Pac-12: Khaliel Rodgers


The Pac-12 has 26 of the 98 early entrants in the NFL draft. That’s impressive. Some players are locks to get drafted. Others might have jumped the gun a bit and find themselves on practice squads or brushing up on their Canadian. We’ll see.

What we’re more concerned about here is who is going to replace them. Some answers are clearer than others. Some teams might have to alter their schemes just to account for a departed player.

Here’s a look at the possible replacement players in the Pac-12 South. We’ll look at the North later this morning.

Leaving: Ka'Deem Carey, RB, Arizona.

The replacement: Jared Baker should be in the mix, though an injury will keep him out of spring ball. He’s expected to return in time for fall camp. Pierre Cormier and Zach Green will also get looks. Speaking with folks at Arizona, the word right now is that it’s wide open. One player could emerge, or it could end up being a by-committee approach. Nothing is off the table at this point.

Leaving: Carl Bradford, LB, Arizona State

The replacement: There really isn’t anyone who has Bradford’s skill set in the program yet, so the position is wide open. Viliami Latu has potential. So does Chans Cox, who was hurt a lot last season. They are also excited about incoming freshman Ismael Murphy-Richardson. He might not be ready to jump in immediately, but he could be the Devil backer by 2015.

[+] EnlargeRichardson
Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY SportsColorado will have a hard time replacing the explosive plays that Paul Richardson provided.
Leaving: Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado

The replacement: It was probably going to be Jeff Thomas before he transferred. Now it’s probably going to be a rotation of D.D. Goodson, Devin Ross, or redshirt freshmen Bryce Bobo or Elijah Dunston. Nelson Spruce has been solid, but he’s not the breakaway threat Richardson was. This will be a key spring battle to watch.

Leaving: Xavier Su'a-Filo, OL, UCLA

The replacement: Simon Goines should be back after starting six games at left tackle before an injury forced him out. Scott Quessenberry stepped in and played five games at left guard, which is where he’ll likely be next season with Goines back at tackle.

Leaving: Dion Bailey, LB, USC

The replacement: Leon McQuay III saw some playing time and is very highly regarded by the coaching staff. His contributions last season were mostly on special teams, but he’ll take on a larger role with Bailey’s departure.

Leaving: Marqise Lee, WR, USC

The replacement: Remember George Farmer? He’s still around and could be in for a big season if healthy. Darreus Rogers and Steven Mitchell both are promising, but both have missed time with injury. You never truly replace a Biletnikoff winner, but playing opposite a surging Nelson Agholor could help boost the production of whoever gets in the regular rotation.

Leaving: George Uko, DT, USC

The replacement: Transfer Delvon Simmons is coming off a redshirt season, as is freshman Kenny Bigelow. Both should get some serious looks, as this will be one of the hot position battles this spring. Someone will ultimately win the job, but expect a rotation with both next season.

Leaving: Marcus Martin, C, USC

The replacement: Lots of ifs here. It could be Max Tuerk moving over from guard, but he’ll also be in the mix for right tackle to replace Kevin Graf. Khaliel Rodgers redshirted and is an option at guard or center. Giovanni Di Poalo could also get a look.

Leaving: Xavier Grimble, TE, USC

The replacement: Grimble and Randall Telfer were basically co-starters, so all this probably means is Telfer’s workload increases as he becomes the clear No. 1. Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick is the only other scholarship tight end on the roster.

Leaving: Jake Murphy, TE, Utah

The replacement: Westlee Tonga seems like the logical fit. He has been around for a few years and has some experience, but was injured most of last year. He’ll get another opportunity to be the lead tight end in the newest installment of Utah’s offense.
Recruiting is out of control.

Surely you heard the big news today. Kevin Gemmell, who is supposed to be sharing the Pac-12 blog with me going forward, has committed to Oregon -- for the class of 2017, reportedly because joining the Ducks seemed like a cool way to celebrate his 40th birthday.

And that paragraph is only slightly more fantastical and fatuous and phony than this recent uptick in middle schoolers committing to big-time programs.

The latest is this: Rising eighth grade quarterback Tate Martell of San Diego has "committed" to Washington.

And by "committed," we mean an exchange took place with all the depth and meaning of a pronouncement of affection from a Kardashian.

This really has nothing to do with a recent trend in recruiting. It has to do with a recent trend of attention grabs and a belief in the awesomeness of any sort of publicity.

Martell might end up at Washington. And he might end up at Eastern Washington. Or he might end up playing baseball. Or deciding he prefers theater. Or he may join the circus. Nothing he does in football this year matters. And, really, nothing he does until his junior season of high school matters.

The only way he gets a scholarship to play football at Washington is if he proves to be good enough when he is a mature high school player. And, along the way, he might decide he'd rather play for Michigan, Texas, Oregon State or Florida.

My point: Nothing in the universe of college football changed today. Martell is no closer to a football scholarship to Washington than he was yesterday, nor is he bound in any way to go to Washington.

