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January 19, 2004

The Weekend Rewind

It's Pete Carroll's world and the rest of us are living in it.

After landing a Rivals.com record seventh five-star commitment this past weekend from the nation's top offensive line prospect Thomas Herring (right), the Trojans took a huge step toward securing the recruiting national championship.

The most amounts of five-star players that any other team had landed up to this point were six when both Texas and Florida State landed six five-star players in 2002. Florida had five in 2003 and Tennessee had five in 2002, but there is little doubt that Carroll's Trojans are on top of the college football and college football recruiting world.

One of the big reasons why the Trojans are No. 1 also has to do with assistant coach Ed Orgeron, who has proven himself once again as one of the best recruiters in the game.

"I'm very excited and happy to be a Trojan," Herring said.

"It's all about Coach O (Orgeron). That's my guy and the main reason I'm coming. I can't wait to play for him and be a part of the defensive line that USC has right now. Basically, I've known I wanted to go to USC for some time but I wanted to wait things out because my mom wasn't at peace with it just yet."

Herring, who is a two-way lineman that can project on either side of the ball was just one bit of good news over the weekend for the Trojans. USC also was able to re-solidify lineman Chilo Rachal and take a major step toward officially landing quarterback Rocky Hinds and defensive lineman Eugene Germany.

"It's going to be great," Herring said.

"Me, Chilo (Rachal), Rocky (Hinds) and Eugene (Germany) are all talking about being roommates when we get there next fall and I'm just pumped up to get in there and see what we all can do."

With Herring's commitment, the Trojans now hold a 400-point lead in the Rivals.com team rankings, ahead of last year's recruiting champion LSU. They're 652 points ahead of third-place Michigan and the gap is even bigger between them and fourth place Ohio State and No. 5 Texas.

HERE COMES AUBURN
After weeks of people asking where is Auburn in the recruiting wars, the Tigers took a major step forward this past weekend in their biggest recruiting weekend of the year. With more than 20 kids on campus, the Tigers were able to snag away a commitment from LSU and take a big step forward with many other commitments.

The biggest news, though, came from Morgan City (La.) Central Catholic three-star all-purpose back Jerald Watson (right), who flipped from LSU to Auburn.

"I committed to Auburn," Watson said.

"Coach Tuberville is such a straight-up guy and they told me how it was. I'm so excited. I was expecting something special to happen when I woke up this morning. I just had a real good feeling."

Watson committed during a visit with Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville but not before a little drama.

"I kind of led coach Tubs along at first," Watson explained. "We talked for a while and I told him I had a good time and I really liked Auburn. I didn't commit and then I walked out of his office.

"But then I turned around and went back in and told him I was committing," he added. "He was real excited and told me they just didn't want me but really needed me. I felt like LSU just wanted me."

The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Watson previously committed to LSU and had set up two additional visits to Mississippi State and Florida State.

"No, I'm done," Watson said of taking any more visits. "I'm 100 percent committed to Auburn. I'm so excited. They want me to come in right away as a third-down back and to help return punts and kicks."

The Tigers also did great this weekend with recruits like Rivals100 offensive lineman Leon Hart. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Hart returned with plenty of good things to say about the Tigers, who are now battling Ohio State for his commitment.

"It was a real good visit," Hart said. "I went down there wanting to see if I would fit in well with the players and coaches, and I found out they have a really good family atmosphere. I fit in real well at Auburn."

The nation's top outside linebacker Willie Williams was also impressed with the Tigers and said there is a good shot that Auburn will be right there with FSU and Miami when it comes time to make a decision.

"What really got Auburn some points for me is that their defense is the same as the one we run in high school," he added. "Two of their linebackers are leaving and I feel like I'd have a chance to come in and start."


RED RAIDERS RAID MORE TEXAS TALENT
Four players committed to Texas Tech this weekend, helping Mike Leach take a solid step forward in the battle to land his first top 25 recruiting class. After picking up the commitments this weekend, Tech is now at No. 23 in the team rankings, just ahead of Pittsburgh and Boston College.

The highlight of Tech's weekend was landing a commitment from three-star and No. 24 ranked athlete Shae Reagan (right) of Idalou, Texas.

Reagan had also visited Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and TCU and was also being recruited by Kansas State and Nebraska, but in the end picked the Red Raiders.

"It came down to Tech and TCU, and now I can not wait to be a Red Raider," Reagan said.

TIDBITS
-Texas A&M has landed its fourth top 50 junior college prospect. The Aggies picked up a commitment from Butler County (Kan.) Community College four-star linebacker Lee Foliaki. "I just talked to Stan Eggan," Butler County assistant coach Benjy Parker said. "He and Fran were in his home last night and Lee went ahead and committed to them. It's a great fit for him, because it's in the state of Texas and you now can have his family see him play."

-Texas played host to the nation's No. 10 player, quarterback Xavier Lee, this weekend, and it looks like the Horns made a good impression. "It was amazing," Lee said. "At the basketball game, at halftime I was walking down to the court and all students turned to me and held up a poster with "XL" and my picture on it. It was pretty interesting."

-The nation's No. 1 weakside defensive end Brandon Miller took trip No. 3 this weekend to Florida. The battle still looks to be between Florida State and Georgia, but the Gators did make a good impression. "It was a very good trip," his mother, Merle Miller, said. "Brandon and I went down there and had a lot of questions that we wanted answered. We wanted to know about academic support, the programs for making transition easier and what the other out of state players liked about being there. We got the questions answered and felt good about the visit."

-With a huge number of recruits on campus this weekend in Knoxville, Tenn., one of the players the Vols hoped to impress was five-star linebacker Brian Toal. So how did the Vols do? "It was great," said the 6-foot-2, 228-pounder. "I had a blast down there. I was hosted by Rick Clausen and the place is very impressive. The stadium is amazing, the facilities are awesome and the linebacker situation looks pretty good for me. They have a couple of rising seniors who are good and a few good juniors-to-be who will probably turn pro early. I could also play early if I wanted to start off at fullback."


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