After much debate on the decision to take a quarterback or not this season it appears the Trojan coaches are set to add a player at this spot. Chris Leak has suddenly put the Trojans on his short list and Norm Chow took it so seriously that he hopped on a plane during the Trojan bye week to make a personal appearance in North Carolina. Right now Tennessee (brother plays for the Vols) is the favorite, along with Florida, but Chris will take an official visit to USC for the game with the Irish (another school on his list). If his parents make the trip, the Trojans are in the hunt. A wild card could be Matt Engle, a player Chow is known to love because of his intangibles but there are reservations about his lack of size. Chow places an importance on football intelligence and instinct, two trademarks that Engle has plenty of (his dad is a coach at El Camino College). Pete Carroll watched Matt play last Friday and he wouldn't have wasted his time if there wasn't serious interest. An interesting athlete is Dennis Dixon, a talented player who will pay a visit to the Trojans. He has size, ability and a history of winning.
This spot is a priority with the uncertain status of Fargas (eligibility) and Poston (back) for next season which leaves freshmen Hershel Dennis and Brandon Hancock as the only returners with any real experience. Chauncey Washington was an early commit in this class, a combination power and speed runner who was putting up incredible numbers early in the season before a knee injury sidelined him for several games. The Trojan coaches were extremely supportive during his injury and right now his verbal is strong. Jody Adewale is a longtime Trojan fan who committed on the spot after the Cal game and he will come in to play fullback. He is an all-around back who can run, block and catch and is averaging over 13 yards per carry as a FB in a run-oriented offense. The coaches will look to take one or two more tailbacks in this group. Maurice Drew is simply a terrific football player and he would be a perfect fit on this team. He brings an incredible blend of balance, power and explosion to his runs and has come up big in both DeLaSalle victories over Long Beach Poly. Our staff showed interest in him as a CB but switched the offer to RB after he made it clear that offense is his preference. Lendale White is another "big" back and he recently became the All-Time leading rusher in Colorado high school history. White has included the Trojans on his list of favorites from the beginning and we should definitely be in the hunt to the end on this one. Barrington Edwards is considered one of the top players on the East Coast and the Maryland star will take a trip to USC while Charles Burnley is a local product who is being evaluated. One player to watch could be junior college RB/WR Alvin Marshall, an incredibly quick player who can make people miss. Alvin originally committed to Nebraska out of high school.
It is the year of the wide receiver in Southern California and the Trojans are well positioned to land a couple major additions. The two gems in the class, Whitney Lewis and Steve Smith, are both seriously considering USC with Smith confirming in recent weeks that if he had to commit now it would be USC. Steve missed a few weeks early in the season with an ankle injury but he is back to his old self with a smooth style, good use of his hands and the toughness to go across the middle. As good as he is on offense, Smith may be an even better corner. Lewis has taken notice of the improved performance by the Trojans and has pulled us even with Florida State and Texas. The Trojans were one of the first schools to talk with Lewis last spring about the possibility of playing running back in college and Whitney has seen double duty at times this year as a runner. If we could add one of these players to the combo of Colbert and Williams next season it would be great and to get both would be even better. Mark Bradford catches the ball as well as any player from the area since Keary Colbert and he will also look to play hoops in college. Noah Smith has real speed and has been compared with Samie Parker. With the success of Mike Williams the coaches have tried to reach back into the south for guys like Amp Hill, Andre Caldwell and Chad Jackson but at this point only Hill Don't be surprised if we bring in at least one JC receiver as well with a pair of good ones at the top of the list in Willie Dixon and Willie Johnson.
The best athlete at tight end is Chris Barrett and the good news is that the Trojans lead for his services but the bad news is that he might end up on the defensive side of the ball so the Trojans would love to add another TE in this class. A couple others to watch include Greg Olsen from New Jersey and Aaron Johnson.
A major priority (isn't that the case every year) and the staff is off to a solid start with verbals from Travis Draper and Ryan Kalil. Both players are good athletes with a physical nature and that seems to be the mold for Trojan OL recruits this year. The Trojans are in the hunt for their top priority at tackle in Drew Radovich and it will be a serious battle as Drew is fairly open among his top choices. Radovich has a frame that will develop quickly with a college training program and he is going to be a great one. Sam Baker brings exactly the type pitbull attitude that you want in an offensive lineman and he is the top choice at guard right now. Sam and teammate Chris Barrett are good friends and would be a wonderful package deal for the Trojans. Ryan Harris and Joe Thomas are two studs from the Midwest who have shown interest in USC but at this point it would be a longshot to land either player. Matt Reese has played well this fall and could be an option. The coaches will also look to the junior college ranks with Keola Loo from Orange Coast as the most likely candidate.
