Comments From Pete Carroll On USC's 2009 Football Signings

Feb. 4, 2009

Comments from USC Coach Pete Carroll on the Trojans 2009 Football Signees

'It was an exciting night and day as it always is. We have put together a diversified class that we needed to get. We needed to get more on defense than offense this year. The guys that are in the class are such dynamic guys and have so much ability to add so much to the team, we're really excited.

'If you look at the roster and how it shifted this year with all of the offensive guys coming back and the defensive guys more so leaving, we really felt the need to find the linebackers and defensive ends in particular and make sure we addressed the issue of the age of the guys at safety and we were able to hit that in a big way. We are overloaded on defense.

'Offensively, when you start off with the best player in the country at quarterback in Matt Barkley - and he's already here in school - that's an extraordinary boost to your class and a great starting point. We're thrilled to have him here and he's already working and will be in the thick of the quarterback competition.

'The receiver from Birmingham High School, De'Von Flournoy is an extraordinary dynamic receiver. He's a big-play guy with great speed. Makes all kind of plays and is a terrific kick returner as well. He makes plays on defense as well. We want him as a wide receiver in the Z spot and we're really pumped about him. He's a track guy and very fast. He's explosive on the field and on film. I really love the way he plays.

'Kevin Graf is a big kid that's been around our program for years. I think he was coming to the 8th-grade camps when he was in 4th grade he was such a big kid. He's been around us forever. He comes from an SC family. His brother (Derek) played here his dad (Allan) played here, offensive linemen from the day they were born. Kevin is a great kid, playing basketball for Agoura now. We expect him to come in as a tackle. He's one of the most complete players that we've had at the offensive line at this early age and a great deal of credit goes to his coaches of course, but also from the upbringing from his family and the camps, he's really well equipped and can vie for the best kid at his position with anyone in the country. We're really thrilled about him.

'John Martinez comes from Utah, a kid we'll play at center. He grabbed our attention early on because he's an extraordinary effort guy. He played very much like Jeff Byers did when he captured our attention long ago in that he finishes and runs down field and makes hits and shows great versatility to play all the positions on the line. But we talked to John from the beginning about being a center and he's championed the cause. He was the No. 1 guard in the country on some scales throughout the recruiting preparation. He's a great kid and a very tough hombre and we're really fired up about him.

'Simione Vehikite is the first time in a while where we've hit a fullback. We're thrilled about getting that done. He's a guy that played a lot of defense as well as running back as well as true fullback. He was a nose tackle at one school, then transferred and when the coaches found out he could run fast and was versatile, they made him a running back and he blasted on the scene in one year's time. Kenny (Norton) found him out there in the islands when he was out recruiting and he fell in love with Simi and he's coming in truly as a fullback. We've had a hard time finding guys that fit the bill, but Simi is one of those guys. He comes here with an opportunity to do that, of course, and also be a special teams kid because of all the work he's had at linebacker.

'To finish out that side of the ball, any time you have a chance to get a kicker and a punter combined, it's an enormous advantage for us. Jake Harfman is that guy. He comes from Mt. Sac and will definitely be able to compete on kickoffs, placekicks and punting. What we do know is that Jake has an enormous leg and as we've grown accustomed to David Buehler and the big booming kicks, Jake does all of that. He'll at least do that and will vie for placekicking and punting. We're really fired up about that. It's a great boost to our special teams.

'On the other side of the ball, we needed the numbers. We lost a lot of kids that played a lot of football for us at linebacker and the rush spots. We went hard there. The first player - and talk about a dynamic football player and athlete - from L.A. Jordan High, James Boyd is an extraordinary kid. I don't know how much you know about him, but to know he was an MVP in his league as a quarterback, and also caught passes and ran the ball and played WR and TE and was an extraordinarily effective DE and rusher. And he is leading his league in scoring and rebounding. He's an extraordinary athlete. We've never had a guy who could do that much coming to play defensive end here. I look back to all the guys we've had that have played so well and try to think of Kenechi (Udeze) being a quarterback or Lawrence Jackson being a leading scorer in basketball. This is a very skilled athlete and we're really pumped about him that's he coming and looking forward to all the things he brings. He's a very well rounded athlete.

