from WeAreSC newsletter -
Signing Day has been called Christmas Day for college football recruiting fans as they get to unwrap their new presents and find out just which players will be starring for their team in future years. For Trojan fans, we knew the day was going to be special with previous verbals from many of the top players in the state but we also got some bonus good news that morning with the announcement that All-American WR Whitney Lewis would be joining the class. All told there were 17 prep All-Americans among the 22 high school players signed by the Trojans with the strengths of the group being the running backs and both sides of the line. A position by position look at the recruiting class for 2003:
We took a run at Kyle Wright and Chris Leak, the consensus two best quarterbacks in the country, and came down to the final list of schools for both but in the end they signed elsewhere. The coaches will focus on bringing in at least one, if not two, quarterbacks for next season.
The Trojans signed 3 of the top 10 running backs in the country, enough said. You have to figure Reggie Bush is the back most prepared to come in and be the #2 guy behind Hershel Dennis but I don't think anybody would be shocked if either Chauncey Washington or LenDale White were to take that role either. Most people know that Bush is the real deal, primarily after seeing his performance in the Army All-Star game, but White and Washington are more unknown talents at this point because fans haven't seen them as much. These are good football players who can pound the football and Kennedy Pola is licking his chops right now at the prospect of having this group of tailbacks for the next several years. Jody Adewale will greyshirt and he is a better athlete than most people give him credit for, he could be a factor down the road at fullback.
It was supposed to be the year of the wide receiver in Southern California with the two jewels in the class being Steve Smith and Whitney Lewis. The Trojan coaches went hard after both of them despite glances being cast toward Knoxville and Tallahassee and it was vital for USC to land at least one of these big time players. To get both is a tremendous boost to the receiving corps at the disposal of Norm Chow. Smith is the smooth technician with good routes and fundamentals, a player who thrived in a passing offense and ended his career as the all-time leading receiver in the state of California. Lewis is the powerful athlete with amazing speed, a physical specimen who could have as much raw potential as any player in the country. Whitney was almost reeled down to Florida State thanks to a combination effort from Lorenzo and Bobby but in the end it was Lewis' mother who imposed her will for a decision she said "was about more than just football." Once Whitney signed with USC it removed any chance we had to get Andre Caldwell who then signed with Florida. The Trojans almost pulled off a signing day surprise with Mark Bradford who gave USC serious consideration before honoring an earlier verbal pledge to Stanford.
Chris Barrett will begin his USC career as a defensive end but he can play tight end if needed. Look for this to be a position of major need in recruiting next year.
An unbelievable group that filled our needs perfectly. The Trojans signed the top four high school lineman from California from their wish list and then added an insurance policy at tackle with an experienced junior college transfer. It's the type of group that will combine with last years class to give our offense the ability to expand the attack in future years because of their athleticism and talent. We got off to a solid start with verbals from Travis Draper and Ryan Kalil and both players are good athletes with a physical nature that seems to be the mold for Trojan OL recruits this year. The two highest rated OL in the state were tackle Drew Radovich and guard Sam Baker. Radovich has a frame that will develop quickly with a college training program and he is going to be a great one with his superior footspeed. Baker brings exactly the type pitbull attitude that you want in an offensive lineman, he and Fred Matua will get along well. At this point the only experienced reserve at the tackle spot is sitting on the sidelines as Eric Torres rehabs his injury suffered in the Orange Bowl so the coaches made the decision to add JC transfer John Drake, a 340 pound tackle who caught their attention early in the recruiting process.
For all of the hard work Ed Orgeron did as the recruiting coordinator for this staff it seems fitting that he should be rewarded with DL class that will give him depth and talent for years to come. Fili Moala was the first player in the class to verbal and he is huge man-child. He missed most of the year with injury and so we haven't heard as much about him but the big Tongan could be one of the major surprises in the middle of the line. Sedrick Ellis is a bull rusher who is relentless while Ryan Watson gives Orgeron a prime homegrown Louisiana project to work with. Watson is tall with a wide body and he chose USC over LSU in part because "I had to ask myself who is going to best prepare me for the rest of my life?". On the outside it's almost an embarrassment of riches with Lawrence Jackson, Chris Barrett, Alex Morrow, Jonathan Turner and Matt Spanos (there is a good chance Spanos could eventually end up on the OL). Jackson combines ideal size with the instincts of a good pass rusher and Barrett deserves the nickname "The Freak" which was bestowed upon him by classmates for his powerful physique. Chris has been known as much for his potential on offense so it will be interesting to see how fast he progresses while focusing solely on defense. Morrow has excellent size and Turner is a former youth boxing champ so you know that footwork and toughness are part of his skills.
The Trojans needed to get two linebackers in this class so they went out and got the top two guys in the state. Drean Rucker is a hard nosed and extremely physical player with size who will fit in perfectly in the middle of the Pete Carroll defense. Thomas Williams is a major talent who can play either in the middle and he also hits real hard. At this point it appears that Salo Faraimo will greyshirt and enroll next spring at WLB.
Pete Carroll gave scholarships to Brandon and Ryan Ting as corners even though neither brother had really played the position before. The twins showed their athleticism by putting up huge numbers on both sides of the ball and they are now enrolled and ready for spring ball. Another player we'll see in the spring is Darnell Bing and he has impressed USC personnel so far with his tremendous work ethic and attitude. After sitting out last fall it's safe to say that Bing is ready to hit the field and we'll see him at strong safety in the spring. Desmond Reed is a playmaker who could see time at WR (he was told not to assume he'll be at corner next year but that was before the verbals from Smith and Lewis). Either way he will be an impact player at some point on the field, including special teams. Eric Wright is another talented athlete who starred as a two-way player in high school and he was named MVP in the San Francisco area. Terrell Thomas can play either corner or safety and his long arms would seem to fit well at FS. With the possible move of Marcell Allmond to free safety and both Kevin Arbet and Ronald Nunn coming off injuries Carroll elected to use a scholarship for Will Poole, a Ventura College star corner who will have one year of eligibility with the Trojans.