San Diego (Calif.) three-star linebacker Sampson Niu went to USC spring practice Saturday excited to watch the Trojans play for the first time this off season.
Having grown up a USC fan, seeing the program behind the scenes was exciting, while being a recruit trying to research schools, watching practice was educational.
“I just went up to talk to the coaches and players — get to know them a little better,” said Niu. “I got a little bonding in with the players, and talked more with Coach (Johnny) Nansen.
“Man, Coach Nansen is one of the best coaches I’ve ever seen. He’s really cool and knows how to get his players hype. I could really envision myself at that inside linebacker spot. I believe they have two or three players at that spot graduating this year, so that’s another plus.
“It’s really crazy that defense. You have to get hype to play there. That’s what USC showed me. They were killing the offense in practice.”
However, his excitement was pushed aside by disbelief when USC head coach Clay Helton told Niu he had a scholarship offer from the Trojans after practice concluded.
“It surprised me so much,” said Niu. “I came to just watch a practice. Coach Nansen came over to say what’s up. We were just chopping it up a little bit, and then he said Coach Helton wanted to talk to me.
“I thought he just wanted to say what’s up. But then he broke the news to me I had an offer. was just so excited. It was a dream come true.”
Niu attended practice with his coaches, so he still had to call his parents to inform them of the good news.
“The fIrst person I called was my dad,” said Niu. “He was really excited. We cried on the phone together. Then we both started calling everyone else. It just broke out from there.”
But childhood dreams are only dreams. Niu now has to make a decision on a college which will propel him into adulthood.
“Another big factor for me is staying close to home,” said Niu. “Being able to still see my family at times is big. USC is maybe an hour to two hours away from my house.
“Another great thing is that i really like Coach Nansen. I would like to play for a position coach I know and truly wants the best for me.”
With that said, Niu admits he was close to pulling the trigger on a commitment to USC on Saturday.
“I was really think about making a commitment, but I still have to talk with my family and coaches about it,” said Niu. “I have to make sure that’s the decision I want to make. If i commit, I’m not de-committing.
“There are a lot of other schools that have a lot to offer as well — not just with football but education too. But as of right now, USC is a top choice.”