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Methodology

There is a nice quick hit article by Ivan Maisel at ESPN.com discussing a players first season at USC and it describes John David Booty's first year experience.

When Booty arrived in Los Angeles in January 2003 from Shreveport, La., fresh from the recruiting wars, he believed he could play right away.

"Everybody's telling you how good you are and how you're going to play right away and do this and that," Booty said. "I was the same way. I wanted to come in and play. But looking back on it now, I don't think that would have been the best thing for me. I knew I could play at this level, but I wasn't ready to do it."

On the care and feeding of the high school senior who arrives in January: If the player has enough maturity to walk into a locker room full of strangers and get along, if the player can think about the senior prom he's missing without dissolving into a puddle of tears, and if he can survive without being overwhelmed by, well, a college-level football curriculum, it just might be right for him.

It is obviously not for everyone as there are no guarantees about playing time. Just ask Stafon Johnson. Talent is clearly what gets you in the door but to get on the field it takes a lot more than talent. It is easy to say hard work as that's a given but being able to dive into the football life at SC is more than being able to play, its about what happens between your ears. SC's system is proven and it gets the most out of most of the player that comes through the doors of Heritage Hall. A full immersion into the game plan is where a career is made or broken.

The challenges that Pete Carroll puts in front of his prospective recruits is what makes what them want to come to USC. The top players want the challenge and the ones who don't live up to expectations are either riding the pine or they transfer out.

Having a head start is nice but it is only the beginning.