A national brand

USC could make a strong claim to be “America’s Team.”

The Trojans have become the antithesis of a provincial program, as the roster and, most notably, the starting lineup are loaded with players from around the country.

Nine of the Trojans’ 22 starting roles are filled by players from out of state, continuing a recent trend of USC putting non-Californians in prominent positions to contribute. This season marks the third straight where nine starters — 41 percent of the starting lineup — came to USC from out of state.

“We’ve always had tremendous success with out-of-state kids,” Coach Carroll said. “When we recruit out of state, we’re looking for the top guy in that state.”

This season, the out-of-state starters are wideouts Ronald Johnson (Michigan) and Damian Williams (Arkansas); offensive linemen Jeff Byers (Colorado) and Kristofer O’Dowd (Arizona); fullback Stanley Havili (Utah); tailback Joe McKnight (Louisiana); defensive end Everson Griffen (Arizona); linebacker Michael Morgan (Texas); and safety Taylor Mays (Washington). In all, 27 players on the 2009 roster hail from out of state.

And the success of non-Californian Trojans doesn’t end at USC. In the last four NFL drafts, 10 out-of-state Trojans have been selected.

“We always say in recruiting that we’re going after out-of-state players who will be No. 1 NFL draft picks down the road,” Carroll said. “And for the most part, we’ve been pretty close through the years.”

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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