Gerard Martinez |

Elite 2020 prospect Sav'ell Smalls likes history of USC football

USC never was at the top of Sav'ell Smalls list of schools that he followed when he was growing up, but after seeing the Trojans upset Washington on the road, he's been paying a lot more attention to what USC has to offer.

At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, Seattle (Wash.) Garfield’s Sav’ell Smalls is already seeing his recruitment blow up despite being a 2020 prospect. 

Earmarked as a future five-star prospect with potential to be one of, if not the, top recruit in his class, Smalls has elite athleticism and speed off the edge that makes him a dangerous defensive weapon capable of making quarterbacks live in a world of fear and pain for the duration of a game.

Smalls has yet to even play a down for Garfield after transferring from Seattle (Wash.) Kennedy, but the defensive end/outside linebacker has already received scholarship offers from the hometown Washington Huskies and a handful of other Pac-12 schools. A freshman season with a reported 17 sacks will have that effect.

But the Huskies may have opened the door for another school to steal Smalls out of the city of Seattle.

“I really started paying attention to college football this year just like cause I’m in high school, I need to start paying attention to it now. So UDub [Washington] invited me to a couple of games and one of them was USC. 

“I know USC lost like the first couple of games and stuff like that, but then they came down to Washington and they beat Washington and everybody in college was stunned. I started paying attention to USC more and they won all their games and they won the Rose Bowl. I was like, ‘Dang.’ I just started looking at them more.”

Then the Trojans gave Smalls a special birthday present this March, extending a scholarship offer.

This weekend with his 7-on-7 team playing in Southern California, Smalls got an opportunity to stop by USC to check out the campus on an unofficial visit.

“I wanted to see what the facilities look like and the whole coaching staff on the visit because the evaluation period I only got to meet a couple of the coaches and I wanted to see what [USC] has to offer.”

What stood out to Smalls on his visit was the tradition of excellence USC has and how the coaching staff is striving to add another title to the football program’s prestigious legacy.

“I saw the history. It definitely has a lot of history with all the national championships. I like the fact that they say they just want to win. They don’t care about anything else except for national championships. That was a good thing. 

“I like the facilities and the field. It all looked nice and the coaches seemed cool.”

Smalls spent most of his time with director of recruiting Alex Rios and running backs coach Deland McCullough. His primary recruiter with USC is outside linebacker coach, Johnny Nansen, who wasn’t on campus last weekend, but that gives a glimpse into where USC sees Smalls potentially fitting into their defense. 

He feels he could slide into either position. He was moved around in Kennedy’s defense — lining up primarily at defensive end, but also as a standout outside linebacker and shifting inside to play more of a traditional middle linebacker. He enjoyed playing different spots and getting to drop back on a few passes, including at least two that he intercepted — both on his stunning freshman highlight reel that is only 3 minutes, 15 seconds, but features seven sacks, two forced fumbles and two blocked kicks attempts.

On his trip to Los Angeles, Smalls also took the chance to get across town to UCLA where he was impressed by defensive line coach Angus McClure.

“He’s cool. He seems like he knows what he’s doing. He sounds like a great coach and I got to go around and see the campus. I got to see that they’re building a lot of stuff over there. I got to see what they have to offer.”

USC recruiting analyst Gerard Martinez contributed to this story.

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