USCHerd, a USC fan site celebrating the USC Fan.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

The Herd on...Recruiting...

The Dawn of Trojan Genesis
by Mojack

Since February 7, 2007, is national signing day for college football programs, the USCHerd blog thought we'd do something different, so we're bringing you our version of a recruiting article. (photo left: B. Green and Pete taken by SCKid) Another recruiting article on the biggest recruiting day of the year, oh yeah that's different. Well, maybe we're not thinking out of the box exactly, but how many other articles will Trojan fans read tomorrow which quote Mean Farmer or BriMo? Scott Wolf won't have that scoop, baby.

So as Pete Carroll and his coaching staff and some diehard recruiting denizens of the boards ready themselves for a night without sleep, (photo right: Everson Griffen) here's a brief update of the Trojans recruiting season so far: Martin Coleman, the 4 star offensive lineman, from Huntington Beach is already in school. Studs Jordan Campbell, linebacker from Norco, and Chris Galippo, linebacker from Anaheim, are already out hitting the pavement trying to convince other high school All-Americans and four & five-star prospects to join the Trojan family. Legacy Malcolm Smith is coming. A Bruin kid, Marc Tyler, will make his father hum "Conquest" a few hundred times in the next few years. Ronald Johnson, aka RoJo, is coming to So. Cal from Michigan. Trey Henderson is moving down from British Columbia, and Everson Griffen and Kris O'Dowd are leaving the desert of Arizona to come to the desert of Los Angeles. (photo left: Aaron Corp) Plus, Aaron Corp will show up on Howard Jones field and the debates will start once Mark Sanchez throws a bad pass, "Sanchez or Corp, Corp or Sanchez." And these are only some of the kids we've gotten verbals from. Tomorrow they fax in their letters of intent, and they become part of the Trojan family for eternity (well, unless they have a secret yearning to play for UNLV or Northern Iowa in their subconscious).

Yet to be discerned is who will fill out the class. Will it be this year's Reggie Bush? Joe McKnight from Louisiana? Can he leave LSU country to become a Trojan? Will Broderick Green keep his commitment? What about Deonte Thompson? Will he make the Mike Williams leap from Florida to USC? And will there be a complete surprise, like legacy Rhett Ellison decommitting from Virginia Tech to come to USC? Will the Doctor's project, offensive lineman Skyler Fancher, find himself a scholarship to USC? These are the questions that will be answered on February 7, 2007. No, we're not going to find the answers to the world's problems tomorrow, but for diehard Trojan fans, we will be introduced to the players who will dominate our Trojan thoughts and our Trojan conversations over the next three, four and five years. It's a huge day to some people. Bryan Springer wrote, "I love recruiting so much, that I took Signing Day off as a vacation day. Plus it is my birthday. It's like a holiday in itself to me."

I asked a few Herders in email about their feelings on recruiting. I received varied responses such as this anonymous rant, "I think people follow and live by it way too closely" to TroBob's feelings, "recruiting is always interesting to me. I used to write out the entire roster and then try to fill in the holes with potential recruits, filling in needs as they arose. Now I have fun with it, but I don't let it consume me as much as I did. SC is in good recruiting hands with Pete Carroll."

Brooks appeared to have the most rational answer, "I can't help be aware of some of the high profile recruits because of reading the Herd board. I realize that, next to coaching the players, this is the most important thing that happens in the college football process. (photo left: Malcolm Smith) The reason I don't follow it as much as some is because there are so many players who go elsewhere and I just don't care about them. When they come through that tunnel in the Cardinal and Gold uniforms then I follow them." BriMo agreed with Brooks, "I try to pay more attention to recruiting when signing day approaches. I don't like to get caught up in the hype real early because the kids change their minds fairly often." And mpron commented about the ugly side of recruiting, "I find it funny how we, as fans, can love these 17 year olds to death until they spurn us for another university and then all of a sudden, it's like they have the clap (a sexually transmitted disease)."

Another anonymous Herder didn't have a take on STDs, but is a recruitnik, "I follow recruiting very closely. I have a source, doesn't everybody, that has been close to the USC program for over 50 years. This person will know when PC goes to the restroom. I talk to him only when I absolutely want to know something, but he will touch bases with me at will. BTW there is still a recruit coming that is considered a surprise."

Mean Farmer might know a Guernsey from a Holstein, but he hasn't caught the recruiting bug, "Since I'm far away, I don't hear much about recruiting, except what I read on The Herd board. My views are pretty much old fashioned in that I think USC should concentrate on locking up all the best talent from in-state, and within the conference. There's plenty of talent out there and it seems that getting faraway recruits is a hard sell, unless you're lucky enough to come up with someone like Brian Cushing." But does Mean Farmer know it's Bryan Springer's birthday tomorrow? Of course he does. We all

Speaking of Bryan, these are his thoughts on recruiting, "I have followed recruiting since I was a kid. I used to get my mom to buy a Student Sports Magazine for any info. My brother Bob would also find information through magazines. Then after awhile THE COACH on XTRA 690 used to have his weekly Friday night 9-11 recruiting show and I would listen to that. Bob and I also subscribed to THE USC REPORT and would read the recruiting sections each month offseason and weekly in season from Loel Schraeder. That was until the invention of the internet. I found the SC sites about 1998 and the recruiting game has grown even more intensely over the last few years."

