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Open date gives USC coaches a chance to hit recruiting trail

USC FOOTBALL FYI

While some assistants go out of state, Coach Pete Carroll stays in town and runs into other Pac-10 coaches.

November 20, 2009|By Gary Klein
  • USC Coach Pete Carroll and his assistants will be on the recruiting trail this weekend.
USC Coach Pete Carroll and his assistants will be on the recruiting trail… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

USC, which doesn't play this week, will practice at sunrise today so coaches not already on the road recruiting can travel across the Southland and the country in search of talent.

Running backs coach Todd McNair left Thursday and two or three other assistants also will be out of state as USC seeks to replenish a roster in need of depth despite several top-five recruiting classes.

Coach Pete Carroll and several assistants will remain in Southern California.

On Thursday, before the Trojans practiced, Carroll crossed paths with Washington Coach Steve Sarkisian at a City Section playoff game between Los Angeles Jordan and Harbor City Narbonne.

Carroll and his staff probably will see a lot more of Sarkisian and Huskies assistants, who are flooding Southern California during their week off before the annual Apple Cup against Washington State.

Sarkisian, USC's former offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, said he would attend four games Thursday and three today.

Sarkisian and other Pacific 10 Conference coaches would like to break the Trojans' recruiting stranglehold in Southern California.

So Sarkisian is hitting the area hard.

"Obviously, we know a lot of people down here and have great connections," he said in a phone interview Thursday.

Sarkisian said this week that a "landmark" win such as the Huskies' 16-13 victory over the Trojans on Sept. 19 would serve Washington well in all regions, not just Southern California.

Oregon Coach Chip Kelly also hopes to capitalize on his team's victory over the Trojans, but said this week that it takes more than one win to make an impact with recruits.

"A win over a team with a reputation like Southern California helps you, but if you don't . . . win the rest of the year and that's the only game you win, that's really not going to help you," Kelly said.

On the rise

With the Trojans losing every member of the starting secondary at the end of the season, freshmen Jawanza Starling, T.J. McDonald and Byron Moore tried to make the most of extended opportunities this week.

"At the beginning of the season I wasn't comfortable with all of the plays and the checks and all that," said Starling, a safety. "Now I can contribute more. It's coming easier for me."

McDonald, also a safety, was able to take advantage of one-on-one coaching.

"A lot of times you try to learn from the older guys, watching them and watching film, but the coaches can focus on us more during a bye, so you have to take advantage of it," he said.

Moore, a cornerback, was sidelined Thursday because of a hamstring strain.

But he said the connection the younger players have made will serve them well.

"The best thing we have so far is just our bond together on and off the field," he said.

"I think that's going to carry a big role for us in our future."

Quick kicks

With Michael Morgan nursing wrist and shoulder injuries, freshman Devon Kennard will probably start again at strong-side linebacker against UCLA on Nov. 28, Carroll said. Malcolm Smith is expected to return as the starting weak-side linebacker. . . . The Trojans will have a short workout and then be off the rest of the weekend.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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