With this upcoming weekend is open on the itinerary, four-star prospect Tayler Katoa could be making a quick turnaround to Los Angeles for an official visit to UCLA, a school he visited in the spring and had been hoping for an offer from during the season.
"Coach (Scott) White contacted me recently and told me he wants me to get out there for an official," Katoa said. "That's not set yet but I should know here in the next couple days."
For Katoa, it didn't take long for the intrigue of a recent Trojans scholarship offer to take over and he made sure to quench that feeling this past weekend with an official visit to campus. Katoa took in the Trojans' rivalry matchup against Notre Dame, spent time getting to know coaches and players, and returned home with a better understanding of the things USC has to offer.
"It was just an awesome trip," Katoa told Scout.com. "I really enjoyed the campus, the coaches and the culture there. It was cool to see such a big, historic program up close. It was awesome. It all happened really quickly, but I'm glad the opportunity came and I was able to get out there.
"It is definitely one of my top schools, definitely in the top four right now. It was my first time to USC and it was fun being there for a gameday, especially on such a big rivalry weekend. Just seeing how much support the fans showed and how much everyone there loves USC through the rain, it was cool being there to see the coaches and players interacted."
USC, having to make up some ground given that it just extended a scholarship offer on Nov. 14, did enough to answer all of Katoa's questions. He is a midyear enrollee so his process was already accelerated, yet the Trojans did everything to eliminate any disadvantages.
"The thought is similar to a lot of other schools -- they want me to fill a pure inside linebacker spot," Katoa said. "I would be blitzing from different gaps, both on the inside and outside, just depending on the play calls and stuff like that. I loved what I heard and I would be more than willing to play that.
"My host was Josh Imatorbhebhe and I definitely got the sense that academics there are tough, which is a good thing. I didn't realize USC was such an academic school because when you think USC, you think big-time football. They are super academic and I got a good perspective from Josh -- he said it's a challenge, but they have all the help in the world there. I liked what I heard there, too."
It was the second time the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Katoa got to see USC in action this season after being in the stands for the upset victory against the Huskies in Seattle. This time, though, Katoa got to meet up with head coach Clay Helton to hear about the long-term goals and what it takes to be a part of the program.
"Coach Helton wasn't really putting a lot of pressure on me. He's an awesome guy and I'm really glad I got to meet him and sit down with him a couple times throughout the weekend," Katoa said. "His main message was that from their perspective, they want their guys to be 100 percent committed to USC. He doesn't want guys that are 99 percent. He wants those that are 100 percent coming in so that it's the right fit for everyone. He wants people that want to be there.
"They didn't really push for a commitment. There was no pressure and they were very respectful in that way. They stated facts and talked to me about their situation at linebacker, and I am a mid-year so they know I'll be making my decision soon. Everyone will be getting the answer soon. They were cool about it."
Katoa said he has scheduled his official visit to Utah for the weekend of Dec. 9. The defensive coaches from Utah stopped by Katoa's home for a visit on Sunday. He said he has meetings lined up with Washington for Tuesday and USC on Wednesday, and things could get even more interest if he lands an offer from the Bruins and ends up on campus this coming weekend.
"I know I'll be announcing a decision a few days after my last official visit, maybe on the 11th or 12th of December," Katoa said. "I'm still trying to figure all that out."
Katoa plans to attend his first year of college before deciding whether to take an LDS mission.