After returning from his visit to USC for the Trojan Elite Day on Saturday, it’s the word that came up over and over in a conversation with fast-rising San Diego (Calif.) Madison linebacker Sampson Niu. He said “great” five times in his first 23 words when describing the trip:
“Oh man, it was great! Overall the trip was great. The coaches were great. The facilities were great. Everything about USC was great.”
Having grown up a Trojan fan, Niu couldn’t contain his excitement.
“Man that would be a dream school to go to. USC has been the top choice of mine for a long time.”
With USC’s strong Polynesian culture, he said he already felt at home and had a “warming feeling” when being on the campus around players like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Zach Banner, who both spoke to the prospective prospects, and coaches like Johnny Nansen that all are of various Polynesian descents.
The three-star inside linebacker said he was inspired to play football the most because of another former Trojan, Junior Seau. Niu wears the No. 55 because of Seau, who his father played with at Oceanside High School prior to Seau’s career at USC. The tradition of Polynesian stars at USC is a big draw for Niu.
“Oh of course! Just the tradition they had from Junior Seau, Troy Polamalu, all those big names,” Niu said. “It's just crazy knowing that they were in the same position that I am. Those guys came through the process like I am right now. It was just really nice seeing like local legends at USC”
USC has yet to extend a scholarship offer for Niu, but the Trojans might want to take a deeper look at him sooner rather than later as his recruiting stock continues to skyrocket. Since his visit on Saturday, Niu has already added scholarship offers from South Carolina, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Washington, California and Ole Miss to push his total offer sheet to 19 schools.
He also has Pac-12 offers from Arizona, Utah and Washington State and has heard from Oregon. Niu said he’s also taken unofficial visits to Auburn, Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. While USC remains his dream school, staying in Southern California isn’t a requirement.
But what would an offer to be a Trojan mean?
“That offer would mean everything to me. USC has been a dream of mine for as long as I remember,” Niu said. “That would honestly be really crazy if I got a chance to play there, especially for Coach Nansen.”
Though there wasn’t a lot of one-on-one time at the Elite Trojan Day event, Niu has already built a connection with Nansen and is very high on the Trojans’ new linebacker coach.
“Coach Nansen he's a really cool dude. He knows how to get his guys hyped. He brings a fire and he gets them excited. He motivates them and that's what I really like about him. We both have that same mindset. He has that mindset that he wants to do whatever it takes to win. He always wants to win. He always has that winning mentality. That's something you just got to have and it can't be taught.
“Another thing that he does is that he has a lot of passion for the game like me. He just really loves the game. He loves it. Not only that, but he likes to build relationships with his players off the field too. He thinks about things past football, like life. He really cares about his players.”