Rebuilding Troy one prospect at a time
Depending on the source, the USC class of 2010 will either rank as the best in the nation or cling to the lower portion of the top-10. We have several sources, using different measures of strength, and it all combines to make little sense. But disparity isn’t exclusive to Rivals, Scout, ESPN or anyone else specialized in placing groups in a numerical order, because assessment will also differ in conversations among casual fans.
Lane Kiffin managed to salvage a dissipating class that was wandering lost in the confusion of sudden abandonment. And not only did his incoming staff gather the majority of those falling pieces and put them back in place, they also made key additions that bolstered the overall strength of the group.—-Well, at least that’s the word in some circles.
The Trojan class of 2010 reveals the makings of an offensive explosion. Kyle Prater is just one of the names among them that may have been loss without the Kiffin hire, especially when you consider that USC has yet to name an offensive coordinator. But some will argue that the defense took hits with the loss of Carroll, surrendering players like Dietrich Riley and Josh Shirley to UCLA, and completely taking themselves out of the running for Demar Dorsey. In the absence of Pete Carroll, the Trojans are also short offensive lineman Brice Schwab and punter Matt Darr. But you also have to ask if losing the former coach resulted in gaining Seantrel Henderson, who represents the crown jewel of Signing Day.
Regardless of your side of the debate, Signing day gave evidence of what was and could have been. The Trojan Empire was rebuilt on the recruiting success of Carroll, Kiffin, Orgeron, and Chow. Working together, they were fine tuned, leaving no region of the country untouched, with each luring top prospects to a single program to fulfill their positional needs. The success of 2010 is an inadvertent result of a team’s combined effort. Kiffin and Orgeron finished a process that Carroll began.
But in the end, what does it all mean? Contrary to popular beliefs that are often supported by a hoard of media statistics, national champions are not crowned on signing day. Champions are built during the days of development that follow. Top prospects must also be filtered into the starting rotation in equal portions, something the Trojans successfully accomplished for many years, but failed to have the luxury of doing this past season. Where there was a balance of replacements in seasons prior, plugging in eight new defensive faces in a single season proved to be the Achilles heel of the 2009 Trojans.
USC finished the 2009 season with an Emerald Bowl victory. That team featured thirteen starters once listed among the nation’s top-100 high school prospects. That is the most of any school. In comparison, Alabama won it all, with only three of the nation’s top-100 on their starting roster. The Tide accomplished this by first defeating Florida (10) to get to the championship game, and Texas (9) to earn the right to raise the trophy. Oregon won the Pac 10, without a top-100 starter on the field.
Let’s celebrate the recruiting success of today, while also remembering it’s still a work in progress. Top recruiting classes are more difficult to keep intact, and transfers are one of the casualties of competition. Skills must also be developed and defined by coaching staffs, to reap the most benefit from those commitments.
Troy continues to build on its historic foundation, adding a fresh layer of players and coaches. Signing Day revealed no loss of luster or lure for an institution that has continued to thrive on tradition and excellence. The future is undetermined, yet the future is ours.