When fall rolls around, Pensacola (Fla.) Booker T. Washington offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood isn’t going to be contemplating his recruitment visitation plans. He already knows the schools he is considering with three schools locked in for official visits.
The 6-foot-5, 295-pound four-star lineman is committed to Alabama, but knows he is definitely going to experience the game-day environment at both Michigan and USC.
“Those are the three that are in stone that I’m going to take an official visit to,” Leatherwood said.
He says he has an “almost unbreakable bond with the coaching staff” at Alabama, but after visiting Los Angeles for USC’s Rising Stars Camp in June, the Trojans are right in the mix for Leatherwood’s services.
Leatherwood didn’t just come out to try to pick up some pointers in drills from the USC coaches and support staff. He came to get as close to a full immersion as you can in a short time, staying for four days rather than just the short duration of the Wednesday-Thursday camp.
“I got a taste of the West Coast and what the West Coast is like. I got a feel for the weather, the coaches, all of that — the whole West Coast atmosphere.”
Besides the personal instruction he received, Leatherwood also got a chance to spend time with and pick the brain of head coach Clay Helton. He also talked with and watched his potential position coach, USC offensive line coach Neil Callaway in action directing others. He saw how he would be treated since Callaway isn’t one to mince words or give preferential treatment coddling a star.
“Coach Callaway, as a position coach, he’s like a no [bullcrap] type of dude. He’s going to push you and he’s going to expect nothing but the greatest of you. He’s not going to kiss your ass. None of that type of stuff. That’s exactly what I need to be successful at the college level and excelling on to the NFL level.
“Coach Helton, on the other hand, he’s a people’s person and I related to him very, very well because he’s easy to talk to, easy to relate to. He’s just a cool dude overall.”
The Rising Stars Camp was an exploratory experience for Leatherwood, but also provided a lesson for him to carry with him to Beaverton, Ore. where he is for The Opening Finals.
“It prepared me. It just kept me on my toes and just kept me honest through my technique. It showed me that no matter where I go — to the East or to the West — always play with perfect technique and perfect form. Never get complacent no matter where you are and never play down to the competition.”
Between the lessons Leatherwood learned, the USC tradition and the strong bond with the coaches and players that he hung out with, the Pensacola product knows he wants to come back out to Los Angeles.
“I want to get back up there and take another visit. Spend some more time with the coaching staff and experience Cali a little bit more.”
Leatherwood wants to make it back before the high school year starts for an unofficial visit. But if the scheduling doesn’t work out in his favor, Leatherwood knows exactly where he will be spending his official visits, including “for sure taking an official” to USC.
Check out Alex Leatherwood's highlights from The Opening Regional that got him invited to The Opening Finals this week: