May 29, 2008

Look for Fangupo to make an impact

It's something every college football coach wants to make when he hits the road recruiting - an impact.

However, probably the biggest part of recruiting is projecting just when that impact can happen. Every freshman who comes onto campus in June won't be ready for the opening kickoff.

But there is another route to go, recruiting's version of a trump card. You go out and sign a juco.

USC head coach Pete Carroll and his staff did just that, adding Hebron Fangupo's name to the 2009 commitment list.

Fangupo, a 6-foot-1, 330-pound defensive tackle from Mt. San Antonio College, became the Trojan's 11th commitment Wednesday night.

By offering Fangupo a scholarship, the Trojan staff realizes they have some holes on their defensive line that will need filling.

Dominating players in between the tackles on the defensive line have at times defined the Trojan defense. After losing Sedrick Ellis to the 2008 NFL Draft and Fili Moala to graduation and the 2009 Draft, the Trojans will be looking for extra help on the defensive line.

There's no guarantee that incoming freshmen Armond Armstead or Jurrell Casey will be able to fill that void on their own.

By getting Fangupo, the Trojans get a player physically mature enough to step in and compete on day one.

And thanks to an all-important factor, the likelihood Fangupo can make in the 2009 season is pretty high.

Before last season, Ole Miss (then coached by ex-Trojan assistant coach and recruiting coordinator Ed Orgeron) found itself scrambling for help at linebacker after disciplinary and graduation left the group thin.

Orgeron went on to sign a pair of junior college linebackers, all-American Tony Fein from Scottsdale C.C. and Ashlee Palmer from Compton C.C.

Palmer arrived in January and became one of the Rebels most active defenders last season as a starting outside linebacker. Palmer also. Fein arrived over the summer, never quite grasped the defense and is currently fighting for time at middle linebacker.

By getting to campus early, Palmer got familiar with Orgeron's style of play before leading the team in tackles, interceptions, pass break-ups and fumble recoveries.

Like Palmer, Fangupo is scheduled to arrive in January, giving him all of spring football to learn the Trojan system - which is almost certainly more difficult and complex than his junior college defense.

Things don't always work out with junior college prospects, but there's really not much risk by supplementing a recruiting class with a juco player or two.

It's a short-term commitment to a scholarship with the hopes of immediate dividends.

There's little question that juco players can star in college and the NFL Javon Walker, Bryant McKinney, Brandon Jacobs, Deion Branch, Joe Horn and Jeremy Shockey.

Carroll knows this too; he signed Deuce Lutui.

Whether Fangupo steps in and shines before moving on to the NFL remains to be seen.

However, that certainly seems to be the plan, and getting him on campus early for spring practice is a giant step in the right direction.

Check back with for more coverage of the Trojans' latest commitment.

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