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Pac-10's best recruiting closer? Pete Carroll

9/7/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

LOS ANGELES -- Best recruiting closer in the Pac-10? Shoot, USC coach Pete Carroll is the best recruiting closer in the nation.

Why?

Two reasons.

For one, a lot of time he doesn't have to close. Many prep All-American prospects -- not only from southern California but from all over the country -- just want to play for USC. Playing for a powerhouse in the middle of Los Angeles is alluring for many elite, young athletes.

How did Carroll lure Joe McKnight out of Louisiana to USC?

"I always knew I was going to USC," McKnight said. "Once he gave me a scholarship, I told him I was going to commit. He didn't have to win me over."

But Carroll annually signs a top-10 -- more often top-five -- class, so there's got to be more than just getting guys who want to be Trojans.

Part of that, Carroll said, is making sure your message gets through and sticks, no matter how other teams recruit against USC.

"You stick with the truth and make sure the truth is still standing there at the end of the process and it hasn't been clouded," Carroll said. "Your opponents will do everything they can to cloud the issue. You just have to stick with it and be persistent. And we don't roll over easy on these deals. We fight like crazy to make sure everything we needed to get a cross gets across."

Other schools use the Trojans' depth chart against them, pointing out how hard it will be to earn playing time. Yet, Carroll is often able to reverse that and tap into a prospect's competitive spirit.

"Everybody sells that against us," Carroll said. "If a guy is bothered by that, he goes somewhere else. The guys who know they are going to play are the guys who come here."

And Carroll's track record is good. Despite the depth on the roster, true freshman annually get playing time. Five of the Trojans' 18 signees from the 2009 recruiting class saw action in the opener against San Jose State.

"They're going to play as freshmen unless there's some reason they can't," Carroll said. "Every single year over half our guys play as freshman."