Ross a cornerstone commitment for USC

SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Riverside (Calif.) four-star Army All-American Ykili Ross commits to USC on national television adding a dynamic two-way threat to the Trojans roster. Ross chose USC over Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Arizona State and Oregon Saturday.

Ykili Ross maybe USC’s newest commitment, but the four-star cornerback’s passion for Trojan football was established long ago.

Making his announcement for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Saturday from the Alamodome, Ross has known where he wanted to play college football well before he arrived in Texas.

Ross’ commitment, and the feelings behind his pledge, are that of a cornerstone recruit for the USC football program.

“This was about me representing the West Coast, me keeping my talents home and me bring the roots of USC football back,” said Ross. “I want to use this opportunity to bring the change, the culture of winning national championships back.

“With all of my family being a big part of it, especially my dad, this was important to me. My dad was gone a lot of my life. He’s only been back for about six years. It’s been great having him back.

“This decision has brought us closer, and I could never choose to play somewhere else. I would rather stay home and get the full joy of seeing my dad see his kid play at his dream college.”

By April, Ross had almost a dozen scholarship offers before USC brought him in for an unofficial visit and offered him the opportunity to become a Trojan.

And although USC was playing from behind in Ross’ recruitment, other schools competing against the Trojans for the Army All-American’s interest didn’t see it that way.

“At first I wasn’t really keyed in on a USC offer,” said Ross. “Maybe my dad was, but neither of us really knew if we were going to get one. I just took the process in, and early on, UCLA was definitely a contender.

“But after a certain time, something that really set them apart was the USC hype. People believe the USC hype. What I mean by that is; when you’re a really, really good football player in Southern California, people want to know if you’re USC good.

“That’s where the recruiting thing is all messed up. You’re recruiting me for your school, you’re not recruiting me for USC. But the first thing a lot of schools started talking to me about was USC, USC, USC.

“It’s like, why are you worried about USC? Why does USC even come up in our conversation like that? I started to eliminate schools because of that. Then I started to realize why USC gets that hype. When I got comfortable with it all, I knew I wanted to represent where I’m from.”

The 2015 recruiting class will be the first full recruiting class USC has had since 2011. Now clear of sanctions, many of the recruits stepping on campus next fall see this class as a potential turning point for the football program.

Ross is a catalyst in returning USC to its former glory just a decade ago.

“Oh my gosh,” said Ross. “This is going to be the first class USC has that will really open up the eyes of the country” said Ross. “This is the first opportunity USC has had to really get back on a major run.

Alabama has been on a run for like, what, six straight years? Well, they’re in for a rude awakening. It’s great to have my name a part of that. I just want to represent the West Coast.

“I have a ‘California’ tattooed on my arm. I have strong California ties and those are my roots. That is where I want to be for the rest of my life. I couldn’t do it any better than staying home and playing for the Trojans.”

Living in Southern California for four-stars is a selling point for most recruits looking at USC, but Ross approached his decision with a longterm view of life beyond football.

“When I went on my official visit, I met with the dean,” said Ross. “He asked me, ‘Do you know what USC really stands for?’ He told me it stands for University of Super Connections.

“That right there is a testament to the university and how powerful it is away from athletics. It’s the great education respected world wide. It’s not a bourgeois education. If you’ve got a degree from USC and you want to live on the West Coast, that’s money.

“My coaches back home, one of them is a USC alum. If he gets laid off of one job, he’ll get another job lined up quick. All of these guys — the bosses and owners of these big companies are all USC alums.”

Ross becomes commitment No. 19 for USC Saturday. Recruited by Trojan assistant coaches Peter Sirmon and then Keith Heyward. The 6-foot-2, 185-pound four-star is projected to play safety for USC with the potential of also playing wide receiver.

As a senior for Riverside Poly, he had 50 receptions for 988-yards and 15 touchdowns.

At present date, USC has the nation’s No. 8 recruiting class. By Ross’ unofficial count, the Trojans should rank much higher by signing day.

“We finish No. 1 in the country,” said Ross. “I have no doubt about it. The guys I know that are coming, just based on their talent, their names and their hunger… No. 1 class in the country.

“I can’t speak for Porter (Gustin) or Osa (Masina). I don’t know if those guys are coming. I know USC is really high on their list. There hasn’t been a night this week where I haven’t seen Porter working out at 2:00 a.m.. This is at a bowl practice.

“He and Osa are getting full work outs in at 2:00 a.m. getting real work in. I see that, and it’s just like, ‘Be a part of this class we’ve got.’ The thing the USC guys have in common is that hunger and that drive.

“I think the USC commits and guys that will end up at USC are lovable guys, but guys that are willing to work. These guys don’t settle. Like Isaiah (Langley)… I love that guy. I’m not roomed with him, but I’m the room over. He’s rooming with Marvell, and both of those guys are great.

“Now that I’ve got to know them, they’re just great guys who want it bad like I do.”

With that said, Ross has a message for the USC fan base.

“Lets get ready for a show,” said Ross. “Be patient with the program, but be ready. Be ready. Fill up the Coliseum. No more showing up in the second quarter.

“We need sold out seats in the Coliseum. No halfway fans. We need to get the dynasty back and we need the fans selling out the Coliseum every game. We need to sell it out like it was the inauguration.”

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