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O/NSO: Countdown edition

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC

The Obvious: National Letter of Intent Day is just days away.

The Not So Obvious: Already there are preliminary evaluations on how all the Pac-12 teams are projected to finish, and it’s safe to say that the USC Trojans recruiting fortunes, which have been highly ranked the past two recruiting seasons, will be determined by surprises and disappointments and that’s what makes recruiting so much fun, fascinating, and frustrating. Given the fact that Clay Helton’s staff was officially just completed adds to the signing day intrigue.

The Obvious: As an assistant coach, Trojans head coach Clay Helton was considered a very good recruiter, having been the point man for the Trojans probable 2016 starting quarterback Max Browne, who hails from Sammamish, Washington.

The Not So Obvious: However, it’s a whole new world for Helton who must now be the closer as a head coach. It may be unfair to make a judgment without the benefit of a whole recruiting season or even a slowly assembled staff, but all eyes will be on the Trojans head coach for potential signees that are currently riding the recruiting fence.

The Obvious: Recruiting isn’t always ethical but is justified as a necessity in combating rival school tactics.

The Not So Obvious: A lot was made about Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh sleeping overnight at a recruit’s home, although it was a “time technicality” since a coach can spend only one day a week at a recruit’s home/school between Jan 14-30. In the case of Harbaugh, he arrived at the recruit’s house just after midnight. Taking a potential page out of Harbaugh’s book, Trojans defensive line coach Kenechi Udeze was photographed sleeping at 1 a.m. in the home of Arizona Western D-line recruit Jonathan Kongbo lll. You do what you have to do working within the system.

The Obvious: As a recruiting ploy, the Trojans like to entice prospects with the possibility of wearing the legendary No. 55.

The Not So Obvious: So there was Jonathan Kongbo lll wearing a No. 55 jersey on his official USC visit. It’s the same number he wore at Arizona Western. Perhaps the biggest recruiting advantage with Kongbo is newly named Trojans DL coach Kenechi Udeze, who is said to have made inroads with Kongbo.

The Obvious: The Trojans ticket department is running an aggressive campaign to get fans to renew their tickets for the 2016 season.

The Not So Obvious: At last count, there have been three separate emails regarding season ticket renewals, and the deadline isn’t until Feb. 29.

The Obvious: Jurrell Casey is a former All-Pac-12 defensive lineman for the Trojans.

The Not So Obvious: Casey, who plays for the Tennessee Titans, is a member of this season’s NFL Pro Bowl, which will be played this Sunday in Aloha Stadium in Honolulu (4 p.m. PST/ESPN). Casey finished this past NFL season starting all 16 games at defensive tackle and tied for the team lead with seven sacks. He ranked second on the Titans with 11 tackles for loss, and a career-high 28 quarterback pressures, while also collecting 86 tackles.

The Obvious: The Senior Bowl, basically an evaluation camp and game for NFL scouts, will take place on Saturday from Mobile, Alabama (11:30 a.m. PST/NFL Network).

The Not So Obvious: Trojans expected to participate include quarterback Cody Kessler and fullback/ special teams performer Soma Vainuku. Keep any eye out for Vainuku on special teams, which figure to get him on an NFL roster.

The Obvious: Anthony Sarao is a former starting linebacker for the 2015 Trojans.

The Not So Obvious: A whistle-to-whistle player, you might have missed the fact that Anthony played last Saturday on the West Team in the 91st annual East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Florida.

The Obvious: Former Trojans defensive linemen Antwaun Woods and Greg Townsend and defensive back Kevon Seymour played last Saturday afternoon at the StubHub Center in the NFLPA Bowl.

The Not So Obvious: Both Woods and Townsend said they felt they gave a good account of themselves and forged a good start in their bid to make an NFL roster or the very least, training camp.

The Obvious: Carson Palmer is the starting quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals.

The Not So Obvious: Although Carson and his teammates won’t be playing in Super Bowl 50, Palmer was selected to play in the Pro Bowl but has been replaced by Teddy Bridgewater.

The Obvious: Former Trojans center Ryan Kalil will be playing in Super Bowl 50 for the Carolina Panthers.

The Not So Obvious: FYI, Kalil was also voted to the Pro Bowl but obviously won’t be playing due to his Super Bowl 50 assignment against Denver.

The Obvious: Green Bay linebacker Clay Matthews and Dallas offensive tackle Tyron Smith will join the other Trojans mentioned in the Pro Bowl.

The Not So Obvious: Of course, all those Trojans mentioned would rather be playing in the Super Bowl 50 than in the Pro Bowl. In a bit irony, former Trojans defensive lineman Wes Horton, who has been on Carolina’s injured reserve roster, has a chance to win himself a Super Bowl. Whatever it takes it the old saying.

The Obvious: And finally, according to a recent ESPN story, USC athletes were deficient in their Vitamin D levels, so the Trojans nutrition staff added Frosted Flakes to their diet.

The Not So Obvious: According to The Wall Street Journal’s Rachel Bachman, more than one-third of the student-athlete population at USC had insufficient Vitamin D levels, a cereal that’s fortified with Vitamin D. What next? Rice Krispies?

Greg Katz
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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