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Pete Carroll's former USC players now emerging for Seahawks

Carroll's draft picks from USC are paying dividends as Malcolm Smith, Anthony McCoy and Mike Morgan have begun to flourish.

Jeff Gross

When Pete Carroll was named head coach of the Seahawks in January of 2010, skeptics of the hire felt that Carroll was going to simply turn the franchise into a "USC of the North" and fill the team's roster with his former players.

But it was Carroll's time at USC that allowed him to bring in late-round draft picks who are now filling key roles for the 8-5 Seahawks, writes Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times.

Anthony McCoy, a former Trojan under Carroll, has 16 receptions and two touchdowns on 23 targets. That may not sound impressive at first glance, but when keeping in mind how little the Seahawks rely on the passing game, and that McCoy is the team's second-string tight end, his value is evident.

Another USC player, Malcolm Smith, has been a fixture on special teams throughout his time in Seattle. He's now making a push to become a regular, and possibly a starter, on the Seahawks' defense.

A third former Trojan, Mike Morgan also is making an impact in Seattle.

From O'Neil:

McCoy, who caught three passes for 105 yards, was chosen in the sixth round in 2010 while Smith, who started at weakside linebacker and scored a special-teams touchdown, was a seventh-round pick a year ago.

While they're good players and great draft picks, those aren't exactly the kind of high-profile Trojans that people expected Carroll to begin collecting in the NFL. Remember when all it took was a bit of shared history for people to assume that Carroll wanted to sign Matt Leinart or trade for Reggie Bush? And when it came to the draft, everyone just assumed that he would start picking the players he had previously convinced to pick USC.

Except he passed on safety Taylor Mays his first year in town, and chose not to pick a speed rusher like Everson Griffen in 2011 or Nick Perry last year. He has notably cut some former Trojans, too, like running back LenDale White, receiver Mike Williams and most notably Lofa Tatupu.

Carroll's late-round draft pick and free agent success stories haven't only come with his former players. Safety Kam Chancellor and cornerback Richard Sherman were fifth-round picks, and 2011's leading receiver was undrafted free agent Doug Baldwin.

But the spotlight will always remain on the Trojan alums Carroll brings to the Northwest, and so far, that's worked out just fine.