Wednesday Practice: Perry Settling In

Freshman defensive end Nick Perry was one of the crown jewels of USC's 2008 recruiting class, which was ranked ninth in the nation by Look inside for an update on Perry, and all the news, notes and quotes from Wednesday's practice.

Perry Settling In

Freshman defensive end Nick Perry was one of the crown jewels of USC's 2008 recruiting class, which was ranked ninth in the nation by

Coming out of King high school in Detroit (MI), Perry was the fifth-ranked defensive end prospect in the 2008 recruiting class and considered by many as a player that could have an immediate impact for the Trojans in 2008.

Perry's chances of being an impact freshman quickly faded when he experienced complications while trying to gain academic clearance from the NCAA, which forced him to miss fall camp and enroll late.

The talented freshman didn't arrive on campus and begin practicing with the Trojans until the fourth week of the season, and has been playing catch-up ever since.

"I think coming in late was a big transition for me, but after coming out here and being able to workout I just continue to get better everyday," said Perry, who will redshirt.

Without anytime to get acclimated to the college game, Perry said the biggest challenge has been keeping up with USC's intense practice schedule.

"The fast pace of practice and just having to work harder," Perry replied when asked about the toughest aspect of playing college football. "You can't slack off on plays; you have to go hard on every play. I think I am progressing very well."

While his freshman year certainly hasn't played out the way he envisioned it would, Perry said he is thrilled to be a Trojan, and is working hard in practice everyday with the goal of contributing in 2009.

"I just have to learn the plays and get familiar with everything that is going on around me," said Perry, who credits Kyle Moore with helping him learn the defensive scheme. "Everything will work out for me come next year."

"Coming into my senior year in high school I knew I was going to be the best, and now I am just trying to be the best in college."

With Trojans currently in the middle of a bye week, Perry is one of the younger players that Pete Carroll has singled out to get extra work with the first-team defense during practice.

"This isn't just about this week," Carroll said. "This is about the future."

Maualuga Named Nargurski Award Finalist

USC middle linebacker Rey Maualuga was named one of the five finalist for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy. The Nagurski Trophy is awarded annually to the top defensive player in college football.

The five finalists include USC linebacker Rey Maualuga, TCU defensive end Jerry Hughes, Texas defensive end Brian Orakpo, Wake Forest cornerback Alphonso Smith and Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes.

Maualuga leads USC's vaunted defense with 66 tackles and has two interceptions on the season.

News and Notes

• Pete Carroll said he believed that Brian Cushing's future in the NFL will be as an inside linebacker, when asked about the versatile senior on Wednesday.

"I think they are going to wind up playing him inside for the most part, and he will love that. He already looks forward to that," Carroll said. "There is nothing to keep him back. He's fast enough, quick enough and strong enough. He's 255 pounds and a bright football player. I think he will be great."

• The bye week allows the coaching staff to hit the recruiting trail hard for the first week of high school football playoffs. Pete Carroll and his staff plan to try to have each coach catch two games on Friday night.

"We are scattering all over the area to see as many games as we can," Carroll said. ‘Everybody will be scrambling to try and get to two games. It's a big weekend for us, this late in the year.

"We are pinpointing a number of games to see young guys for next year's recruiting class."

• Safety Kevin Ellison was at practice today but didn't participate in any drills. Pete Carroll said Ellison will use the bye week to do rehab and rest his injured knee.

"He gets these days plus the weekend," Carroll said. "We will probably see what he can do on Tuesday."

• Tailback Allen Bradford said he will have surgery on his injured hip this Friday.

• Tight end Blake Ayles practiced at full-speed for the entire practice on Wednesday.

• Pete Carroll has done nearly everything to try and limit the Trojans penalty problems this season. On Wednesday, he took another step to try and help the problem by making players run laps every time they committed a penalty in practice.

Rey Maualuga was named a Bronko Nagurski Award finalist. (Paul Pinner Photo)

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at Top Stories