C.J. Pollard recruiting hard for USC on official visit

USC safety commit C.J. Pollard had two teammates officially visiting USC this weekend.

With USC stretched thin on assistant coaches, Gardena (Calif.) Serra four-star safety C.J. Pollard could have been Trojan’s recruiting coordinator this weekend.

Pollard and two of his Serra teammates, five-star defensive end Oluwole Betiku and four-star athlete Khalil Tate, officially visited USC this weekend. Pollard has been committed to USC since the summer, and never wavered from that pledge.

Having been to campus many times before, Pollard’s only real questions about USC revolved around the staff.

“Talking to Coach Helton, he said he is going to hire the best educators,” said Pollard. “He has to hire a defensive coordinator first, and then the rest will fall in line.

“He is looking to bring in a safety and corner coach, which is going to be helpful for me. You’ll get more one-on-one time that way. I think it’s great that he wants to bring in the best educator as opposed to just the biggest name. He wants the team to be ready to run an NFL style scheme.”

Presently, USC has administrative assistant Drew Pearson helping coach defensive backs. Pollard met Pearson and came away impressed with the young coach.

“We didn’t talk about depth charts or scheme,” said Pollard. “Really we just hung out and I got a vibe with him. He’s  cool guy, and a younger athlete. I think he has a high knowledge of the game and is a people person.”

Pollard committed to USC with Steve Sarkisian at the helm and took his official visit to USC before enrolling as a mid-year graduate with Clay Helton leading the charge.

“Coach Helton a great person and his goal is to take care of his players,” said Pollard. “I know he’s stepping back from the offense, but he’s all about his guys.

“He makes sure we have the absolute best and is down for fighting for us on a daily basis.”

Pollard was all about fighting for his guys this weekend as well. With teammates Oluwole Betiku and Khalil Tate on hand, Pollard was selling hard for the Trojans.

“I was the No. 1 recruiter this weekend,” said Pollard. “That’s always sort of been my role since I’ve been committed.

“Besides working on myself and getting better for January, I’ve been abut recruiting the best class. I’ve been on guys with great talent and guys that I know can make an impact. I want to recruit guys who want to be a part of something special.

“So getting Wole and Tate down the really opened their eyes. I know they had nothing bad to say about it and it’s a great fit for everyone. It’s big, and I know they’ll like USC. As they’ve gotten more comfortable with USC, I think it makes them believers.

“I’ve had to move pretty fast though because both guys are mid-year grads, so it’s just about getting them on campus.”

Betiku originally committed to UCLA, and dropped USC because of the Trojans 3-4 scheme. Since September, Betiku has unofficially visited USC several times.

“I think he’s 80-percent a USC guy,” said Pollard. “I think he is interested more in USC than any other school out there. I feel like he is a believer in the school and he gets more of a vibe everyday.

“He meets new people, new teammates, new students, workers and feels that family vibe and doesn’t want to leave.”

Tate is committed to Arizona, and while he unofficially visited USC for the UCLA game, the four-star athlete didn’t consider the Trojans an option because he wants to play quarterback in college.

“I think this was a trip to wake him up a little bit,” said Pollard. “He turned down a lot of other trips for this one.

“He could have been at Texas A&M this weekend. He had a lot of offers, but Coach Helton had been working on him hard lately.

“I think the big thing was that Coach Helton is recruiting him as a quarterback and trying to make him a believer that he will play quarterback at USC. That’s a great fit for him, and whoever the offensive coordinator is, Helton is convincing Tate that’s how they’re going to play him.

“It was just matter of getting Tate down there one more time. He likes Helton and he knows that he is winning. He likes the players and the guys that would be his teammates. We have a bunch of players from Serra already down there.

“At first, you couldn’t tell me that Tate would take a trip. Him being committed so long to one place and being an early enrollee, it’s big. That speaks to the level of his interest.”

Pollard sees USC making a big run as signing day approaches.

“I think we’ll finish in the top five again,” said Pollard. “I can’t speak on No.1 right now, but I hope we close with guys like Jack Jones and some other big names.”

Regardless of what other recruits do, Pollard will remember his visit to USC fondly.

“The hotel room I had overlooked Staple Center and then I could walk across the hall and see the rest of downtown L.A.,” said Pollard. “That was really memorable.

“Walking out of the tunnel at the Coliseum was pretty special too. Sitting up there eating that good food and having it all to ourselves, that was unique.”


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