USC Trojans have heavy Senior Bowl presence Print
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Thursday, 24 January 2008 12:49
NCAAF Headline News

 MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -With Pete Carroll and Lane Kiffin observing, John David Booty throwing passes and All-America defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis manhandling blockers, Senior Bowl week has seemed at times like Southern California, southern style.
The Trojans put nine players into Saturday's game, easily the most of any college team and the most since Auburn had nine in 1988. Plus, Kiffin was the Trojans' offensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator before leaving to coach the Oakland Raiders after the 2006 season.
It's just one big happy USC reunion.
``It's a neat story for them to all be here, and I'm just glad to see them all doing well,'' said Kiffin, head coach of a North team that is stocked with USC players.
Carroll was just a spectator when he attended Wednesday's practice. This time Kiffin was the boss, watching North players from various teams run plays and participate in drills.
Booty, Ellis and Co. are the ones looking to make that NFL jump Kiffin has already taken.
``It's a familiar face that I saw the first three years of my college career,'' Booty said. ``Now it's a lot different than it used to be. He used to be the one sitting next to me talking. Now he's the one kind of standing back. It's awesome just to see him and the success he's had.
``Now he's the big dog. You've got to respect that.''
Joining Booty and Ellis in the game are Trojans offensive linemen Sam Baker and Drew Radovich, tight end Fred Davis, defensive lineman Lawrence Jackson, linebacker Keith Rivers, defensive back Terrell Thomas and running back Chauncey Washington.
The week wasn't about reminiscing with Kiffin, though.
Baker said he got to visit with the coach early in the week for ``one second.''
``It's definitely convenient him coaching (here),'' Baker said.
The USC bunch alone represents the makings of a pretty impressive team. At times, Booty could be protected by, handing off to and throwing to some of the same guys that helped him lead USC to an 11-2 record and Rose Bowl victory.
``All these guys that are here are deserving, and there are a few back home that should be here as well,'' Booty said.
Carroll believes both the experience of playing for USC and participating in the Senior Bowl help prepare his players for the NFL.
``Our players have been coached like these guys coach, so it will be an easy transition for all of them,'' said Carroll, a former NFL head coach. ``I encourage my kids to come to this game. I know how important it is for them as they prepare for the draft and their careers in the NFL.''
Besides his fellow Trojans, Booty even has a former high school teammate to keep him company during a pressure-packed week. LSU running back Jacob Hester played with him at Evangel Christian High School in Shreveport, La.
They spent much of Sunday at the players' hotel watching NFL playoff games.
``We don't even talk about football,'' said Hester, who is playing for the South team. ``It's just catching up with an old friendship. We're around football so much that we just kind of put that to the side.''
Any rivalry between the two college powerhouses doesn't carry over to the Senior Bowl.
``We've always had the USC-LSU deal,'' Booty said. ``This is nothing really compared to that.''
 

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