As the old saying goes, ``If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’’
That appears to be a policy adopted by UCLA football coach Rick Neuheisel and other members of the Pacific-10 Conference.
Pete Carroll’s recruiting formula for USC has brought the Trojans unprecedented success – pick off three to five outstanding prospects from around the country every recruiting season and meld them with the usual crop of outstanding Californians.
This has yielded seven consecutive Pac-10 Conference championships, seven successive Bowl Championship Series appearances and two national titles.
Need we add that since a 6-6 record in his first year with the Trojans, Carroll has registered 78 victories and nine defeats, and, in only one season since 2002 have his teams lost more than one game?
He had seven players taken in the first two rounds of the 2008 National Football League draft, four in the first round, and every senior starter, including his placekicker, was selected in the 2009 pro draft.
Say what you will about Neuheisel – and plenty already has been said – he’s smart enough to recognize a winning formula. He apparently decided after cracking the Top 20 in the 2009 recruiting derby that he was ready for the big show. He began making scholarship offers hither and yon, to top prospects all around the U.S., at the same time ignoring many of the better prospects in Southern California.
So far, the plan has succeeded only in ticking off several local prospects and gathering moss out of state.
As of this date, Neuheisel has only one player committed to the Bruins, defensive tackle Julius Moore. He’s from out of state – Bellevue, Wash., to be exact, but is not considered a highly rated prospect.
The Pac-10 coach making noise out of state is Jim Harbaugh of Stanford, who leads the conference in early commitments with 16, including 14 from outside California. His commitment crop represents 12 states, including California.
What’s unique about the Stanford situation is the method employed by Harbaugh. He has made dozens of offers and, if all were to commit, he’d be in a fix, since schools are permitted to bring in only 25 new scholarship players a year.
But Harbaugh has Stanford’s high academic standards to fall back upon. He can, mostly with legitimate reason, tell a prospect he doesn’t think that the kid can quite qualify academically, and withdraw the scholarship offer. If USC and other Pac-10 schools were to withdraw scholarship offers because someone better has come along, there would be great heat. But, in Stanford’s situation, the Cardinal can get away with it.
Cal has only six commitments, but four are from out of state. If you’re wondering how ex-USC assistant Steve Sarkisian is doing in his new position as head coach at Washington, the answer is not bad, not good. He has ten commitments, including three above-average prospects, but he also lost the state’s leading quarterback, Jake Heaps, to Brigham Young. Not a way to begin a regime but Sarkisian did secure the commitment of Nick Montana.
Running down the rest of the league, USC has eight commitments, including five-star tight end Xavier Grimble from Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas.
Commitments at other Pac-10 schools: Washington State, four; Oregon, three; Arizona, three; Arizona State, two; Oregon State, one.
Notre Dame, which had a monster class two years ago, is hobbling along at five commitments, including a top prospect, defensive tackle Chris Martin, of Princeton, N.J.
Fighting Irish coach Charlie Weis no longer can blame everything on his predecessor, Ty Willingham. He’s now coaching his people.
SAGUARO’S GOT TALENT
Last year USC recruited Corey Adams from Saguaro High in Scottsdale and weren’t successful in convincing him to leave home, so he signed with Arizona State. This year the Trojans are heavily recruiting OL Kody Innes from the 2010 class and OL/DLCyrus Hobbi from the 2011 class. Saguaro head coach John Sanders told us both kids will attend the Rising Stars Camp.
“Cyrus will play on both sides for us, but he will more than likely play on offense at the next level,” said Sanders. “He will be one of the top offensive linemen in the country next year. He can run, he’s tough and he ‘s smart.”
Saguaro will send four prospects to the Rising Stars Camp, with Innes (6-4, 280), Hobbi, 2011 RB Danny Clark, and 2011 DB Brock Haman all planning on attending.
“Brock is a strong safety for us, but he’s only going to be a junior and I project him as a D-1 linebacker,” said Sanders. “He’s about 6-3 and 220 pounds and looks the part. He ran a 4.6 forty as a sophomore. We also have a kid who is going to be a junior and plays running back for us, Danny Clark. Danny is a great kid.”
So, Saguaro will be well represented at USC on June 24-25.
AMBLES IS OUT
Despite Atlanta WR Markeith Ambles visit to USC last week and his attempt to meet with the coaches, USC is no longer recruiting Ambles. That ship has sailed. And we didn’t ask why, either.
ELITE 2011 TX LINEBACKER EYES USC
The legend of Ken Norton Jr. continues to grow as linebacker prospect after linebacker prospect from across the nation have taken notice of the NFL pipeline the USC assistant has built at the linebacker position. The latest elite linebacker to rave about the Trojans is 2011 Dallas (TX) Skyline HS middle linebacker Anthony Wallace.
Wallace already has verbal offers from Kansas, LSU, Oklahoma and Texas A&M but admitted in a recent interview with Scout.com that the offer he wants is from the USC Trojans.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound backer said of USC, “It’s a perfect linebacker school. I feel that I can fit in and push myself with all the competition and I feel that I can be the best that I can be at USC.”
Wallace stated that an offer from USC could end the recruiting process early, but remember we heard the same thing from Delvin Jones, so we will just have to wait and see on this one.
MORE FROM ARIZONA
USC desperately needs to bring at least four offensive linemen in the 2010 class and one of the prospects the Trojans are looking at is another Arizona prospect, Nick Rowland from Centennial High. Also, USC is very high on 2011 OL Christian Westerman from Hamilton High in Chandler, AZ. Both will attend the Rising Stars Camp, as will DB Marquis Flowers who is from Millenium High in Goodyear, AZ. Flowers already has an offer from the Trojans.
STILLS STANDS OUT
WR Kenny Stills from La Costa Canyon High in San Diego ran the fastest forty at the L.A. Scout.com Combine with a time of 4.36. It didn’t take long for word to get around to college coaches and Stills was offered by Florida. He already had an offer from USC, which is rare these days. The Trojans have been extremely careful with their offers.
Stills, who said he basically has a top 10 list of schools he’s considering, said he will narrow that list down after summer camps and unofficial visits. A few schools he’s seriously considering taking official visits to are Florida, Oklahoma, Tennessee and hopes to get offers from Notre Dame, and Texas.
Of the West Coast schools, USC and California seem to be at the top of his list and Stills said, “If I stay out West, Cal is going to give SC a run for their money. I took a trip to Cal and loved it there….loved the facilities. I felt very comfortable at Cal and the coaches seem like they really want me.”
NOT YOUR AVERAGE PUNTER
It’s no secret that punters and kickers are usually the least athletic players that you will find on a college football roster, but the Trojans’ special teamers are doing their part to change that perception.
It all started with David Buehler’s outstanding performance at the NFL Combine earlier this year, and USC’s newest commit, Matt Darr, did his part by winning the state championship in both the shot put and discus this past weekend.
“David Buehler is what I look up to, and the way that he was able to go through his career being an athletic, strong fast kicker,” Darr said. “Who says the kickers have to be the worst athletes on the field?”
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound punter certainly won over one of his future teammates during the state track finals.
“Kevin Graf and I were talking the whole time during the shot put and he was telling that there was no way that he could get beat by a punter. He’s an offensive lineman that’s 6-foot-6, 310 pounds and getting beat by the punter,” Darr joked. “That was fun for us future teammates.”
- Kevin Carden contributed to The Insider Report.