Men of Troy Have Football Recruits Lining Up

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), February 4, 2003 | Go to article overview

Men of Troy Have Football Recruits Lining Up


Byline: Bob Clark The Register-Guard

WEDNESDAY IS GOING TO be very enjoyable for USC, and not simply because the Trojans have UCLA coming to the Sports Arena.

The football recruits that USC will announce in about 24 hours should have everybody in Heritage Hall `popping corks to celebrate the best recruiting class since the Trojans won three national championships in the 1970s,' wrote Eric Sondheimer in the Los Angeles Times.

Every school in the Pac-10 and most of the best football schools in the country go to southern California for recruits. Guess what USC ended up with, despite that competition?

If commitments hold, the Trojans will get the top offensive lineman from the area along with the best running back, No. 1 tight end, leading linebacker, best defensive end and defensive tackle and probably the top receiver, who they fended off Florida State to keep.

`It's pretty scary,' recruiting expert Greg Biggins told the Times. `No one has been this dominant in the Pac-10 since I started doing this eight years ago. They're not recruiting, they're selecting.'

Two recruiting services have USC's class ranked as the nation's best. Another put the Trojans second.

The Trojans have always had a natural advantage on recruits, with their tradition and the number of prospects within a short drive of the USC campus, and now they've added success plus an obviously able coach and recruiter in Pete Carroll.

`Pete Carroll had the magic,' Santa Ana Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said. `It's a combination of personality and technique. It's like a flu bug. Everyone catches it.'

One that got away

Recruiting can be tricky. One man's prep all-American is sometimes a bench warmer in college, or he turns into a Bruin.

It can also turn out the other way, as it did with Craig Smith of Boston College. As a freshman, the 6-foot-7 Smith ranks 15th in the nation in scoring - second among freshmen - and leads the Big East in field-goal percentage.

And to think, probably any school in the Pac-10 could have had him as a senior at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles two years ago.

`A lot of guys on the West Coast have told me, `We missed one, coach,' ' Fairfax coach Harvey Kitani said.

Smith didn't have a qualifying score on a college entrance test as a senior and needed a year at a Boston prep school to become eligible to play. But still, about Smith's only offers as a high school senior were from Cal State-Fullerton and Oregon State, and the Beavers changed their mind.

`UCLA looked at me, I think I got one phone call,' Smith said. `Oregon State was my first scholarship offer. Then (former Beaver coach Ritchie McKay) took it back because he said I was pudgy. It was kind of devastating.'

Smith was around 270 pounds then, and his prep coach said `he had a lot of baby fat.'

He's playing at 260 now, and `I have way less body fat,' Smith said.

Still some regrets on the West Coast, though. Smith's mother works at the UCLA Medical Center, and `they tell her every day they wish I was there,' Smith said.

Blame the messenger

Well, as it turns out, there has been some disciplinary action taken at Arizona over Candygate.

UA coach Lute Olson has cut off media access to himself on Friday and will limit the time he and his players spend with reporters on Tuesdays, the only time they are available for interviews except after games. …

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