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IMHO Sunday: All in the NFL Family

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC.com

In my humble opinion, cardinal and gold thoughts on what I see, what I hear, and what I think.

Cardinal and Gold blood brothers: The one striking aspect of the 2016 NFL draft is that fact that a number of former USC players selected went to teams that are currently coached by former players of the Cardinal and Gold. Among those former Trojans coaching newly drafted Trojans are Hue Jackson (HC Cleveland), Jack Del Rio (HC Oakland) Joe Barry (DC Washington), and Dennis Thurman (DC Buffalo). Even Seattle’s Pete Carroll got into the act with a Trojans free agent signing.

Hail to the Redskins On Friday night, former Trojans linebacker Su’a Cravens (above photo) was selected by the Washington Redskins in the second round (53rd pick) of the NFL draft. Cravens said he’ll wear Washington jersey No. 21 in honor of late former Redskins safety Sean Taylor. However, Sunday after it was announced that Su’a would wear No. 36 with the Redskins.

Honored number update: The update on the Sunday number change was due to the fact that no Redskins player has worn No. 21 since the passing of  Sean Taylor. Although the number is not officially retired, Cravens thought it best to honor Taylor by wearing No. 36, which Taylor wore as a Redskins rookie.

More Cravens: Su’a Cravens said, “Well, he’s (Sean Taylor) definitely my all-time favorite safety, and those are big shoes to fill. So when I come to Washington, I’m ready to play, and, hopefully, I can be half as good as that man.” In 2007, Taylor was killed by intruders at his Miami home.

FYI: Washington Redskins defensive coordinator is former Trojans linebacker and coach Joe Barry.

Mad Max: No Trojan could be happier with his NFL draft destination than former center Max Tuerk, who was taken by the San Diego Chargers in the third round (66th pick). Next to Max’s excitement of staying in Southern California had to be his Orange County parents, who will now be a relatively short freeway ride south of about 85 minutes to reach the Chargers Qualcomm Stadium.

The anti-Manziel: If anybody can erase some of the character ruble left by former Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, it has to be former Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler, who was surprisingly taken by the Browns in the third round (93rd) pick. Cody is an angel compared to the archangel Manziel. It certainly won’t hurt Cody that his new head coach is Hue Jackson, former Trojans offensive coordinator.

Anti-Manziel – Part 2: Making the selection of Cody Kessler by Cleveland even more impressive or surprising is the fact he went ahead of a number of quarterbacks that many felt were better, and one of those was Stanford’s Kevin Hogan, who quarterbacked the Cardinal to three Pac-12 titles in four years as a starter. Of course, Hogan didn’t have five head coaches in his time at Stanford like Kessler did at Troy.

The reunion: Former Trojans corner Kevon Seymour was taken in the 6th round (43rd pick/218) by the Buffalo Bills and will be reunited with former Trojans corner and free agent Nickell Robey and wide receiver Robert Woods. What Seymour can learn from Robey’s past is that all that matters is what you show in training camp is all that matters.

The reunion – Part 2: And to make things even more cozy in frigid Buffalo for Kevon Seymour, the Bills defensive coordinator is Dennis Thurman and secondary coach is Tim McDonald. As my dad used to say, “Son, it’s not what you know, but who you know.”

A second chance: Sometimes the most intriguing stories regarding the NFL draft are who gets signed as a free agent and eventually makes a roster. Keep your eye on Trojans signed free agents Tre Madden (Seahawks), Antwaun Woods (Titans), Claude Pelon (Jets), Delvon Simmons (Colts), Anthony Sarao (Colts), Greg Townsend Jr. (Oakland), and Soma Vainuku (Texans).

Like father like son: Perhaps the most compelling Trojans free agent signing had to be when Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, the former Trojans All-American linebackers, decided to sign Trojans defensive end Greg Townsend Jr., whose father was a former all-star D-linemen for the Raiders. Silver and Black, baby.

Still the leaders: After this week’s NFL draft, the Trojans remain the all-time leader in draft picks (496) followed by rival Notre Dame (493).

Tighten up: With the NFL draft now concluded and the Los Angeles Rams having made their selections, it should be noted the last time the Rams drafted a tight end in the first round was in 1969 when they chose Trojans standout Bob Klein.

