Pete Carroll was in a markedly better mood Wednesday than the last time he sat for a news conference in USC's Heritage Hall.
Gone was the agitation Carroll exhibited last month over quarterback Mark Sanchez's exit to the NFL. Carroll instead displayed his characteristic optimism as he reviewed the Trojans' 2009 recruiting class on the first day that high school and junior college players could sign national letters of intent.
It was nearly the end of a roller-coaster day in which the Trojans lost several players who had committed, fell short on a few others they had hoped to land, and gained several they were mildly surprised to have enticed.
"We never are ever going to be satisfied when we don't get everybody that we want," Carroll said.
"But we know that we had a great class and from top to bottom this is an extremely competitive bunch of guys."
USC announced the signing of 17 players, but the class is expected to grow as at least one more letter of intent arrives and the hunt for a few still-uncommitted high-profile players continues.
"It's never over," Carroll said, grinning.
By day's end, however, USC again had put together one of the nation's top classes. Rivals.com ranked it fourth, ESPN ranked it fourth and Scout.com ranked it seventh.
The Trojans got a major head start with the arrival in January of former Santa Ana Mater Dei High quarterback Matt Barkley, who will compete against Aaron Corp, Mitch Mustain and Garrett Green in spring practice to replace Sanchez.
Barkley, the top-rated player at his position in the nation, is one of only five offensive players in a class that includes 11 defensive players and a kicker.
Despite losing out to Notre Dame on linebacker Manti Te'o of Hawaii, USC demonstrated its national reach by attracting six players from outside California.
Linebackers Frankie Telfort (Florida) and Jarvis Jones (Georgia), defensive lineman Devon Kennard (Arizona), defensive back Torin Harris (Nevada), offensive lineman John Martinez (Utah) and fullback Simione Vehikite (Hawaii) signed Wednesday.
Safety Jawanza Starling (Florida) announced he would attend USC but did not fax a signed letter of intent.
The class is devoid of a tailback, but that could change as the Trojans continue to pursue Bryce Brown of Wichita, Kan., the nation's top-rated running back.
Brown, who has already graduated from high school, is scheduled to visit USC in the next few weeks.
Nabbing another marquee player would help lessen the blow of losing three players who had committed to the Trojans.
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict of Corona Centennial High signed with Arizona State. Receiver Alshon Jeffrey chose to play at home state South Carolina. And Los Angeles Cathedral's Randall Carroll, a receiver and defensive back, signed with UCLA.
The signing of Telfort and Jones eased some of the sting, but Pete Carroll was disappointed that Te'o chose Notre Dame over the Trojans.
USC's loss of its entire starting linebacker corps from last season, and the potential playing time that might have afforded, was not enough to entice Te'o, who visited USC last week and was also considering UCLA.
"He seemed real happy on his trip," said USC offensive lineman Abe Markowitz, who played with Te'o at Honolulu Punahou High. "It would have been a good fit for him. He likes our style and our aggressiveness, so I thought he would come here."
Byron Moore of Harbor City Narbonne, who originally committed to UCLA, then switched to the Trojans, then dropped USC and said he was considering Colorado and Notre Dame, was among four defensive backs to sign with USC.
Carroll said his staff focused on the position group because of the expected departures of safeties Taylor Mays, Will Harris and Josh Pinkard in 2010.
Pinkard, who sat out nearly all of the 2006 and 2007 seasons because of knee injuries, was invited to this month's NFL scouting combine, but the NCAA officially granted him a sixth year of eligibility this week, Carroll said.
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PLAYER; P; HT., WT.; HIGH SCHOOL HOMETOWN
Matt Barkley; QB;6-3, 220;Mater DeiNewport Beach
James Boyd; DE; 6-5, 230;Jordan Los Angeles
De'Von Flournoy; WR; 6-0, 180;Birmingham Studio City
Kevin Graf; OL; 6-6, 315;Agoura Agoura Hills
Kevin Greene; DE-LB; 6-3, 235;Sacred Heart Cathedral Prep; Oakland
Patrick Hall; DB; 6-1, 185;St. Bonaventure Oxnard
Torin Harris; DB; 6-1, 175;Palo Verde Las Vegas
Jarvis Jones; LB; 6-3, 225; Carver Columbus, Ga.
Devon Kennard; DE; 6-3, 255; Desert Vista Phoenix
John Martinez; OL; 6-3, 275; Cottonwood Murray, Utah
T.J. McDonald; DB; 6-2, 205;Edison Fresno
Byron Moore; DB; 6-1, 205;Narbonne Carson
Marquis Simmons; LB; 6-1, 225; Dominguez Compton
Frankie Telfort; LB-DB; 6-0, 205;Gulliver Prep Miami
Simione Vehikite; FB; 6-0, 245;Kapolei
PLAYER;PHT., WT.JUNIOR COLLEGEHOMETOWN
Hebron Fangupo; DT; 6-2, 330; Mt. San Antonio Santa Ana
Jacob Harfman; PK-P; 5-11, 200;Urbana (OH)/ Mt. San Antonio Chino