The family connection

Family can be a strong bond, especially in athletics. Oregon State signed Whitfield Usher in June of 2003 after he failed to qualify to play ball at Stanford. Two years later, the Beavers may sign another Usher. <br><br> One of the top wide receiver prospects in California happens to be Whitfield's younger brother Austin Usher and the talented player has OSU on top of his short list right now.

"Right now I like Oregon State, UCLA, USC, Michigan and Florida State," Usher told "Those are the schools I would like to take my official visits to."

Oregon State holds a slight lead over UCLA right now due to the family connection. “My brother plays there (Oregon State) and we are real close, and always dreamed of playing in college together," the talented player said. "Though that doesn't mean I'll go there."

"He (Whitfield) is telling me about the whole recruiting process, since he went through it before,” Austin said.

Despite giving the Beavers the slight edge, UCLA is nudging closer to the top of his list. "I've been to UCLA a couple of times and they are really close to home," he said. "Plus, they have the best situation for me playing time-wise right now."

Following the Pac-10 schools is Michigan. "I've liked Michigan all my life," Usher said. "I like the atmosphere in the stadium, the band, the crowd, the colors, everything."

In spite of the attention from two Pac-10 schools he has yet to receive an offer from either. But the 6-foot-3, 198-pound player carries a 2.8 GPA and expects to be offered by UCLA and OSU after he takes the SAT in March.

Usher started to make a name for himself last spring during the Southern California Nike Combine where he ran a 4.4 forty and a 4.19 shuttle. He solidified his position as a future Division I player after his junior season when he hauled in 21 passes for 600 yards and 12 touchdowns while also returning kick-offs for Jefferson High School Indians.

“I had a pretty good season last year, but I expect next year to be even better, because I hope to be stronger and faster,” said Usher who also runs track (100-meter dash) and plays on the basketball team.

His high school coach Doi Johnson had high praise for his tough receiver. "We play in one of the toughest leagues in the State of California," Jefferson said. "There was one time against Dorsey when Austin ran back a kick-off and just got nailed."

"He was hit so hard I didn't think he would get up, but he bounced right back like nothing happened and played the next series. He's a tough kid.

"He is very quick in his acceleration and his start and stop is instantaneous."

While Johnson did have high praise for his talented receiver, he also noted that Usher has some room for improvement. "He runs high in his routes," Johnson said. "He makes a big target so we'll be working on having him setting his shoulder pads down."

Johnson also wants to use Usher as a safety his senior year. "He is so talented we need to get him on the field so he can help us the most," he said.

Usher wants to take his time making his college choice even with the brother connection in Corvallis and the family connection in Los Angeles. “I think I want to take all of my trips, see what’s out there, and then make a decision,” he said.

Usher plans to participate in several Nike and team camps, including Oregon State’s and UCLA’s, during the summer.

BruinReportOnline and GoBlueWolverine contributed to this article.

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