'Kevin Greene is a guy we recruited out of San Francisco. He's a guy that played defensive end spot. We've seen him run very, very fast. He's got great speed and size. He could play defensive end and outside linebacker, he's got that kind of body type at 6-3, 237. He could play both and we'll see how he fits in. He runs so fast and gets up the field rushing the passer. You never have enough guys that can do that. Kevin is also a really good basketball player and a kid we're fired up about.

'Patrick Hall is one of the most diversified athletes and dynamic kids you could imagine. He can play everything. We saw him years ago as a linebacker. The first time we ever saw him he was an undersized linebacker as a sophomore. But he showed all of the instincts and nose for the football and the savvy that great players have. He's been a running back, a wide receiver, he's played safety, corner and linebacker. He's a tremendous kick returner. We want to see him on the defensive side of the ball, but it won't take us long to continue to find ways and experiment with him in terms of getting the ball in his hands. He's one of the fastest kids we've seen in a long time.

'The next guy, from Las Vegas, is Torin Harris. He's in the mold of Kevin Thomas and Terrell Thomas. Tall, long, real fast. Ran a 10.6 as a junior last year. He's got great speed. Of course, in his offense, he played running back and caught the pass, returned kicks. Lot of big plays on the defensive side. He's a really, really gifted athlete. He's one of those guys who can do a lot of stuff. We're going to feature him at a corner. He looks perfect.

'Byron Moore, from Narbonne High, will also come in and play corner. He's another guy that did everything. He played all over the football field for his team. He's got great ability, speed and is a dynamic player. He scores touchdowns from everywhere, catches passes, runs out of the backfield. Played safety and corner in high school and is an extraordinarily gifted kid that gives us great diversity. He does all the things that you want a terrific football player to do. He's a big get.

'Safety T.J. McDonald from Edison High in Fresno. This kid is just a prototype looking safety. He looks just like the kids we've had the last few years. He's over 6-2 and 218 pounds already. He's a gifted player and student, a great leader and just everything you're looking for. His dad played here at USC, Tim McDonald, who played when I was coaching at the 49ers. They are the spitting image of each other. They are the same size and stature and playmaking ability and leadership qualities and all those things.

'The No. 1 rated defensive end in the country Devon Kennard is an extraordinary football player. You think of a defensive end you think of a guy just rushing the passer. He can cover, he can rush, he's a great edge rush guy. He can play one-on-one coverage on tight ends and shadow receivers when he has to. He's played on the offensive side of the ball. He's just a gifted player who has a tremendous upside and we think he's got a chance to help us right away and be a factor in our rush corps from the beginning. We're really excited about what he brings us.

'Defensive Tackle Hebron Fangupo is a kid who comes to us from Mt. Sac JC. He's a very active player. He's 320 pounds and has great size and quickness. He's got really good quickness at the line of scrimmage. His initial quickness is there, a kind of explosion and play-making ability that you love. It's coincidental that an opportunity opens up at the 3-technique with Fili (Moala) taking off. Here comes another 300-pound kid that can come in and fit the bill. We'll work him at both tackle spots but we'd love to see him compete at that spot and see how he fits in. We see him as a pass rusher as well as a run defender. We love that he's got the girth already and that he's a very explosive player.

'A local kid coming from Dominguez is Marquis Simmons. He's been a star player for his school for a number of years. He's been a leading tackler and a guy that makes everything happen. He's an obvious penetrator and a guy that blitzes very well. He's an outside speed guy and runs sideline to sideline and a kid we've watched grow up in the program. He's (former Trojan) Melvin Simmons' little brother. We've known the family for a long time. We're excited about Marquis coming in.

