What We Learned: Rising Stars Edition

We learned that nobody runs a camp quite like Pete Carroll. What Carroll understands which some coaches just don't get, is that the recruits are evaluating the coaches, at the same time that the coaches are evaluating the recruits. Look inside to see what we learned from the star-studded camp.

We learned that nobody runs a camp quite like Pete Carroll. What Carroll understands which some coaches just don't get, is that the recruits are evaluating the coaches, at the same time that the coaches are evaluating the recruits. After watching the way that Carroll and his coaches fly around the practice field and interact with the young prospects, it's no surprise why the Trojans ink top recruiting class after top recruiting class.

We learned that Dillon Baxter might have a brighter future at wide receiver than running back when he arrives at USC. The silky smooth standout from Mission Bay High School runs solid routes, gets great separation out of his breaks and has very good hands. Baxter was our pick for the top player in the wide receiver group during one-on-ones and seemed to get open without ever breaking a sweat.

We learned that the versatile Dietrich Riley is one of the top all-around players in the 2010 recruiting class. Riley, much like Baxter, is one of those rare players that could be a star at several different positions on the field. The four-star recruit is a very impressive running back, but after watching him this offseason, he has all the skills to be a very special player on the defensive side of the ball. Riley is an extremely important prospect for USC and was one of the kids Coach Carroll called into his office after the camp.

We learned that the collection of defensive line talent on hand at the Rising Stars Camp was as good as you will see at any camp in the country. At one point, the first team defensive line consisted of Ronald Powell, Ricky Heimuli, George Uko and Jackson Jeffcoat, all Scout Top 100 players. When Josh Shirley isn't working with the first unit, you know there are some serious players on the field. Mix in Antwaun Woods, Jalen Grimble, Dakota Smith, Greg Townsend and you have quite the intimidating group. Needless to say, Jesse Scroggins and the quarterbacks were feeling the pressure during the 11-on-11 drills all day.

We learned that the Trojans are going to have to get creative with their 2010 offensive line class. This is a down year for offensive linemen in the state of California and no local lineman earned a scholarship offer after the Rising Stars Camp. The top lineman this week was 2011 tackle Christian Westerman from Hamilton High School, followed by Nick Rowland, another standout from Arizona. We also learned USC is in very good shape to land Westerman in 2011.

We learned that Don Lugo defensive tackle George Uko is the top interior lineman on the West Coast and could be getting a fifth star soon. Uko was the most productive defensive lineman that we have seen this offseason and he continued to impress with a dominant performance on the first day of the Rising Stars Camp, walking away with an offer from USC.

We learned that the Trojans are in good shape to bring in another versatile defensive back class in 2010. With players like Tony Jefferson, Dietrich Riley, Sean Parker, Dion Bailey, Joshua Shaw, Anthony Jefferson, Demetrius Wright and Anthony Brown all showing interest in USC, the only questions that remain are, which players will fill out the class and how many defensive backs will USC take this year.

We learned that Pat Ruel and Jethro Franklin may be the best two-man comedy team in Hollywood. While Ken Norton Jr., and Todd McNair usually supply the laughs at practices, Ruel and Franklin have taken over the throne as the kings of the camp circuit. The only thing more entertaining than the one-on-one battles between the big boys in the trenches was the interaction between Ruel and Franklin. Everything from Ruel's up-downs, to Franklin's chest bumps with Antwaun Woods, received rave reviews from players and parents alike.

We learned that Jesse Scroggins performed well enough to get the coveted USC QB offer. The Lakewood quarterback appeared to be pressing early in the camp but eased into his role and showed better than expected mobility, a good arm and excellent accuracy. If Scroggins ends up committing somewhere else look for USC to pursue Tyler Bray and Chase Rettig at quarterback. We believe both would jump on an offer from USC.

We learned that Ronald Powell is an absolute freak…but to be honest we all already knew that. The Rancho Verde athlete showed his versatility by playing defensive end, middle linebacker and tight end at the Rising Stars Camp and is one the top prospect on USC's wish list. While Powell would have liked to spend more time with Jethro Franklin at the camp, USC did a great job with him, and Powell really enjoyed working out at linebacker, and tight end. Powell and Rancho Verde defensive line coach, Jo Carmona, met with Coach Carroll, Ken Norton, Rocky Seto, Jethro Franklin and Brennan Carroll for 30 minutes after the camp, and told Powell they want to, and will get him on the field right away to help contribute to USC winning football games.

We learned that four 2011 linemen caught the eye of the USC coaching staff at the Rising Stars Camp. Offensive tackle Christian Westerman really stood out on the offensive side of the ball and went back home to Arizona with an offer. Defensive lineman Jalen Grimble also earned an offer, while Antwaun Woods and Greg Townsend could be next in line.

- Scott Schrader contributed to this column.


Justin Maclin, Ronald Powell and Josh Shirley were an intimidating LB unit.


USCFootball.com Top Stories