USC players surprised by the fall of Troy in NFL draft
USC players were on the field before the NFL draft concluded Saturday, but they were still talking about the fates of former teammates when an 81-play scrimmage was over.
“Everyone fell lower than we all expected,” senior cornerback Shareece Wright said.
Safety Taylor Mays’ slip to the second round, along with his critical comments aimed at former coach Pete Carroll, was only some of the fallout. Receiver Damian Williams was the only Trojan with eligibility remaining who was selected before the fourth round.
“We feel bad for guys like that that have another year to play and leave and go on the second or third day of the draft,” Coach Lane Kiffin said.
Wright, however, was encouraged by what happened in Thursday’s first round, especially when Florida cornerback Joe Haden was selected seventh overall by the Cleveland Browns.
Four other cornerbacks were first-round picks.
“It just makes me want to work harder so I can be that guy who goes in the top 10,” said Wright, who is regarded as one of the Trojans’ top 2011 draft prospects.
Wright said he felt for Mays and Williams, who were passed over by Carroll and the Seattle Seahawks in favor of Texas defensive back Earl Thomas and Notre Dame receiver Golden Tate.
But he did not begrudge Carroll.
“It’s a business and you can’t take it personal,” Wright said.
Wright is hoping for a healthy and productive season after missing most of the last two because of a neck injury in 2008 and academic ineligibility in 2009.
The draft, he said, would take care of itself.
“If you’re the best in the nation at your position, you’re going to get drafted before the rest of the people,” he said.
On the run
Kiffin criticized the Trojans’ rushing attack after last week’s scrimmage, but he was encouraged after Saturday’s.
Senior tailback Allen Bradford said coaches showed upperclassmen film from when they were younger.
“That got us fired up,” Bradford said.
Bradford gained 89 yards in 10 carries and scored on runs of 39 and 35 yards.
“I was just working on staying on track — not trying to cut back too much and just believing in my linemen,” Bradford said.
Curtis McNeal rushed for 50 yards in 14 carries.
Said Kiffin: “We’re not at a championship level yet, but we definitely improved.”
Matt Barkley completed 11 of 20 passes for 73 yards. Mitch Mustain was 12 for 22 for 167 yards, including touchdown passes of 42 yards to David Ausberry and 10 yards to C.J. Gable. . . . Kiffin said the Trojans could experiment this week with Chris Galippo at outside linebacker. . . . Receiver Ronald Johnson, sidelined because of elbow and wrist problems, might undergo wrist surgery this week, Kiffin said. . . . Defensive lineman Armond Armstead sat out because of a bruised foot. . . . Running back Dillon Baxter (knee) did not attend practice. Coaches said he was excused to return to San Diego because a relative was hospitalized.