves right off the bat. We're really pleased about it."