Last week against Los Angeles (Calif.) Cathedral, USC commit Wylan Free didn’t have much of an opportunity to showcase his skills.
The Lynwood (Calif.) three-star cornerback entered the game banged up. He injured his knee playing quarterback in a game against Verbum Dei. The Lynwood coaching staff chose to have him focus on defense so he would be subjected to less wear and tear.
“The coach didn't really want me at quarterback or wide receiver because he was afraid of me taking big shots,” Free said, “so he told me to lay off offense.”
The Knights also needed Free to try to shut down Cathedral’s most explosive offensive weapon, three-star receiver Jamire Calvin. It was the marquee matchup that can elevate your recruiting stock. Free was prepared. He had been studying the 5-foot-10 speedster’s game all week.
“Most of my coaches took me in and we watched film. I watched some on my own and got down to his favorite two routes and [wanted to] just play physical with him.”
But on the first drive of the game, Calvin injured his shoulder and only played a handful of plays the rest of the game. Calvin had only one catch for five yards in his limited time. It was the only pass that was completed against Free on the night, but the 6-foot-1.5, 165 pounder didn’t get the spotlight matchup like he was expecting.
He also didn’t get to show much to his future position coach at USC, defensive backs coach Ronnie Bradford, who arrived at halftime after attending half of another game. Free wasn’t targeted often in the game. but especially not in the second half when Cathedral quickly pushed a 28-6 lead to 50-6 in the third quarter.
“We just got physically outmatched,” Free said after the game. “Some of our players weren't able to play due to injuries and some other issues, but we just got physically outmatched.”
Still Free was happy to have Bradford come out to watch him in person.
“It means a lot. He's taking the time out of his day to come watch one of his recruits play. Just love.”
Of the USC coaches, Free said he talks to Bradford and offensive coordinator Tee Martin the most, but said before the game, head coach Clay Helton had sent him a message “saying we can't wait for you to get on the field and become a Trojan.”
Because Lynwood played Verbum Dei on a Saturday, Free was saved from watching the Trojans lose to Alabama, but he was in attendance for USC’s home opener against Utah State. He got his wish from the game as he was hoping to see the Trojans “take out all their frustrations on Utah State,” which they did with a 45-7 win.
But Free wasn’t just there to cheer on his future team. He was there to make himself better. During the game, he was focused on USC’s starting cornerbacks Adoree’ Jackson and Iman Marshall. He watched how they defended the Aggie receivers, paying attention to “the techniques that they use and try to work it in with mine so I can become a little better on the field.”
While he didn’t get a chance to show off all his skills last weekend, he still learned what he can do to improve on them.
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