Pollard announced his decision to commit to USC on ESPNU from The Opening Finals. Before going on national television with the bare basics of his pledge, Pollard expounded upon his life-altering decision.
“I committed to the culture and the people at USC,” Pollard said. “Every time I went up to USC, I felt a genuine love.
“That’s real important to me. You want to be somewhere you’re wanted, you’re respected and players on the team enjoy being around you."
Good players often want to be around other good players. While Pollard has plenty of family history with his mom and dad both being Trojan alumni, the future is what excites the 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior about USC.
“A national championship is big,” Pollard said. “Everybody wants to be a part of history, but nobody wants to put in the work.
“I feel like with the talent and the coaching staff we have at USC, everybody on that team is working hard and trying to make it to the NFL. All of that can’t lead to anything but success.
“A national championship is big in picking this school. These dudes want to compete and they want to win. No one going to USC right now is settling for the bare minimum.”
And the 2016 season opener in Texas against the Alabama
Crimson Tide is already a topic of conversation.
“We have a group chat titled ‘USC Commits,’ and I don’t want to put anyone out there who’s not official, but there are some key guys in that group. Today we were talking about an argument we had in the hotel lobby with some of the East Coast guys.
“They were talking about Alabama and how we’ll lose. It’s like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ What we’re putting together isn’t even funny. With the 2014 class, the 2015 class and the 2016 class, that could lead to another run. That’s a whole other era of college football right there. We all have a love for USC and are pretty well bonded.”
Pollard has been a known commodity since the end of his sophomore year at Serra when he already had a scholarship offer from Utah. Attending dozens of camps and passing tournaments since, he isn’t afraid to go from recruit to recruiter for USC.
“I’m going to keep it real and discuss their best opportunity as a recruit,” said Pollard. “If you’re a quarterback and USC looks stacked at quarterback, I’m not going to lead you on.
“I’m a realist, but if I see a guy that can contribute at USC and make an impact, I’m going to be in his ear.”
Pollard, who will enroll at USC in January as a midyear graduate, already has a few targets in mind as he walks the halls of NIKE World Headquarters.
“I’m going to have to get on some of the DB’s,” Pollard said. “Coach (Keith) Heyward wants three corners, so I have to talk to Jack Jones, David Long, Nigel Knott, Jordan Parker and Byron Murphy.
“I just can’t get a read on some of these guys. But I’m a DB and I work out with these guys in the offseason, so I feel like I can get a vibe on who is leaning toward SC and who isn’t. That’s my job now.”
But football is only one aspect to Pollard’s decision. With his mother and father being alums, Pollard views USC as a stage to propel him well beyond his four years of college.
“This is big for my family because they can come support me at the games, but there are other important things outside of football to my decision,” Pollard said. “USC is big for me to build myself up off the field.
“The NFL is ‘Not For Long.’ USC has an outstanding internship program for student-athletes. They really love their student-athletes and make sure they come back to school and help. They provide great opportunities with a USC degree, so this is about my future after football too.”
Having grown up around the Trojan football program in his formative years, Pollard has seen the good times and the bad at USC.
“They can count on me,” he said. “I’m a guy that’s never quit in anything. I’ve never transferred — not in elementary, middle school or high school. Through the good times and the bad times, I’m a guy that’s going to be there to tough it out.
“That’s first and foremost. Secondly, and this is not to sound cocky, but I think I have talent. I think I set myself apart from other safeties nationally. I think you can look at the best guys at the position and I’m on that level.”
In NIKE football combine testing Wednesday, Pollard ran a 4.61 40-yard dash and had a vertical leap of 35.1 inches. Pollard ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at The Opening Regional in Los Angeles in March.
Pollard, although recognized as one of the top players in the nation just by way of his invitation to The Opening Finals, will not arrive on campus at USC with a big head.
“L.A. get ready for C.J.,” Pollard said. “I’m coming in with a chip on my shoulder and like I’m behind schedule.
“That’s the mentality I arrive with. I have the effort and the eye of the tiger. I’m not coming in talking about how I’m going to snatch spots. I’m coming in to work hard and let the chips fall where they fall.”
And while Pollard still wants to enjoy some of the perks of the process, it would appear a colossal challenge for any school to sway him away from the Trojans.
“I still want to take a visit, but know I’m 100-percent committed to USC,” Pollard said. “I’ve just spoken to enough people who have gone through the process to know I want to experience official visits.
“They all say, ‘Take your trips, they’re fun.’”