Mission Viejo (Calif.) center Cole Smith took an unofficial visit to USC Monday knowing he had the potential of spending four years of his life there.
Just before arriving on campus, Smith was offered a scholarship by
offensive line coach Tim Drevno and head coach Steve Sarkisian.
“They actually told me I had an offer before I got there, and that they
were having people commit as soon as possible,” said Smith. “That was
kind of thrown on me real fast.
“Coach Drevno was kind of pushing me to commit, but Coach Sarkisian was
more understanding of the process. I kind of got the good cop, bad cop
thing. But I wasn’t ready to commit.”
Smith went to the USC Linemen Camp on June, where he worked out as a
center for the Trojans coaching staff.
“I actually went to their camp last year, but they changed coaching
staffs, so that was kind of a bummer for me,” said Smith. “I went to
the camp again this summer, but they said they really only wanted to
recruit offensive tackles for this class.
“I went there and competed real hard, but they weren’t sure they wanted
a center. What they usually do is recruit a guard type and then move
them to center.
“But they think Max Tuerk might leave early to the league, so they
think I would be a good addition. Maybe he could mentor me for a year
and then have me take that spot.”
Smith has pretty strong family ties to USC, and the school’s alumni
base also is a big draw for the 6-foot-3, 255-pouf center prospect.
“I grew up a Southern California boy, so my dad coached there and my
sister went there,” said Smith. “USC has always been a big school for
“The thing I like about USC, which not a lot of schools have, is the
alumni network. There are so many connections and loyalty. Even if
football doesn’t work out there are a lot of people that will help you
get to where you want to be.
“But UCLA and USC are so competitive now, it’s going to be a tough
decision to make. I don’t know what I’m going to do, truthfully.”
Smith appears at face value as a Trojan legacy, and while he may very well
end up committing to USC sooner rather than later, he is taking his
time with the process.
“The pressure to commit is a little bit off, so I’m just going to
commit when I feel right,” said Smith. “I was going to wait to see how
the season played out, but I don’t know if USC wants to put a timetable
on the offer.”
Smith also has some interest in Stanford, but with no scholarship offer
and the prospect of cramming more classes into his already busy schedule,
USC and UCLA stand out as his two favorites.
UCLA offered Smith a scholarship right after their own linemen camp in
June. The Bruins decisive move to recruit Smith still lingers as a
positive for UCLA.
“They offered me so fast, it took USC a little while to figure things
out,” said Smith. “I’ve loved USC for so long, but they didn’t have the
confidence in me UCLA did.”
When Smith made it to USC’s campus Monday, he watched the Trojans’
offensive closely. At center is a rotation of Max Tuerk, Toa Lobendahn
and Viane Talamaivao.
“What they did tell me is that they usually have guards that move to
center, but this whole training camp its been a pain for them to
convert guys to center,” said Smith. “They want the center breed, Coach
Sarkisian kept saying.
“The rotation is giving them a little bit a trouble. They want a guy who
is more comfortable playing center. Whether it means calling plays or
just having your hand on the ground the whole time.”
Having seen USC in fall camp, Smith may still take a visit to UCLA in
the coming weeks to give the Bruins another look.
“I saw the practices fields during their camp, but I didn’t really get
to tour the facilities that much,” said Smith. “I feel like I got a
good understanding of what USC is about, so I think I need to see UCLA
again before I have a better understand of what I want to do.”
Smith gets big offer, but no commitment yet
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