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The Decision to Stay

With USC having 7 players taken in the first two rounds of the 2008 NFL draft a strong message was sent that by staying in school you increase your future draft stock. Now I'm not naïve not every player will benefit from the full 4 years and some players are just too good not to leave early but for the majority of college players its pretty clear that by staying the positives will out weigh the negatives.

Character had a lot to do with those players taken in the first round. Character matters and regardless of what his detractors have said Pete Carroll has recruited and developed players that stay focused. It hasn't been perfect but he has done a pretty good job in that area. Think the positives out weigh the negatives? The numbers don't lie:

How much is a final year of college worth?

For USC nose tackle Sedrick Ellis, linebacker Keith Rivers, offensive tackle Sam Baker and defensive end Lawrence Jackson, all of whom were selected in the first round of the NFL draft Saturday, it could amount to more than $43 million.

That's about how much guaranteed money the players taken in the same slots in 2007 were collectively assured when they signed contracts last year.

On a day when a school-record seven USC players were chosen in the first two rounds, the four Trojans who passed up the chance to turn pro after their junior seasons hit the first-round jackpot.

"I'm hoping everyone who takes a look at this, whether it's our guys or other guys, that they see there is clear information to play that final season," Coach Pete Carroll said. "They make more money, not to mention that they are more mature to make that first impression."

Kind of hard to argue with that, I realize that is not for everyone but for the most part staying all four years at program like USC will increase your marketability and draft stock when you go to the next level. There simply isn't a better example in college football as to why you should stay in school. Imagine if White, Jarrett, Matua, Bing or Justice stayed the extra year. Imagine the possibilities for these guys at the next level with that extra year. Imagine what could have been for SC had they stayed.

Pete Carroll envisioned this type draft success when he took the program over in 2001 but the key to that success was to have the players stay the full four years.

It seems like years ago, when we first sat around with the first group of guys, what we hoped was to make the mark of having four or five guys in the first round," Carroll said. "That's what we had seen was possible when schools have a good run. We're right in the middle of that and we're proud of it."

On a day when no other school had more than two players taken in the first round, four Trojans heard their names called: defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis (seventh to New Orleans), linebacker Keith Rivers (ninth to Cincinnati), tackle Sam Baker (21st to Atlanta) and defensive end Lawrence Jackson (28th to Seattle).

Three more USC players were taken in the second round: guard Chilo Rachal (39th to San Francisco), tight end Fred Davis (48th to Washington) and cornerback Terrell Thomas, the final pick of the day (63rd to the New York Giants).

"The guys who came back for their senior year were rewarded for their hard work," Jackson said in a phone interview. "It's a great day for the school."

You bet it was great day for USC. This is one of the best recruiting tools the program could have had at their disposal. When you come to SC you can count on a number of things, the opportunity to compete, play in a sophisticated pro-style offense and if you stay all 4 years the very distinct possibility of being drafted high in the NFL. Of course there are no guarantees but I think Pete Carroll's record speaks for itself.

Of course there were the nay sayers that I got a kick out reading. Some of the USC detractors out there like Florio over at Pro Football Talk made me chuckle:

There's a growing sense in some league circles that incoming players from the University of Southern California merit extra scrutiny during the endless buildup to the draft.

The concern is that too many of the players who emerge from the Trojan program love the SoCal lifestyle more than they love football.

Though it's always dangerous to generalize (but what the hell, we'll do it anyway), there have been a surprising number of busts to emerge from Pete Carroll's no-pay (by the school) paradise.

In 2003, the Trojans sent a trio of solid players into the league: Carson Palmer, Troy Polamalu, and Justin Fargas. Since then, however, the only guy who has proven to be a consistent high-end talent is linebacker Lofa Tatupu. The growing parade of busts includes Keary Colbert, Shaun Cody, Mike Patterson, Mike Williams, Darnell Bing, Dominique Byrd, Frostee Rucker, Winston Justice, Reggie Bush (relative to his draft status and hype), and Dwayne Jarrett.


Clearly this guy didn't do his homework, as Patterson is one of the top DT's in the League. Cody has done OK playing in Detroit but then again its Detroit and its not like Matt Millen is doing a stellar job up there (drafting 3 WR in 3 consecutive years). Also, looking at that list you can see that most of players listed didn't stay through their senior years reinforcing what Pete Carroll has been about staying all four years.

What about Ryan Kalil? What about Steve Smith? I'm sure there are others I am missing (Udeze?). By not mentioning those two guys as players who have either performed (Smith in last years play-offs) or put themselves in a position to be leaders early (Kalil who will probably start this season) it exposes Florio as a detractor and not to be taken seriously. He is entitled to his opinion but without a more balanced look at what the program has accomplished in the Pete Carroll era he loses all credibility and its just noise.

If he wants to use the SoCal lifestyle reference he might want to look in the general direction of Westwood where the players bail on practice as they are installing a new offence. New coach or not, it seems like those guys deserve a lot more scrutiny than least SC has won something.

Others were those who wanted to chide SC that with all this talent how did we lose to Stanford? You're kidding me right? Time to get over it people, a new season is upon us and we can't go back and change the past. Yes it was disappointing, yes it pissed a lot of us off and I could see where some would say we underachieved but it is what it is and its waaaaay in the past so its time to let it go.

Yesterday sent a very strong message about staying in school. It also sent a message that USC is the place to be if you want a shot at the NFL.

Something tells me that message was received loud and clear!