With so many talented recruits available don't be surprised if the Trojans load up at this spot with the thought that some of the players may eventually move to the offensive line. We have one verbal from Fili Moala but unfortunately Fili will miss the majority of the season with an injury. A couple of local tackles high on the Orgeron wish list are Sedrick Ellis, Matthew Malele, Josh Tauanu'u and Brandon Mebane while the uncertain qualifying status of Manuel Wright has allowed for a continued look at Raymond Tago. Alex Morrow and Matt Spanos are two of the players who could also play OL, Spanos in particular is known to be leaning toward the Trojans. We need to add at least one more big body in the middle for this class. On the outside we have a legitimate shot at Lawrence Jackson although this one could take a while as Lawrence enjoys the recruiting process. Junior Lemau'u has been called the DE with the most potential from LB Poly since Willie McGinest. There are also a trio of players being recuited at SLB including Rob Lewis, Lamarr Woodley and Shawn Crable who could all conceivably grow into defensive ends at some point. Woodley has included USC among his leaders with Michigan and MI ST from the start of the process and USC has a real shot here while Victor Abiamiri is another out of state star but he is considered more of a longshot.
A major position of need that received a real boost this week when Drean Rucker announced that he would be a Trojan. Drean is a hard nosed, physical player with speed who will fit in perfectly in the middle of the Pete Carroll defense. Lance Broadus will also continue to get a look in the middle with concerns lingering about his ability to qualify. Rob Lewis has caused concern among Trojan fans with some talk of taking a look at his one-time dream school Stanford but at this point Rob is fairly solid on USC and has built a good rapport with the program by spending a lot of time around the team. Thomas Williams is a major talent who can play either in the middle or outside while Michael Okwo is suited well for the WLB position. Okwo has a good relationship with USC coach Nick Holt but his college choice will be heavily influenced by his parents who currently favor Stanford. H.B. Blades is an interesting recruit who has the intangibles and football instincts and he recently said that USC is where he sees himself playing at this point. Salo Faraimo is a two-way star from Vista who is similar in style to Troy Polamalu while Jonathan Turner is a former youth boxing champion who could play either MLB or DE and he is leaning to the Trojans. A couple junior college players could fit into the mix with Marvin Simmons attempting to return to USC and play next season with his brother Melvin as well as Chauncey Clark from CCSF.
Pete Carroll gave scholarships to Brandon and Ryan Ting as corners even though neither brother had really played the position before. The twins are showing their athleticism this fall, however, by putting up huge numbers on both sides of the ball. The coaches would love to bring in at least one if not two more corners in this class and a pair of teammates from Ohio are coming for a visit in Donte Whitner and Darius Hiley. It's probably a longshot to get these players out of the Midwest but you never know what may happen on a visit. Desmond Reed is a playmaker who fits the mold that Carroll likes and is a player who has long favored USC. Desmond has starred on offense, defense and special teams this season. Damon Jenkins from DeLaSalle has all the skills you need but qualifying is a concern. Lorenzo Sims and Eric Wright are other players who could enter the mix as could big-time junior college star Chijoke Onyenegcha from CCSF. There were conflicting stories last week after a local paper reported that Donte Nicholson had committed to USC but Donte later said that wasn't the case. What we do know is that Nicholson is a physical hitter who would fit well at safety for Carroll but we will have to fight Oklahoma and Washington. Terrell Thomas can play either corner or safety and Terrell has the Trojans as his big leader at this point. LeRue Rumph is a big hitter from Florida who will visit USC for the Notre Dame game. Zack Bowman is a rare Division 1 recruit from Alaska. Two players committed to other programs will continue to get attention; the Trojans recently offered a scholarship to Dennis Keyes (UCLA verbal) while longtime USC fan A.J. Tuitele recently attended a Trojan practice.
The Trojans would like to add a kicker in this class and are looking for the right guy but so far they have yet to offer any scholarships. Sergio Aguayo is getting a long look.