Every time 2018 Long Beach (Calif.) Polytechnic five-star quarterback Matt Corral steps onto the USC campus, he feels like he inches that much closer to realizing his dreams of wearing the cardinal and gold.
When he drops in for a spring practice, that just makes it feel that much more tangible.
“It's starting to get a little bit more real to me each and every time I go because I'm starting to get to know more players,” Corral said. “Mainly I think what's like getting me the feel of it is when the players that are already there like know who I am and say what's up to me. Little stuff like that means a lot.”
Corral is just eight months away from joining his new teammates when he enrolls early, which he thinks will greatly enhance his learning curve before his first season wearing the USC Trojans jersey.
“I was talking to Coach Tyson [Helton]. He was saying that Jack Sears' head is like spinning because he doesn't know exactly what is going on. I feel like that's how I'm going to be,” Corral said. “Different feel. Different speed. A lot bigger guys coming after me and a lot faster receivers.
“You've just got to focus on what Coach Tyson is telling you to do. Not worry about everything else going on. You've got to stay poised and not freak out or else you'll look dumb out there.”
With a cannon right arm and an increasing breadth of football knowledge, it is unlikely the 6-foot-2, 196-pound quarterback, who is rated as the No. 10 overall prospect in the 2018 class and was just invited to the Elite 11, will look dumb.
Since transferring from Oaks Christian to Long Beach Poly, Corral has been hard at work in the football classroom, particularly with former All-Pro wide receiver TJ Houshmazadeh on play designs.
“I've never done this much white board in my life than now. We've been going over film, but like NFL film and college film, not our film yet.”
After being in the shotgun for what Corral estimated to be 70 percent of the time at Oaks Christian, the under center/shotgun split is much more even at Long Beach Poly. Corral is working with more pro-style offensive sets, practicing being under center with playaction and roll outs and staying in the pocket more.
“It's good to experience them both because SC they're more of a pocket style quarterbacks. It's going to be a good feel for me to just stay in the pocket and learn how to do that.”
Culturally, Corral also thinks Long Beach Poly is a better fit for him. While he had no intentions of denigrating Jim Benkert’s Oaks Christian program, Corral said he likes Poly a lot more “because of the brotherhood there is.”
“You'd have to experience both to know the difference but for sure different socially, a different environment and I like it a lot better than what I was in. I’m getting settled in at my new house. Everything is going well over at Poly.”
One player particularly happy with Corral’s arrival was four-star hybrid tight end Camren McDonald.
“Phenomenal quarterback. Phenomenal, phenomenal leader too. Sometimes you get high-caliber dudes like him. They get a big head and they think that they don't need to work,” McDonald said. “Matt's the first one in the weight room, last one out the weight room, first one when we're running laps around the field. Just a phenomenal leader. Phenomenal team-guy. I love Matt.”
“The way that he carries his self is what separates him from a lot of other quarterbacks. He knows that people are looking. He knows that people are watching. And he knows that he's probably one of the best guys on the field at all times, so he displays it at all times.”
McDonald also appreciates that his job is easier with Corral throwing the ball to him. Instead of him having to carry the quarterback, now the quarterback can assist him.
“When you don't have as good of a quarterback, you have to help them out. I find myself in a position where Matt's helping me out on a lot of balls where I could have got a little bit more separation, but just because it's Matt he's able to get it there. I feel like I have to do less with Matt back there. It makes it easier to get open too because they respect everything. The defense respects everything, so it’s a lot of fun.”
When Corral was asked about the new offensive weapons he will be playing alongside at Long Beach Poly, he smiled.
“It's going to be fun. You guys just have to wait and see.”
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