I wrote the same when David Sills committed to USC as a 13-year-old in 2010. Utterly meaningless. I continue to believe the odds are remote that Sills will ever play quarterback at USC.

So why does this happen? The best answer is also the worst: Why not? Just because a gesture is meaningless doesn't mean it won't produce a momentary media tempest in a teapot.

The other answer is this: Steve Clarkson, prep quarterbacks guru, loves publicity. And he's the common denominator here. From the ESPN.com story:
While the early commitment certainly caught most of the college football world off guard, Clarkson said plenty of thought went into it from Martell and his family. The 14-year-old is close with Sills, who made a commitment to USC as he was entering the eighth grade.

"The family followed that situation," Clarkson said. "He's seen how that unfolded. But that's kind of the trend. The landscape has changed."

No, it hasn't. It matters not a whit what these guys look like now.

Steve Clarkson
Kevin ShepardHigh school QB guru Steve Clarkson has tutored Tate Martell and David Sills, very early commitments both.
Clarkson has the respect of many folks in football. His track record is strong tutoring quarterbacks. He's a proven commodity. But he's also a businessman. He knows this story sells him more than anything else. And, well, feel free to read into what Clarkson calls himself on his website: "Dream maker."

While many folks slap their foreheads over 13- and 14-year-olds "committing" to big-time college sports teams, there also are a number of, er, highly involved daddies and mommies who are looking at their cherished little sprout as he tosses a Nerf ball around the living room thinking, "I got to get me some Steve Clarkson!"

From Mitch Sherman's story:
According to Clarkson, it's the wave of the future. Athletes are more specialized today, often spending three times as many hours per year on football than the players of a generation ago. They ought to be ready to make such decisions much earlier, he said.

"The next time a sixth- or seventh-grader commits," Clarkson said, "you've already been doused with the frozen water, so the shock is gone."

Clarkson said programs like his, which identify and groom quarterbacks barely into their teens, are growing in prominence as high school football loses some of its power in recruiting.

Let me tell you something without an iota of doubt: No, this is not the wave of the future. An annual blip? Sure. A trickle? OK. No wave here, though. Mostly because it makes no sense to conduct business this way. For one, so much can change in five years. For example, one of the reasons Martell liked Washington was that former quarterback Jake Locker was his favorite player. Well, what happens is Locker never pans out in the NFL? Will that thinking still hold for Martell?

So, you say, what do Lane Kiffin and Steve Sarkisian get out of this? Ah, glad you asked. For one, they have nothing to lose. But recruiting is a spiderweb of intrigue. The public looks at one spot getting touched and don't take note of more notable vibrations elsewhere.

Kiffin, you might already have deduced, is crazy-smart like a fox in recruiting.

Guess who Sills just happens to be teammates and good buddies Insider with? Kenny Bigelow, the No. 2 defensive tackle in the country, who is committed to USC for the 2013 class, and Khaliel Rodgers, a four-star offensive guard who also is committed to USC in 2013. Now those are two meaningful commitments.

How connected are these three guys? When Red Lion Christian Academy in Bear, Del., decided to to become more of a school with a football team than a football team with a school, all three transferred Insider to Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy.

Some might counter that Kiffin didn't know about these two in 2010 when Sills committed. Fine. My response: Kiffin is crazy-smart like a fox in recruiting. Funny how this is working out so well for him, eh?

Yes, recruiting is out of control. It has been for some time. But the next wave isn't 13-year-olds committing. Something irrelevant can be quirky or even interesting and inspire some media rubbernecking, but it ultimately will fail to hold sway in a high-stakes game based on a real-live bottom line.

WeAreSC links: One down, one to go?

July, 11, 2012
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Blair Angulo writes Insider: It didn't take long for Elkton, Md., offensive lineman Khaliel Rodgers to jump on a scholarship offer from USC, as the four-star prospect committed to the Trojans on Wednesday afternoon.

Blair Angulo writes Insider: Bellflower, Calif., offensive lineman Nico Falah will make his college choice Wednesday evening, and it's shaping up to be an inter-city battle.

WeAreSC links: Day before camp

June, 25, 2012
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Greg Katz writes Insider: With a run to the national title game in 2012 USC would be poised to be a dominant force if the BCS four-team format comes to fruition.

Garry Paskwietz writes Insider: Khaliel Rodgers, Michael Hutchings and Max Redfield are three prospects to watch during USC's Rising Stars camp Tuesday and Wednesday.

WeAreSC links: Horsing around

June, 4, 2012
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Greg Katz writes Insider: In an exclusive interview, the Trojans' current mascot, Traveler VII, spills all about the history of equine mascots at USC.

Erik McKinney writes Insider: Concord, Calif., linebacker Michael Hutchings has had USC as his leader from the jump. But a visit to Washington this past weekend has him rethinking his list and timetable.

WeAreSC mailbag Insider: Garry Paskwietz answers reader questions about Justin Davis, Khaliel Rodgers and the importance of preferred walk-ons due to scholarship limits.

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