Saturday, November 26, 2005

Senior Bowl CEO Scouts Trojans

There was an unfamiliar face at USC practice last week, but he had a good reason for being there. Steve Hale, CEO of the Senior Bowl, was in Los Angeles to get a good look at the Trojans' senior class.

Part all-star game, part pre-draft showcase, the Senior Bowl features many of college football's top players. They're split into two teams, each coached by an entire NFL coaching staff and put through a week's worth of workouts. At the end of the week, they face off in Mobile, Alabama's Ladd-Peebles Stadium. This year, that game will be held on January 28th, 2006.

"We only take players who have completely exhausted their eligibility," said Hale in an exclusive interview. "There doesn't need to be any more incentive for players to leave college early than there already are."

But first, those players need to be selected, which is why Hale is visiting college campuses across the country.

"A certain cap is made for each position and from there we choose the best players, until the cap is reached," he said. "Unfortunately this method creates inconsistency, since each year the number of seniors varies per school. For example, this year there will be a disproportionate amount of players from the Deep South just because there are a great deal more talented seniors graduating."

Trojans eligible for the Senior Bowl include Frostee Rucker, Justin Wyatt, Taitusi Latui, Dominique Byrd, Scott Ware, John Walker and David Kirtman. Matt Leinart is also eligible but not likely to accept an invitation; he is already projected as a top pick and not expected to risk injury by playing in the game.

Even with plenty of players to scout, Hale said he tried to fly under the radar and keep his presence at practice from becoming a distraction.

"I know that Pete [Carroll] doesn't want to focus on anything except his next game, so I'm not going to put any pressure on him about the [Senior Bowl]. He had other things on his mind."

UPDATE: We've moved! To view up-to-date postings, go to: