USC football: Recruiting played role in defensive decisions

With national signing day less than a month away, USC coach Pete Carroll acted quickly to reshape his coaching staff, promoting secondary coach Rocky Seto to the defensive coordinator position vacated earlier this week.

Carroll also announced Wednesday night that linebackers coach Ken Norton Jr. would take on the additional title of assistant head coach/defense and that former Trojans assistant Jethro Franklin would return to the staff as defensive line coach.

Seto last month turned down the opportunity to become the defensive coordinator at Washington, where former USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian is now the coach. Sarkisian initially pursued Trojans defensive coordinator Nick Holt, who at first declined before changing his mind late last week. He officially joined the Huskies staff Monday.

One of the selling points for Seto to remain at USC was the possibility of eventually becoming defensive coordinator. It happened sooner than later.

“He’s earned his way to that position,” Carroll said of Seto, whose tenure at USC goes back to 1999, exceeding Carroll’s. “He has just become a tremendously valuable guy.”

Seto will remain in the press box during games, and Carroll will continue to be the defensive play-caller.

Carroll last month gave Seto the assistant head coach/defense title that Norton now will assume. Carroll said he didn’t give Norton the new title to entice him to remain with the program. Norton’s name had been linked to the defensive coordinator opening at UCLA, his alma mater.

“It’s more of a recognition of what he’s meant to us and what he’s become,” Carroll said. “He’s a powerful character and personality in our football program, and I want to give him the opportunity to spread his influence.”

Norton and Seto are considered USC’s best recruiters among the assistant coaches. The first day high school players can sign letters of intent is Feb. 4.

A day after bringing Carl Smith back to the program as quarterbacks coach, Carroll rehired Franklin, who served as USC’s defensive line coach in 2005. Franklin spent the past three seasons in the NFL, the past two with the Houston Texans. He will share defensive line duties with David Watson, who did the same with Holt the past three seasons.

More from the USC blog:

Kyle Bunch

Partnerships for R/GA Ventures. Raised in California, adopted by Texas. Opinions expressed here are mine and they are fantastic.

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