Trojans Bring in the Big Class

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.

The faxes are in and the ink has dried. After securing another star-studded recruiting class Pete Carroll and the USC staff can now catch up on weeks of missed sleep.

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.


Tyron Smith
 The 6-5, 267-pound tackle has the perfect frame for the  tackle position and could easily bulk up to 300 pounds  when Coach Carlisle gets him into the strength and  conditioning program. Smith showed his potential at  the U.S. Army All-American Bowl practices where he  and Kalil shut down  the top defensive end recruits in the country.

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."

Mater Dei's Khaled Holmes and Daniel Campbell from Houston, TX will add depth at the guard position for the Trojans in 2008.

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.

"He's over 300 pounds. He's a big, big kid. Might have been in the range of a Deuce Lutui or John Drake kind of kid," Carroll said about Campbell's potential.

With the departures of All-American Sedrick Ellis, Lawrence Jackson and Alex Morrow, the defensive line was a major focus for the coaches in this class.

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.


Nick Perry
"This guy, Nick Perry, from Detroit, is a guy that we really love. This is the kid that had 36 sacks this year. He's just a phenomenal football player," Carroll raved. "He's a 4.5 guy at the Army combine, which is a tremendous time for this make-up, so we're really thrilled about what  he's going  to bring and what he's going to add to the pass rush."

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.

Along with Perry the Trojans brought in two of the top defensive end recruits in California in Wes Horton and Malik Jackson.

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."


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