While most recruits talk up the football tradition and exploits of past USC Heisman Trophy winners, McCulloch had a different take.
“I wasn’t expecting the offer at all,” said McCulloch. “My coach is the one who told me they had been in contact and wanted me to call them.
“Before that, I knew USC was very good academically. I know they’re one of the top [private] school institutions in the country.”
McCulloch interest in academics isn't to keep up appearances either. Carrying a 3.9 GPA, McCulloch hopes to become a corporate business lawyer after football.
McCulloch spoke to USC defensive line coach Chris Wilson, defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and head coach Steve Sarkisian upon being offered a scholarship last week. While McCulloch is being recruited as a linebacker by most schools, USC left their recruitment more open ended.
“They said I can play any position on the field - from safety to linebacker to defensive end,” said McCulloch. “They said they wanted players with talent and didn’t care where they had to go to find those guys.”
McCulloch's game exudes violent hits and an impressive instinct for rushing the passer. Thus, he prefers to be an enforcer around the line of scrimmage.
“I like linebacker” said McCulloch. “I'm able to cover anybody and rush the quarterback. A lot of schools see me as a SAM or WILL in the 4-3 and an outside linebacker in the 3-4.”
Whether USC becomes a real contender for McCulloch’s commitment remains to be seen. Before he can consider USC seriously, he has to get to Los Angeles to meet the coaching staff in person.
“I could see myself going there,” said McCulloch. “It’s a school I’ll probably get out to see this summer. I doubt I’ll make that trip during the spring.
“If I go anywhere this spring, it will probably be local. I really slowed down my recruitment because we were in the playoffs for basketball, but we lost last night. I’m just now starting to look at what schools I want to see.”
Outside academics, McCulloch’s knowledge of USC football is somewhat limited to the recent past. Recent as in the last year of recruiting.
“I have to get on it and do some more research on USC in the next few weeks,” said McCulloch. “I do know they are fairly deep at linebacker and that’s the way they like it.
“They just signed some good ones this year with Osa (Masina) and Porter (Gustin). They challenged for the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation this past year. They’re on the right track.”
Of course, that begs the question as to whether McCulloch sees the Trojans’ success recruiting linebackers in the 2015 class as positive or negative to his own recruitment.
“I’m all for competition,” said McCulloch. “I don’t mind that they signed good linebackers. That means I have good teammates. At the same time, I do want to go somewhere I will play.”