New quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates has to be feeling good about the opportunity to tutor Matt Barkley, the top quarterback recruit in the nation. Barkley is the crown jewel in the 2009 recruiting class and the type of player and person that every coach would love to have on the roster.
"Offensively, when you start off with the best player in the country at quarterback in Matt Barkley – and he's already here in school – that's an extraordinary boost to your class and a great starting point," Pete Carroll said.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound quarterback has all the tools to develop into a truly special signal-caller for the Trojans. Barkley has a strong arm, good accuracy and great leadership qualities that he has shown on the field as well as in the volunteer work he has done in his community.
Barkley is already taking classes at USC, after graduating a semester early from Mater Dei. The five-star quarterback has been working out with Coach Carlisle and the strength and conditioning staff, hoping to gain more strength and mobility for the upcoming quarterback competition that will heat up when spring practices start on March. 28th.
"Matt's going to get a great look to see where he fits in," Carroll said. "It's always my job to give the guys a good competitive opportunity. It doesn't do a guy any good to sit back and watch around here."
A four-year starter at Mater Dei, Barkley is the most polished quarterback coming out of high school this year, but he is going to have to put on a remarkable performance in spring practice and fall camp to leap over Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain, who each have two years of experience in the system.
USC assistant coach Ken Norton Jr. found a hidden gem in Simione Vehikite while recruiting in Hawaii. Vehikite played multiple positions in high school, but will play fullback when he arrives at USC this Fall.
"Simione Vehikite is the first time in a while where we've hit a fullback. We're thrilled about getting that done," Carroll said. "We've had a hard time finding guys that fit the bill, but Simi is one of those guys."
The 6-foot-1, 243-pound fullback has the ideal combination of speed, power and blocking ability to be a true lead blocker in USC's offensive scheme. With the addition of the three-star recruit, the Trojans now have four highly skilled players at the position with Stanley Havili, D.J. Shoemate, Adam Goodman and Simione Vehikite.
Vehikite will also get the opportunity to contribute on special teams.
With Stafon Johnson, C.J. Gable, Joe McKnight, Marc Tyler and Curtis McNeal already on the roster the running back position wasn't a priority for the 2009 class. The Trojans didn't secure the commitment from a single tailback in 2009, but if depth became an issue the multi-talented Patrick Hall could certainly move to the offensive side of the ball and show off his skills as a running back.
In 2010, the state of California has a very impressive group of tailbacks that include two USC verbal commits D.J. Morgan and Dillon Baxter. Along with the USC duo are Loyola running back Anthony Barr and Oaks Christian's Malcolm Jones, who is the younger brother of USC defensive back Marshall Jones.
Another player that has already shown real interest in USC is Lache Seastrunk from Temple, Texas.
After landing an outstanding offensive line class in 2008 that featured Tyron Smith, Matt Kalil, Khaled Holmes and Matt Meyer, the Trojans followed it up by signing two of the top offensive linemen in the West in Kevin Graf and John Martinez.
Offensive tackle Kevin Graf was the top lineman on the west coast and has everything that you looking for in a tackle. The 6-foot-6, 315-pound lineman has the size, quickness and intelligence needed to be a play tackle on the college level.
Graf is one of the more polished offensive linemen in the 2009 class, having learned from his father and brother, who both played at USC.
"His brother (Derek) played here his dad (Allan) played here, offensive linemen from the day they were born," Carroll said. "He's one of the most complete players that we've had at the offensive line at this early age and a great deal of credit goes to his coaches of course, but also from the upbringing from his family and the camps, he's really well equipped and can vie for the best kid at his position with anyone in the country."
Graf will provide some depth at the offensive tackle spot next year while waiting for his opportunity for significant playing time in the near future.
The Trojans also secured the commitment of Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood offensive lineman John Martinez.
Martinez is Scout.com's top-rated center recruit in country. The 6-foot-3, 275-pound lineman showed great quickness and athleticism at USC's Rising Stars Camp and plays with great tenacity.
"He grabbed our attention early on because he's an extraordinary effort guy," Carroll said. "He played very much like Jeff Byers did when he captured our attention long ago in that he finishes and runs down field and makes hits and shows great versatility to play all the positions on the line."
Martinez will provide depth behind Kris O'Dowd at center for the next two seasons, and have time to learn the position and gain more strength and size. When O'Dowd graduates, look for Martinez to step in as the starting center.
Even though the Trojans only started recruiting Charles recently they are very much in the mix and will be the last school that he visits.
"I'm really excited about that visit," Orson Charles told Scout.com. "I haven't been to L.A. or California so I'm excited about that too."
Adding Charles would be a big boost for the Trojans.
The Trojans are only bringing in one wide receiver in the current class, but they are getting quite the playmaker in Devon Flournoy.
The four-star receiver from Van Nuys (Calif.) Birmingham High School has great speed and is dangerous with the ball in his hands. Flournoy could contribute in the return game as well as at wide receiver.
"Flournoy is an extraordinary dynamic receiver. He's a big-play guy with great speed," Carroll said. "Makes all kind of plays and is a terrific kick returner as well.
"We want him as a wide receiver in the Z spot and we're really pumped about him. He's a track guy and very fast. He's explosive on the field and on film. I really love the way he plays."
The speedy receiver is still a bit raw and will benefit greatly from the coaching that he will get at USC.
Mt. San Antonio all-purpose kicker Jacob Harfman is a player that could come in and have an immediate impact in 2009. Harfman will have the opportunity to compete for the starting placekicker and punter duties for the Trojans.
"Any time you have a chance to get a kicker and a punter combined, it's an enormous advantage for us," Carroll said. "Jake Harfman is that guy. He comes from Mt. Sac and will definitely be able to compete on kickoffs, placekicks and punting. What we do know is that Jake has an enormous leg and as we've grown accustomed to David Buehler and the big booming kicks, Jake does all of that."
Harfman was recently named a JC Grid-Wire All-American as a place kicker after connecting on 20-of-26 field goal attempts in 2008, including a long of 56 yards and recorded 27 touchbacks.
Kevin Graf has all the tools to be a successful tackle on the college level.
If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at firstname.lastname@example.org