USC sets stage for NFL draft history

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On the eve of the 2009 NFL draft, Mark Sanchez has occupied the media focus. But somewhere among the pre-draft ritual of hyping and highlighting the biggest names, three of his Southern California teammates find themselves in line to make NFL draft history.

When the stock of Clay Matthews escalated over the period of draft evaluation, it lifted his projection to the first-round, joining fellow linebackers Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga. If Saturday proves the accuracy of those projections correct, it will be the first time in NFL draft history that three linebackers from a single program are selected in the first round.

Also, when you look at the 2009 Trojans draft package, you see that three of the first round projections (Sanchez, Maualuga, Cushing) are former Rose Bowl MVPs, winning either offensive or defensive honors. Searching the list, you’ll also find a fourth. Linebacker Kaluka Maiava was the 2009 Rose Bowl defensive MVP, and is projected to go anywhere between the second and fourth rounds.

When the dust settles on Monday, The NFL will have included 4 additional linebackers from the University of Southern California, with the newcomers Joining Keith Rivers and Thomas Williams (2008), Lofa Tatupu (2005), and the aging Willie McGinest (1994) and Junior Seau (1990).

And the pipeline looks to keep flowing, with the Trojan youth movement prepared to showcase another young and talented corps for the 2009 college football season, which will eventually feed into future NFL waters. Running back is historically the glamour position of the program, which receives national recognition as “Tailback U”. But in the new era of Pete Carroll football, and under the guidance of linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr., the Trojan linebackers have emerged as the NFL’s most wanted.

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~ by Anthony on April 24, 2009.

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