In a landscape of soft verbals, de-commitments and endless flip-flopping, Josh Imatorbhebhe is a recruit that knows what he wants.
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound four-star Suwanee (Ga.) North Gwinnett wide receiver let that be known when he committed to USC in the spring.
“Really, I didn’t have to think too hard about whether I wanted to go to USC,” Imatorbhebhe said at the time. “The real question was when was the earliest I could commit.”
But that hasn’t necessarily made the recruiting process any easier for Imatorbhebhe, who continues to be targeted by high-profile programs trying to keep him from leaving the Southeast. Auburn is one school in particular that has worked hard to try to capture his eye. Out of respect for the Tigers and the efforts they’ve made, Imatorbhebhe recently took an official visit to watch Auburn take on Mississippi State.
While he said the trip was nice, he also said “some of the stuff is just hard.”
“I love the coaching staff and I love the way they are recruiting me and that’s why some of the stuff is so heartbreaking,” he said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with Auburn, I feel like USC is the place for me. For me, USC is the only true place that I’m going to go.”
Imatorbhebhe is tentatively planning to take an official visit for the USC/UCLA game. That will depend on if his high school team is still playing in the state playoffs. While he didn’t rule out attending big games, such as the Georgia/Alabama contest over the weekend, “just to get something to do,” he doesn’t have any other officials set at this time.
Instead of trying to force official visits into his schedule, Imatorbhebhe is planning to focus his energy on USC until he enrolls in January. Last week, the Trojans announced four early enrollees that had signed financial aid paperwork binding the school to the recruits (while the recruits still have the freedom to enroll elsewhere, if they so choose). Imatorbhebhe said USC has sent the paperwork and he will soon follow suit.
“That’s something I’m probably going to do extremely soon. I just took an official to Auburn and they wanted to see me and stuff, so I just talked to them. I feel like I’m ready. I guess I just have to sit down with my parents and see when will be the best time to do that.”
And for any questioning Imatorbhebhe’s loyalty after the recent trip? He squashed that notion quickly:
“Definitely USC. Fight on, forever. That’s really without question. USC is a place that I’ve always wanted to go and I don’t see myself changing my mind at all.”
Not only is there the draw of playing with older brother, Daniel, who is a backup tight end redshirting this season after transferring to USC from Florida during the summer. But Josh is also looking forward to the opportunity to play for wide receivers coach Tee Martin, who he has a "very strong relationship" that includes communicating on a regular basis every day on Twitter and “at least three times a week” via phone calls.
“We’re really talking about everything. I’ll tell him something that maybe I’m struggling with whether it be in school or football or just as a person and just ask for some advice. It’s really cool because it’s not limited to anything. It’s a real wide range of topics.”
The two have inevitably talked about the production of the Trojans’ receiving corps through the first four games, something that definitely has Imatorbhebhe excited for his time at USC.
“It’s just so great to see the receiver production. I think JuJu has like six touchdowns, 537 yards, 27 receptions and that’s in four games. That’s very encouraging. And it’s not like he’s the only person. Steven Mitchell is right behind him with four touchdowns.
“It’s like ‘Wow. They have all this talent, but at the same time, they are utilizing it.’ It’s not like one guy is getting all the shine. They know how to get the ball to the playmakers and allow them to make plays. That’s very encouraging and makes me love them even more so.”
Imatorbhebhe’s North Gwinnett team is breaking in a new quarterback and a young offensive line and has struggled to get the ball to its skill players on the perimeter. Without as many opportunities, he’s focused on the minute details to try to improve his game and it all starts with being locked in on every play.
“I’ve worked on giving 100 percent effort on every play. Film really exposes your effort. You want to make sure that every play you’re in, you’re seen giving 100 percent effort. You might flub a play. You might run the wrong route or whatever, but if you’re giving 100 percent effort, you can’t really complain that much, so something I’ve been working on has been giving 100 percent effort in routes, in details. Really, really being unselfish when it’s time for the running back to run the ball and giving a really good kickout block or something.”
Check out these Josh Imatorbhebhe highlights as he performs at The Opening this summer: