The Trailblazer

It's no secret that Ed Orgeron is one of the premier recruiters in all of college football. In his first stint in Los Angeles, Orgeron and former USC head coach Pete Carroll set the foundation for one of the most successful runs in college football history with their tireless efforts on the recruiting trail. Can he do it again?

It's no secret that Ed Orgeron is one of the premier recruiters in all of college football.

The high-energy assistant, whose raspy voice matches his coaching style, has attracted top level recruits to every school he has coached at, but as Trojan fans observed in the past, he is a nearly perfect fit at USC.

"The day that I left here I wanted to come back here, to be honest," Orgeron said. "USC is a great place and I love my position here. The chance to coach for the Trojans is just wonderful and I respect everyday that I get to coach."

In his first stint in Los Angeles, Orgeron and former USC head coach Pete Carroll set the foundation for one of the most successful runs in college football history with their tireless efforts on the recruiting trail.

With Carroll's seemingly endless energy, charismatic personality, and competitive fire and Orgeron's intensity, work ethic and love of recruiting, the Trojans' duo went into living rooms across the country and convinced recruits to come west.

Out of state recruits like Mike Williams, Dominique Byrd, Lendale White, Keith Rivers, Dwayne Jarrett, Fred Davis and Jeff Byers all emerged as key figures of the Carroll era, and contributed greatly during a magical run that saw the Trojans participate in seven straight BCS bowls.

As Orgeron explains, a private school education, plenty of football tradition and the sunny Southern California weather made their vision for the future a little easier for recruits to see.

"A lot of places have a couple of things that are really strong and obviously that is what you go after, but over here there are hardly any weaknesses," he said. "Especially with the private school education and football tradition, I don't think any school in the country can match USC."

While recruits from across the country came to Hollywood looking to become stars, it was Orgeron's philosophy of locking up the top local talent that really elevated the Trojans to the top of the Pac-10 - and eventually the entire nation.

The approach sounds simple enough, build a fence around Southern California and keep all of the top homegrown prospects in state. But the execution was only made possible because of the determination of Carroll, Orgeron and the entire coaching staff.

Securing the commitment of defensive lineman Shaun Cody, who went on to become the Pac-10 Co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2004, displayed Orgeron's relentless recruiting ability and signaled that USC was ready to flex their recruiting muscle once again.

Following a 6-6 record in Carroll's first season at the helm, the Trojans quickly turned things around with an 11-2 season that was capped off with an Orange Bowl victory over Iowa. And once the ball started rolling there was no stopping the Men of Troy, and their amazing recruiting machine.

Top recruiting classes developed into dominant teams, and suddenly the Trojans were winning national championships, Heisman trophies and boasting a 34-game winning streak.

With the Trojans success on the field came head coaching opportunities, and Orgeron left USC to become the head man at Ole Miss in 2005, where he had a 10-25 record over three seasons before being fired.

After spending the past two seasons as an assistant for the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Volunteers, Orgeron was thrilled to receive a phone call from Lane Kiffin letting him know that they were headed back to Los Angeles.

"They could call me to come to USC at midnight and I would be here at midnight-01," he said. "I don't care. There is no bad time to come to USC."

With the departure of Carroll there are a few holes in the fence, but the return of Orgeron has USC fans optimistic, and rivals worried that the Trojans will remain one of the dominant recruiting forces in college football.

"We have to start building that fence again," Orgeron said with a big grin.


Ed Orgeron is ready to build a fence around Southern California.


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


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