The Springer brothers are diehards. TroBob continued their story, "I followed recruiting a little bit as early as 1970-71 when SC was in the process of recruiting the great 1972-74 class of Trojans. I remember the recruitment of Haden and McKay thinking that SC was going to throw the ball a lot more than it had in the past. Allen Carter was the main target as a tailback instead of Anthony Davis, or so most of us thought. I did not give recruiting nearly as much thought as I have since the return of John Robinson in the '90s. Being from Riverside, I remember the recruitment of Ryan Knight and thinking here comes the next great USC tailback in the '80s. (photo right: TroBob with the Molina Clan) I was at the Coliseum in his freshman year when running behind Fred Crutcher as backup tailback, he gained 100 yards for the first time in a game against Cal. I remember getting Junior Seau and having to wait for him as a Prop 48 recruit. Todd Marinovich was another recruiting struggle I remember. Missing out on Robert Smith, who wound up going to Ohio State, was a big disappointment for me."

"In 1999, Bryan moved in with Kim and I in Paso Robles and brought his computer with him. That was when I got my first password and started posting on TFO and Ryan's board. Shortly afterward, I started on Garry P's old site. I would sit in the room with Bryan while Garry started his first chats and we would discuss everything. I remember that we were getting almost minute by minute reviews of the Teyo Johnson and Amon Gordon visit of Paul Hackett. What a screw up that visit was. Hackett was coming in the back door while Willingham was leaving out the front door the Friday night before LOI day."

TroBob continued, "My favorite story was when we were in chat one night with Garry and he was telling us that he was going to have to change the name of his site because it was violating SCs copyright privileges and he asked all of us in chat for ideas. Bryan is the guy who came up with and Garry absolutely loved it. Garry sent him an autographed football with John Jackson's and Craig Fertig's autograph."

(That is a bit of history that I didn't know until I read that quote myself. Bryan Springer with the call. Another Herdmember involved in USC football history).

When the Herdmembers were asked if they had any favorite recruiting stories or anecdotes, again we received answers across the board. BriMo stated, "I was initially upset with DeSean Jackson's decision to attend Cal, but I think in the overall scheme of things, it's more beneficial to have athletes that seek the competitive environment rather than the a situation where playing time is guaranteed." TroBob had a personal experience, "I had a niece date a USC recruit in 2002 at Paso Robles High School. I knew SC was recruiting this lineman, but I didn't realize that my niece knew him until then. I was the first guy outside of immediate family to find out that Travis Draper committed to SC the weekend before the Labor Day game and Auburn-HERDfest in 2002. I broke that story. I felt like a great uncle." One of the anonymous Herders threw a curveball with his answer to that question, "Norm Chow leaving is and will be the most confusing/interesting person that will leave the PC program. Privately PC has stated he probably would have won two more NC's if Chow were still here." Hmmmm. A very, very interesting point, though how that relates to my recruiting topic and adding Trojans to the fold I'm still trying to figure out. At least it wasn't another Mean Farmer mad cow story.

Bryan Springer brought us back on topic though, " The recruit I like this year the most is probably Chris Galippo, because he committed (photo right: Chris Galippo) early and wanted dearly to be a Trojan. Same with Jordan Campbell busting his butt to be a Trojan and now helping out the recruiting process. The one guy I will be very excited about is Joe McKnight if we get him." mpron also is a Joe McKnight fan and hope he comes.

I then asked the Herders, "hypothetically, if you were the recruiting coordinator at USC, what things would you have done differently, in the past or this year?" mpron quickly responded, "I might've taken a closer look at some of the 3 stars or so that had a burning desire to come to USC as opposed to courting a guy teetering on the wall trying to get the best deal. Maybe the 3 star might pan out with his heart and soul and shine as opposed to the 4 or 5 star that has an attitude or eventually leaves. Maybe he could be that locker room leader, the rah rah like Thomas Williams who will fire up the crowd and fire up the team." Bryan Springer's answer was similar, "I agree with the philosophy to always go for the best wherever they show interest, but I think we need to do a little better with our backup plans in case we don't a certain player. I think you can recruit kids your own backyard by being honest with them and tell them if another doesn't work out, you are the guy." In regards to California players and recruiting misses, Brooks was blunt, "I would've recruited Skyler Fancher."

It is a true fact, that Pete Carroll has had top ranked recruiting classes upon top ranked recruiting classes, and so who are we to second guess the moves of our coaches. As BriMo said very succinctly, "with top ranked classes coming in every year, it's hard to argue with success."

It is, isn't it. Fight on, tomorrow we bring you new Trojans. Fight on.

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