'Also at linebacker from Columbus, Ga., is Jarvis Jones. He's an amazing player. He's got great size. He's 6-3, 230-something pounds. He's an all-around athlete. Explosive, dynamic, an excellent basketball player and might have a chance to play on the basketball team. He's that dynamic. He attacks and rushes up the field. He's a great blitzer and cover guy and we're ecstatic that we're able to get Jarvis. We think he'll have a chance to play and contribute and compete for playing time immediately when he gets here.

'Another really exciting player for us that we see as a WIL linebacker where Kaluka Maiava and Keith Rivers played for us is Frankie Telfort from Miami. He's the first kid we've recruited from Miami. He's very, very fast. He ran under 4.4 a couple of weeks ago at his workouts. He's so explosive and is such a feisty kid. He's a kid that led their football team as the playcaller on defense. He's got an enormous understanding of defensive football and adjustments that would knock you out. Like way beyond anybody we've ever talked to about understanding how to make checks and audibles and how to change defenses. He talks like he's a junior or senior in college and maybe even more than that. We're thrilled about him. He's a guy that wants to be a doctor and go to med school.

'I think what we have is a really fast, versatile group of guys. I think what happened in this recruiting effort went in a couple of directions. We were surprised in a couple of kids that we were recruiting and thought we had a good chance to get that, for one reason or another, wound up going somewhere else. We were surprised to land a couple of these kids from out of state, Jarvis and Frankie, and there are a couple of guys that we continue to recruit that are still out there that have yet to make a final decision. So we're in position to again put together a group of guys that will help the football team this year. They'll not just add depth but will vie for playing time and with the speed that we covet so much, it can continue to help us in many ways. It's been really good, tough, competitive days here in both directions and I think we've been very fortunate. The guys that put it together - the in-close guys and the guys that did the outreach - worked like crazy and did a beautiful job.'

(on the recruiting day surprises)
'I think it's been like this for years. When you take shots at guys that are so good that they have 30 and 40 scholarship offers and coaches coming and going, it's hard to tell sometimes how it will wind up. It goes in both directions. You never get all the guys you want. We always are left wanting three or four other guys you wish you could've nailed. But it's also the three or four other guys you get from other schools that they feel the same way about. There's a give and take there. You can recruit all the way until the end of the process and think things are going one way and you think you don't have a shot at a guy or you do, but you keep working and you stay up late and you stay after it, stuff happens. This was a really competitive couple of days here. We'll never be satisfied when we don't get everyone that we want, but we know we have a great class and from top to bottom this is an extremely competitive group of guys.'

(were you surprised about Manti Te'o's decision to go to Notre Dame instead of USC)
'It was part of his choices all along. He visited there early and had a great visit. He liked the history of the program for quite some time. They were always in it. He's a great player and we battled all the way to the end. He had his heart set on going there.'

(what does it do for Matt Barkley that he's already enrolled at USC)
'It's all you could hope for. When we were recruiting Matt a long time ago, we talked about the opportunity that Mark Sanchez might have if he hits it right and is really a great football player, maybe he has the opportunity to come out early. And sure enough right after the day we were in here (for Sanchez's press conference where he announced he was turning pro), we went into the team meeting and one of the first guys I run into is Barkley. And he's looking at me with his yes like this. And I said `It happened. Here you go. Just like we talked about.' He's here, ready to take full advantage of jumping in with both feet to give himself the best opportunity to battle and see how far he can take it. As we always do, the newest guys to us are the ones we need to see the most. Our young guys come in and we throw them right to the front and we put them in with the No. 1 group and start to look how they fit in with guys that have been around the program to see how they handle it and how they fit and how they prepare for these opportunities. Matt will be one of these guys. Matt's going to get a great look to see where he fits in. It's always my job to give the guys a good competitive opportunity. It doesn't do a guy any good to sit back and watch around here. You have to get out there and play and show us who you are and what you are all about.'

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