As originally promised on signing day, and promised again last week, and promised again over the weekend, massively hyped offensive line recruit Seantrel Henderson is officially a Trojan after signing his letter of intent with USC on Tuesday. But coach Lane Kiffin (finally able to refer to Henderson by name as a signee, rather than "that left tackle") was quick to refocus Trojan fans on the real story here — namely, Lane Kiffin’s recruiting prowess:
"We’re excited to have received Seantrel’s signed letter of intent. This is the final piece of putting together the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class. We’re looking forward to having all of our recruits come in and compete for playing time with our returning players.
"We have now been fortunate for the last two years to have our staff sign the nation’s No. 1 player. This signing is once again indicative of the power of USC and what it means to play here. …"
I’m not sure if it’s a sign of the times when a major head coach directly references the oft-mocked and always publicly ignored rankings by very unofficial recruiting Web sites, or just a sign of Lane Kiffin’s ego. (Note that he’s choosing selectively: USC’s class is only No. 1 according to the fine folks at Rivals. The gurus at other major sites don’t rank the Trojans’ incoming crop no higher than fourth, and as low as seventh. Rivals isn’t the only site that ultimately ranked Florida-bound defensive end Ronald Powell ahead of Henderson as its No. 1 player, either, more evidence of the imprecise nature of the process on the micro scale. But such distinctions are trivialities to the ancient art of self-promotion.)
Though Kiffin is obligated to cite "the power of USC," the other half of his reference to "sign[ing] the nation’s No. 1 player" in consecutive offseasons is obviously to running back Bryce Brown at Tennessee, an undeniable coup at the time, but one that apparently isn’t going to help Tennessee at all after Brown left the team last week with 616 total yards and four garbage-time touchdowns to his name — a departure that quite possibly stemmed in part from some lingering issues with Kiffin, and whatever the unproven coach said or promised to lure Brown to a school that hadn’t been on his radar at all before Kiffin’s arrival. But it did help bolster the resumé of Lane Kiffin and Staff, Ace Recruiters. Priorities, people.