USC Trojan Football Spring Preview: Is the EPIC 2006 Recruiting Class a Failure?
It was Pete Carroll's finest moment!
They were the best recruiting class in the nation in 2006 and PC's largest by far!
Carroll's haul included 27 of the best prospects in the land. A vision of continued Trojan dominance danced in the heads of the Troy faithful.
It's now four years later and all but 11 of the class of 2006 have departed. Some of those players participated in the combine last month and will be in the upcoming NFL draft.
"A star—studded class and another example of the rich getting richer," Sports Illustrated screamed in headlining USC's 2006 Epic No. 1 recruiting class, describing the the boys as "great athletes who can hit."
Trojan fans were delirious with joy back then, but are now confused with questions, like......
What happened to the class of 2006?
Only one prospect, golden leg David Buehler, has had any success so far in the NFL.
He was at heritage Hall for two short years and made a great impression on Trojan coaches and fans with a great attitude and tremendous work ethic.
Oh boy, was it fun to see the opposing offense start inside the 20 time after time.
David Buehler is a winner!
Then there was the transfer gang! Those kids for one reason or another just didn't get Pete Carroll's mantra which was "always compete!"
Always compete was plastered everywhere and was the theme of USC football.
Vidal Hazleton, Emmanuel Moody, Antwine Perez and Jamere Holland decided to "compete" elsewhere and were notable transfers to schools like Cincinnati, Florida, Maryland and even Oregon.
Florida and Oregon? Talk about a stinging exit! Did they not buy into competition Thursdays?
It looked like they were competing to go a school that was easier for them to get some playing time!
Moody's transfer was especially upsetting, because the USC running backs were constantly nicked up from injury almost immediately after he left for the "Bluer" pastures of the Florida Gators.
Moody would have made a huge impact had he stayed a Trojan.
Instead he became a bit player for Florida (as far as Trojan fans are concerned), though he did win a BCS title.
Do you remember Josh Tatum a tough four—star from Oakland? Few do! He never got in! Kenny Ashley was another casualty who never saw the practice field.
They had talent like USC's present day Anthony Brown from Fontana and Ventura's Giovanni Di Poalo. Great potential and highly sought after! But, you never know. That's why there are coaches.
We just never heard from them! Ever!
Then there was Alex Parsons who contributed, but probably not enough to make the NFL dance in a big way!
He finished in the bottom half of the offensive lineman at the combine, so we will just have to see how his career progresses.
If you are wondering about Long Beach Poly standouts Vincent Joseph and Alfred Rowe, you are a "real" recruiting junky. They just went away!
Then there was Garrett Green. He was loved by every teammate and gave the effort to warrant it!
He was a leader and a great special teams player and most importantly a guy everyone wanted to be around!
It was clear that last year's 9 —4 record without a BCS bowl or Pac 10 title was not without warning.
The great class of 2006 had been largely absent from making a major impact last season and the 2010 combine proved it!
Damien Williams who is a transfer member of the class said , "I think I did OK" at the combine. Too bad, because he did better than "OK" last season and Trojan fans loved his grit!
Our famous used car driver Joe McKnight scooted out early as a 2007 member and was "there" but little else. It reminds us of all of his unused potential.
Jeff Byers (remember when he was Mr. CAN'T MISS out of high school?) and Emerson Griffin helped the great class of 2006 to get an average combine score.
What about Taylor Mays ? He hasn't been heard from very much either! Was he a skilled player or skilled at drilling opponents?
Is that 4.24 (we think!) fast enough to get him noticed in the first round. Going into 2009 he was a lock to be in the top 10. What about now?
After last season's defensive meltdown, the jury is now out on where Taylor Mays will go!
Then there is Stafon Johnson. Many Trojan fans wished he would have stayed for a "medical redshirt" year. He will give it everything he has, but his 40 is better than just six of the Combine tailbacks, so he is likely to be buried in the later rounds. Too bad!
What does this say about Pete Carroll and the Trojan coaching staff?
The significant amount of coaching staff turnover particularly after 2006 appears to really have taken its toll.
The Trojans were able to hold it together until last year, because the previous players enjoyed more continuity in their coaches. Eventually the turnover was bound to affect the staff and we witnessed it firsthand.
The constant rumor about Carroll's eventual departure to the NFL kept him from landing great coaching replacements as well. Trojan fans witnessed the horror movie last year.
What does that mean for the remaining players in the class of 2006?
They are David Ausberry, Allen Bradford, C.J. Gable, Stanley Havili, Zack Heberer, Butch Lewis, Michael Morgan, Travon Patterson, Derek Simmons and Shareece Wright (five—star Mitch Mustain doesn't count, or does he? He does!).
Each has had a big play here or there but none has been the go to guy. They now get a chance to correct the wrongs and bring stability under Lane Kiffin and his staff.
Kiffin will no doubt have these players on a short leash, anxious to make a mark with younger talent if they fail to carry the mantle.
These eleven holdovers still have a chance to make an impact. Forget the position switches (Bradford, Simmons, Lewis), or the academic issues (Havili, Wright).
Throw out the serious injuries (Bradford, Havili, Gable, Wright). Trojans fans know potential when they see it. These guys have the ability to make a difference!
There is also a great staff of coaches who want to win now! Will it be the class of 2006 that get's the Kiffin era rolling?
These guys have the potential to make up for it in one season! Spring practice will be a great indicator of their ability to contribute in 2010.
All Trojan fans should watch spring practice very closely.
For the epic class of 2006 the time is now to put up or shut up. They need to lead in practice and hit hard. They need to carry the Trojan swagger onto the Coliseum floor and hurt the opponent.
If the class of 2006 fails to deliver, they will be relegated to the sidelines as the father and son Kiffin's and Ed Orgeron usher in a new era of Trojan football.
The truth of the matter is that 2006 class reminds many of the 2010 class, though the 2010 class was much smaller.
By themselves, the eleven prospects that were just mentioned would have given the USC recruiting class more five—stars than anyone but Florida and like this year's class the highest average by far.
It's time for the holdovers of the epic 2006 class to step up or step aside! The Kiffin class of 2010 is right on your heals, boys!
Check it out if you are tired of the current BCS system and want a change now!
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