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O/NSO: Replenishing edition

By Greg Katz – WeAreSC.com

The Obvious: Following the Trojans thrilling 52-49 Rose Bowl victory over Penn State, attention now turns to the home stretch of recruiting and restocking the roster, and USC fans can see some of those prospects and commitments in Saturday’s U.S. Army All-America Game (10 a.m. PT/NBC).

The Not So Obvious: Thanks to Monday’s Rose Bowl victory, the Trojans football program and staff are now armed with extra evidence to convince recruits that USC is the place to be. The U.S. Army Game will feature commits Stephen Carr (RB – Fontana, Calif./Summit – photo above)  Hunter Echols (DE – Los Angeles, Calif./Cathedral), and Brett Neilon (OL – Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita Catholic). All three will play for the West Team.

Other West Team recruiting targets in the game include Bubba Bolden (S – Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman), Wyatt Davis (OL – Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco), Najee Harris (RB – Antioch, Calif./Antioch), Darnay Holmes (CB – Calabasas, Calif./Calabasas), Austin Jackson (OL – Phoenix, Ariz./North Canyon), K.J. Jarrell (S – Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro), Greg Johnson (CB – Los Angeles, Calif./Hawkins), Deommodore Lenoir (CB – Los Angeles, Calif./Salesian), Joseph Lewis (WR – Los Angeles, Calif./Hawkins), Foster Sarell (OL – Graham, Wash./Graham-Kapowsin), and Jay Tufele (DT – South Jordan, Utah/Bingham). Aubrey Solomon (DT – Leesburg, Ga./Lee County) will play for the East.

The Obvious: During the U.S. Army Game, there will be the expected announcements from selected recruits to announce their college choice.

The Not So Obvious: One of those scheduled to make a college announcement is superstar and hard-hitting safety Bubba Bolden from national prep powerhouse Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas. Bolden, who committed early in the process to the Trojans and then reopened his recruiting, is rumored to be back in the USC camp, but we’ll all find out Saturday morning.

The Obvious: Everybody watching the U.S. Army Game on Saturday morning will have their own recruit to focus in on.

The Not So Obvious: Aside from the commitments in action, the O/NSO will be focusing hard on offensive lineman Wyatt Davis, who is currently committed to Ohio State. With speculation that he is again reconsidering the Trojans, watching the performance of this Bellflower (Calif.) St. John Bosco big boy will be paramount. Davis looks like one of those rare players that could crack a collegiate starting lineup come next September.

The Obvious: There is some debate amongst the national recruiting gurus that winning a bowl game doesn’t have much effect on a prep player’s final selection.

The Not So Obvious: That may be true in most cases, but with the Trojans, it was crucial to win the Rose Bowl to continue to cement the positive direction of the program. There is no better momentum builder to present to recruits than an all-time Rose Bowl victory to help build the Clay Helton resume’.

The Obvious: P. J. Fleck has left Western Michigan and will become the next head coach at the University of Minnesota.

The Not So Obvious: Western Michigan is the Trojans 2017 opener (Sept. 2), a game that will be played in the Coliseum. This also means the Trojans now will be facing two-conference foes that will have first-year head coaches. The Texas Longhorns will be coming to the Coliseum next season with their new head coach Tom Herman, formerly of Houston. Now the question becomes who will be the new head coach at Western Michigan? Stay tuned.

The Obvious: One of the key moments during the late stages of Monday’s Rose Bowl Game was Penn State’s decision to throw the ball deep, which eventually was a mortal blow when Trojans safety Leon McQuay lll intercepted Trace McSorley’s pass that help set up Matt Boermeester game-winning field goal.

The Not So Obvious: After the game, Penn State coach James Franklin told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “There was discussions on the headset whether to run the ball and play for overtime, but that’s not really who we have been all year long. The problem is, you can’t turn the ball over in that situation. I think that’s the difference.”

The Obvious: One of the 2018 College Football Playoff semi-final games will be in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1.

The Not So Obvious: If the chips fall in the right places, it’s possible that the Rose Bowl could see a rematch between Penn State and the Trojans. Is your heart ready for Round 2?

The Obvious: One of the Penn State’s most effective players against the Trojans was junior wide receiver Chris Godwin (9 rec./187 yds./2 TDs).

The Not So Obvious: Following the Rose Bowl, Chris Godwin announced he will forego his senior season and apply for the NFL draft.

The Obvious: Depending on what side of the fence you’re on, it’s not hard to have a viewpoint on Monday’s Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious: The Philadelphia Inquirer writer Joe Juliano, who covers Penn State, wrote after Monday’s thrilling Rose Bowl Game, “For the first time in more than three months, the prevailing emotions spreading through a postgame Penn State locker room were sadness, anger and crushing disappointment. The Nittany Lions couldn’t help but feel any other way Monday after blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead and losing the Rose Bowl, 52-49, to Southern California. It marked the first time all season they had lost after holding a lead, and a late interception that set up the Trojans’ game-winning field goal on the last play provided a more bitter taste.”

The Obvious: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette covers both the University of Pittsburgh and the Penn State Nittany Lions.

The Not So Obvious: Following the Rose Bowl final, Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley told the Post-Gazette, “We got ourselves in a position, we just weren’t able to get that final touchdown, that final drive to be able to put the game away. We weren’t able to do that today, kept letting them hang around. You let a team like that, an offense like that hang around, they’re going to come back to bite you. They can make plays at will and they did that.”

The Obvious: There is no question that driving into the Rose Bowl and getting a parking space can be not only challenging but nerve wracking, as well.

The Not So Obvious: So how many of you were left in complete confusion when the Orange Grove off-ramp of the 210 Freeway was closed due to the parade? Despite having a parking pass for the media, our driver and the O/NSO found getting to the Rose Bowl with the Orange Grove off-ramp closed to be quite an experience or should we say journey. Apparently, the Rose Bowl parking situation has changed since the Trojans last in 2009.

The Obvious: Lynn Swann is a former USC All-America wide receiver, a member of the 1972 National Champions, and the current Trojans athletic director.

The Not So Obvious: When asked about whether the Trojans were really back in the top of “the national landscape,” Swannie basically said when his team plays on a Monday night for the national championship, he’ll consider the Trojans back. And that, my friends, is the appropriate answer, but in the meantime, no doubt things are looking up, way up.

The Obvious: Clay Helton said this week that he expects his staff to return intact unless the NFL comes calling for his assistants.

The Not So Obvious: It’s always interesting not only to see what players will leave for the NFL early, but that it also can apply to a coaching staff.   

The Obvious: One of the ways the Trojans paid tribute to the late Joe McKnight was having sophomore tailback Ronald Jones ll wear jersey No. 4 during the Rose Bowl Game.

The Not So Obvious: Another McKnight tribute was the decal “JM 4” on the back right of each Trojans helmet.

The Obvious: And finally, there were various items on the Trojans uniforms that Penn State players had to visually see during the Rose Bowl.

The Not So Obvious: Two of those items that come to mind is that on the front top above the helmet visors was a cardinal “USC” with chinstraps reading “Fight On.” The O/NSO imagines that Penn State now understand that the meaning of “Fight On!”

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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