With the opening salvo of Fall Camp just a little more than two weeks away, there is already a lot for Trojan fans to be smiling about if not getting downright giddy.
First of all, since my last update, the Trojans have added two more commitments, which brings them up to ten.
Commit No. 9 is Fontana (CA) Kaiser High School Athlete Anthony Brown. Notice that he is listed as an Athlete rather than a particular skilled position player.
Brown attended the USC Rising Stars Camp a few weeks ago as a tailback. However, the defensive staff wanted to see what he could do on the other side of the ball, and Brown must have impressed them quite a bit as an offer followed almost immediately.
Commit No. 10 is a true defensive back, Lakewood safety Dion Bailey (6-1, 195). Bailey officially announced his commitment as his Lakewood team was taking part in the 7-on-7 passing tournament at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore.
Bailey had three good reasons for picking the Trojans: "USC offers great academics and football, which were the two things I looked at the most. They are right in my backyard, so my family and friends can see me play."
Now the only question is will his Lakewood teammate, quarterback Jesse Scroggins, follow Bailey’s lead and end up a Trojan.
And some really good news on the injury front!
Two of the big names missing from spring practice have returned and are looking better than ever.
The guy that anchors that offensive line, center Kris O’Dowd, missed all of spring practice while recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrium.
He was given medical clearance a few weeks ago and has been taking part in the summer session team workouts that begin every morning at 6:30.
O’Dowd says he is glad to be back with his teammates and the shoulder is a hundred percent. With all experienced veterans returning on the offensive line, O’Dowd expects that they can work on the little things during Fall Camp to really improve their game.
One of the players who will benefit from what arguably will be the best offensive line in college football has also returned and has actually doubled his efforts.
Mister Excitement, tailback Joe McKnight, used all of spring practice to rehabilitate his four dislocated toes suffered in the Rose Bowl. Like O’Dowd, McKnight says he is a hundred percent healthy.
To prove it, McKnight is playing on both sides of the ball. So, those of you who may have thought I was joking in my last report when I mentioned that McKnight was covering wide receiver Jordan Cameron, it was no joke. At least not to McKnight.
"I’m interested in playing everything this year," McKnight has said. "I’m going to try and play wide receiver, running back and cornerback. I’m just trying to do everything I can to help the team."
Of course, Pete Carroll may not be very enthusiastic about the idea of one of his star tailbacks doubling on defense, but the Trojan cornerbacks all seem down with what McKnight is trying to accomplish and have been encouraging him.
"They told me that I can play there if I get the technique down," he said. "That’s all I need is the technique. If I get that, then I can play. I’m just doing it all on pure athleticism right now, but it’s going pretty good."
Of course, tailback, wide receiver and defensive back are the three skilled positions where the Trojans are very deep instead as opposed to just plain deep.
So, if McKnight really wants to help out wherever he can and play on both sides of the ball, maybe he should think about taking some reps at linebacker.
Salute to Troy, the annual kickoff banquet for the football season, will be Saturday, Aug. 22 at 4:30 p.m. on Cromwell Field. The dinner program will follow an open-to-the-public practice at 3 p.m. that day.
Tickets are $60 for adults and $20 for children and can be purchased online at the Trojan website.