Riverside (Calif.) four-star Ykili Ross took his first unofficial visit to USC under the bright lights of an empty Coliseum last Wednesday.
Ross, who is being recruited as an athlete by the Trojans, got his first opportunity to
watch USC practice.
“Me getting to see them actually practice in full pads and just go at
it was good,” said Ross. “It was competitive and so I really got to see
what the feeling is like, what the hype was about.
“The coaches were coaching. It was going fast. It was almost like a
game. It was good to see the players compete and to see my competition
if I was to go out there. Just getting a feel of it.”
Ross went to the USC, UCLA game in November, but this was his first
time seeing the Trojan football program without 93,000 fans sitting
next to him.
“This was my first time really seeing the realism of the
program,” said Ross. “Really the first time getting to go behind the
scenes of history, and alumi, and really seeing the details of it, not
just being there when it happens.
“So yeah, it was good. Got to see a couple other recruits there. Had a
little fun. Talked to some of the players. They looked good to.”
Freshman two-way star Adoree Jackson, who was sidelined with a foot
injury at the time, chatted with Ross and Long Beach Poly five-star
cornerback Iman Marshall for much of the scrimmage.
“I talked to him, Su’a Cravens — that’s my guy — and Bryce Dixon.
(Bryce) was just telling me how good life is and how you’re basically
just by yourself.
“Not by yourself, but it’s your own life. You’re doing what your love
at a good place where you get a good education. And the alum at USC…
it’s pretty good.”
Ross, who plays wide receiver and cornerback for Poly, watched
made his way around the Coliseum to watch both the offense and defense
go through drills before the scrimmage.
“It was nice,” said Ross. “It was good to see how fast the freshmen
come in and compete. How that transition is. It was good. They look
“From (John) Plattenburg, to JuJu (Smith) on the other side, they
looked good coming in and competing. The whole team looked like they
were competing. It was getting crazy out there a little bit, but that’s
what I like. That’s when you’re at your best.
“When you’re competing against other guys who are just as good as you,
it makes you great. That’s what I was wanting to see mostly. How they
would compete. How the coaches were going to keep it up tempo so that
At this time last year, Adoree Jackson and Juju Smith were in the
same position as Ross. As a two-way standout in high school, both had
the opportunity to attend any college in the county at wide out or
Watching Smith play wide receiver for USC Wednesday night, the wheels
began turning in Ross’ head.
“At USC, honestly, on the receiving end, I think I could go in and play
receiver,” said Ross. “On defense, I could probably play corner,
but then they already have some good corner commits, so I would just be
“I’d use my size to an advantage and be a safety that can come down in
the box and cover a slot — shut them down. I would just use my
versatility and that will get me to the top.”
Before leaving the Coliseum, Ross spoke with both USC wide
receivers coach Tee Martin and defensive backs coach Keith Heyward.
“Coach Martin was just saying don’t be afraid to score touchdowns on
offense,” laughed Ross. “They just want me as part of the family and
then they’ll go from there and see exactly how we’re going to go about
“Coach Heyward talked about me playing both (safety and cornerback), so
he didn’t really say which one. That’s where your versatility comes in.
“That’s why I feel like people who have my ability are just hybrids.
They’re great. They can come down and they can cover, quick feet, or
they can go and be safety and cover up those little slots.
“That right there makes the whole team better. You can get some rush
guys, get your linebackers coming and get a lot of sacks because I’ll
be getting a lot of interceptions. That’s an unstoppable defense.”
Ross is in the process of finalizing his official visit schedule. He
will visit Oklahoma for the Tennessee game (Sept. 13), Notre Dame for
the Stanford game (Oct. 4) and Miami for their match up with Florida State (Nov. 11).
As for his final two official visits, Ross name dropped one school
“I haven’t really thought on those just yet,” said Ross. “I’m
still thinking. Hopefully, probably, Texas A&M is still in the mix,
but I’m looking at lot of schools. I’m just thinking on it. I’m
definitely (taking visits) out of state.”
Although Ross’ unofficial visit to USC was beneficial to the Trojans,
it did not move them up on his list of favorite schools.
“They’re still there at the top with other schools like UCLA,
Notre Dame, Oklahoma and everyone else,” said Ross. “Nothing has really
changed with them.”
However, summarizing his interest in USC, Ross listed some compelling
factors that could draw him back to the Coliseum for the next four
“Just the competing,” said Ross. “The tradition, the alumni and just
the school. It’s just intriguing. It’s like, wow, who wouldn’t go be a
Trojan, you know? It’s like that.
“The coaching is good, the players are cool and I know some of them.
USC is a good institution. It’s somewhere big where I could go, and if
football doesn’t work, I could get a job real easy.”
Back from SC, Ross sets three officials
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