From the press box…

Pass the Tums: Count me in as another observer that is “disgusted” by the apparent secondary outcome by the NCAA looking into the alleged academic improprieties of the University of North Carolina athletic department, which at the time included football and men’s basketball.The NCAA has made an about face regarding the Tar Heals academic issues with football and men’s basketball, and it puts even more manure on the NCAA as it pertains to the draconian punishment given the Trojans.

Iron Honest Mike: At the time, former Trojans Athletic Director Mike Garrett took enormous heat during the Reggie Bush investigation when he told a gathering of Trojans boosters that the NCAA was only doing what it was doing in the Bush case because they (NCAA) were jealous they were not Trojans. Garrett looked the fool by basically challenging and egging on the powerful NCAA. In hindsight – even though the timing of the comments were combustible – they probably were probably true, especially when you look at what has taken place in investigations at North Carolina, Ohio State, and Miami. Sickening.

Cost of living: In a recent letter out to Trojans season ticket holders as it pertains to Coliseum renovations and future ticket prices, the letter, which was not signed by outgoing athletic director Pat Haden, read, “ We are committed to providing affordable seating options to all fans with approximately two thirds of all seating not requiring any type of capital gift.

Cost of Living – Part 2: It appears that a “capital gift” means a PSL (personal seat license). Obviously, the PSL is a fear of many “middle class” Trojans season ticket holders who would have a rough time making financial ends meet if such a PSL was instituted universally by the USC Athletic Department.

Reality check: When I was young, I didn’t understand why a first-team AP All-America would be drafted behind a player with “lesser” honors. Well, I finally wised up and came to learn that honors coming out of college mean nothing. It all comes down to what the scouts think through film and the ensuing workouts.

Reality check: In his final post-spring practice Pac-12 Media scrum, Clay Helton reassured anybody paying attention that he is well aware of the challenges of his talented but youthful defensive line. And, no doubt, so is Alabama.

The recruit: Many agree that Class of 2017 running back Najee Harris (Antioch, Calif./Antioch) is the best player in the country. The Trojans, of course, are hoping that Najee will attend their Rising Stars Camp in June. Although he is currently committed to Alabama, how much would a Trojans upset of the Crimson Tide have on the stability of Harris’s commitment?

The post-game show…

The rescind: Look, if the NCAA wants to do a quick turnaround and rescind their original edict that “Satellite Camps” are blatant recruiting advantages, fine. But, please, don’t tell us they rescinding their original verdict because – after further review – it’s not really about recruiting but spreading the love of football. Yeah, and the Berlin Wall was erected to keep Westerners from wanting to move into East Berlin.

Say what: So Ohio State had five first round draft picks from last season’s team and couldn’t win the CFP National Championship. Well, let’s not forget, the Trojans had 11 players drafted off the 2005 team and couldn’t beat Texas in the BCS title game. As they say, on any given day…

Blockheads: According to former Trojans head coach Pete Carroll in an article from coachingsearch.com, offensive linemen in college are ill-prepared for the NFL game. Carroll said, “There will be guys that we’re looking at that have never been in a (three-point) stance before. They’ve always been in a two-point stance. There are transitions that have to take place. In the last couple years, we’ve seen pretty strong adjustments by college offensive coordinators to adjust how guys are coming off the ball. They’re not as aggressive and physical-oriented as we like them to be.”

Reflections: When you begin to wonder how much of an effect a coach and his scheme can make on a player(s), just look what new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast has done to apparently resurrect the collegiate careers of senior linebackers Jabari Ruffin and Quinton Powell and senior free safety Leon McQuay lll.

The last word: The Trojans have established a new website for USC fans to follow the progress of the Coliseum renovations. You might want to check it out at www.coliseumrenovation.com.

Greg Katz

Now entering his 59th season of either writing, broadcasting, or just plain watching USC football, WeAreSC columnist Greg Katz began his affiliation with the website back in 2001, introducing his well-received O/NSO (The Obvious/The Not So Obvious) column and later adding his respected IMHO Sunday opinion and tidbits column. Greg, a former ESPN.com college football columnist covering USC, is also a member of the Football Writer's Association of America. He is also known in Southern California as a professional public address announcer, having called the the 1996 Rose Bowl Game between USC and Northwestern. Greg also holds a master's degree in athletic administration and was a former varsity high school coach of 27 years.

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