A Look at USC's Linebacker Class

While most of the discussion from the media on Signing Day centered on Vontaze Burfict and Manti Te'o, the two talented linebackers that didn't sign with USC. The Trojans landed quite an impressive group in Jarvis Jones, Frankie Telfort and Marquis Simmons.

While most of the discussion from the media on Signing Day centered on Vontaze Burfict and Manti Te'o, the two talented linebackers that didn't sign with USC. The Trojans landed quite an impressive group in Jarvis Jones, Frankie Telfort and Marquis Simmons.

"We were surprised when we were able to get Frankie (Telfort) and Jarvis (Jones), and so those guys boosted us back up when a couple of other guys go the other way," Carroll said.

The loss of Vontaze Burfict was expected on Signing Day, as word of his departure leaked days before his final announcement, but the surprise of the day came when Punahou linebacker Manti Te'o, a player many experts predicted would be a Trojan, chose the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

"It was part of his choices all along. He visited there (Notre Dame) early and had a great visit," Carroll said when asked about Te'o's decision. "He's a great player and we battled all the way to the end. He had his heart set on going there (Notre Dame)."

Missing out on middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict is unquestionably a big blow for the Trojans, who didn't get a commitment from a middle linebacker, but the signing of Jarvis Jones helped soften the loss.

Scout rates Jones as the third best strong-side linebacker in the 2009 class, but Pete Carroll said the athletic linebacker from Georgia has the ability to play both inside and outside linebacker on the college level.

"If you see him in the film as an inside linebacker he was more spectacular there in our evaluation," Carroll said. "He can play everywhere."

At 6-3.5, 230 pounds Jones already has a college body and is a prospect that Pete Carroll singled out as being able to contribute as a freshman.

"He's a great blitzer and cover guy and we're ecstatic that we're able to get Jarvis," Carroll said, "We think he'll have a chance to play and contribute and compete for playing time immediately when he gets here."

Jones also has great speed and athleticism for a player his size and could contribute on the hardwood as well at USC.

"He's an all-around athlete. Explosive, dynamic, an excellent basketball player and might have a chance to play on the basketball team," Carroll said. "He's that dynamic."

Another out of state player that the Trojans were able to lure to Los Angeles was three-star linebacker Frankie Telfort from Gulliver Prep in Miami, Florida.

Pete Carroll was very excited by Telfort's potential at the weak-side linebacker position. Carroll said the undersized prospect is the fastest linebacker that they have recruited since he has been at USC.

"He's the first kid we've recruited from Miami," Carroll said. "He's very, very fast. He ran under 4.4 a couple of weeks ago at his workouts. He's so explosive and is such a feisty kid.

"He's way faster than anybody that we have ever had. We are hoping that attribute will really let him jump out and contribute."

One aspect that separates Telfort from other high school recruits is his understanding of the game, which is well beyond his years.

"He's got an enormous understanding of defensive football and adjustments that would knock you out," Carroll said. "Like way beyond anybody we've ever talked to about understanding how to make checks and audibles and how to change defenses.

"He talks like he's a junior or senior in college and maybe even more than that. We're thrilled about him. He's a guy that wants to be a doctor and go to med school."

Compton (Calif.) Dominguez linebacker Marquis Simmons was the first commitment in USC's 2009 class, and has been committed so long that he is often overlooked, but once he puts on the pads in fall camp everyone will remember just how talented he is.

Simmons comes from a long line of football players and will follow in the footsteps of his brother Melvin, who was a productive linebacker at USC.

"He's an obvious penetrator and a guy that blitzes very well," Carroll said. "He's an outside speed guy and runs sideline to sideline and a kid we've watched grow up in the program."

Along with his physical ability, Marquis plays the game with great passion and tenacity and many feel he could turn out to be the best linebacker in the Simmons Family.


Marquis Simmons brings great passion to the game.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at kevin@scplaybook.com


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