Keanu Saleapaga commits to USC

Defensive end Keanu Saleapaga spent his birthday with the USC coaching staff Saturday and decided that he would return for another four years.

La Mirada (Calif.) defensive end Keanu Saleapaga made headlines this spring earning scholarship offers from Boise State, Arizona State, Arizona, Texas Tech and Oregon State, but when he closed his eyes to blow out his birthday cake candles Saturday, he had another scholarship offer in mind.

After attending the USC Lineman Camp, Saleapaga was offered a scholarship by USC and accepted it on the spot.

“Man, it’s just overwhelming right now,” said Saleapaga. “I’m sort of still in shock. I came into the camp with the mentality of not getting an offer, but just learning new techniques that would make me a better player.

“I was going down there to USC to be instructed by some of the best coaches in the country, so I really wanted to take away new lessons and techniques.

“This is just a blessing for me — it’s what I’ve been working for my whole life. Going to the camps when I was younger with Rey Maualuga and Taylor Mays at USC, it’s the SC life.

“My family are big fans and just growing up I’ve been working for that. I’m glad to say I’ve done it. I got the offer, it’s my birthday… it’s a pretty good day.”

Saleapaga didn’t waste anytime second guessing what he should do with the scholarship offer by USC.

“I’m born and raised in Southern California” said Saleapaga. “USC is my dream school and it’s close to home. I want my family to be a part of my college experience.

“I was thinking about them coming to practice and me coming home during the weekends. The biggest part of my game is the support from my family.”

With scholarship offers from Boise State, Arizona State, Arizona, Texas Tech and Oregon State, Saleapaga is ready to shut down the recruiting process to focus on his senior year.

“I just want to graduate, get my diploma and go to the next level,” said Saleapaga. “This is a weight lifted off my shoulders. I’m all SC.”

Saleapaga was on USC’s radar coming into the camp, as assistant coach Johnny Nansen had earmarked the 6-foot-5, 260-pound defensive end as a potential prospect after his sophomore season.

“I talked to (Johnny) Nansen after my sophomore year, but after that, it was kind of quiet,” said Saleapaga. “When I came to the camp, they already knew where I was from and everything.

“Some of the coaches also saw me at some of the camps I’ve been to lately, so they knew me."

At USC, Saleapaga says that the coaching staff ran him through the gauntlet to see what he was made of physically and mentally.

“They said they tested me and really wanted to see how hard I would go,” said Saleapaga . “The coaches loved my effort and that I never quit. They love my hard work and dedication to football. They also said they love my frame and size.

“Coach (Chris Wilson) said he loved how I moved for a big guy. They want me as a defensive end and think I cannily the three, four or five-technique.”

Physically, Saleapaga weighed in at 260-pounds, which was actually less than he had previously come in at.

“Two weeks ago, I was 275-pounds,” said Saleapaga. “I’ve been putting in a lot of work at these camps though, and today I measured in at 6-foot-5, 260-pounds flat.”

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