O'Dowd talks about SC commit

If you've ever wondered what an elite prospect goes through leading up to him verbally committing in front of family, friends, coaches, administrators of the school, the local media and scouting services like Scout.com, you'd be surprised how low key and relaxed Kristofer O'Dowd was Thursday afternoon.

There he was, hanging out in a small office on campus with WeAreSC.com and a school administrator. The conversation was light, humorous and enlightening. At one point, the administrator asked, "What will you major in at Arizona?" She then asked, as O'Dowd was writing a text message, "What position will you play at USC?" WeAreSC.com replied, "He will surprise everyone and commit to Florida State." She asked, "The Florida State Gators?" She asked WeAreSC.com, "You have to know what school he's committed to? You wouldn't come all the way here if you didn't know." Nope, we didn't know, or did we?

Then her son opened the office door and walked in. O'Dowd, who was told the kid and his father had discussed where O'Dowd would attend school next year, asked, "What school do you think I'll commit to?" The kid said, almost as if he was unsure and didn‘t want to be wrong, "USC." O'Dowd then asked, "What school does your dad think I'll commit to? "The kid again said, "USC."

One thing stood out while spending 90 minutes with O'Dowd in the small office, they are one big family at Salpointe. It was refreshing to be reminded how things weren't so serious in high school. However, nobody at Salpointe High knew which school O'Dowd would commit to, other than Coach (Dennis) Bene. Bene said shortly after O‘Dowd announced his commitment to the Trojans, "I had to catch myself a number of times so I wouldn't give away where Kristofer would commit. It was a difficult decision for him and it came down to Kristofer really connecting with the USC coaching staff."

O'Dowd echoed his coaches comments and added a few other reasons he chose USC.

"What it came down to was I just felt USC was the place for me," O'Dowd said."From the players, the coaches and playing wise, it just felt right."

With the recruiting process over for O'Dowd, he discussed what it was like for him.

"The recruiting process wasn't as bad as I thought it would be," O'Dowd said. "Now that the season is over I have a little bit more pressure on me, but it was good to get this (commitment) off my chest and I chose the best place for me."

If you read message boards, there was talk about O'Dowd feeling family pressure to remain in Tucson and attend Arizona.

"I kind of started playing football on my own and I've mostly done everything for myself," O'Dowd said. "My parents never really pushed me into anything, so they let me do this on my own. I've been fortunate enough to have made big strides on that. I brought to them the six schools I had from the beginning, and I had their consent for each school. So, they said we have faith in you, you're an adult now and you need to pick the best place for you. And that was USC."

A few months ago the Wildcats weren't even mentioned as school he was considering, but that changed as Arizona's play vastly improved.

"They (Arizona) had a good year, really," O'Dowd said. "Toward the end they kind of showed me what they could do and they (Arizona coaches) made that abundantly clear in their recruiting. I noticed it because they're down the street from me, so I was able to catch a couple of games, unofficially. They caught my eye and I just wanted to give them another opportunity before I decided."

O'Dowd was asked if he really seriously considered UCLA and Tennessee.

"To make it into my final four, meant they were schools that had everything I was looking for," O'Dowd said. "The great thing about USC, Arizona, UCLA and Tennessee is, they are schools that put everything on the table. They don't cut corners and that's what I really respect the most. Again, it was a difficult decision for me, but USC was the best decision."

Recruiting generally is all about coaches selling why their school is better than others. That wasn't the case with USC, Arizona, UCLA and Tennessee.

"They really didn't have to sell me," O'Dowd said. "They just brought up good scenarios of where I would fit into their program and what I could accomplish. I liked what they all had to say and I really took it to heart. The claims I could play a certain position or play early never really mattered much. I was looking for more than that in the school I chose."

O'Dowd became the third Army All-American offensive lineman to verbally commit to USC. O'Dowd spent time at camps and on the phone the past few months with fellow Trojan commits, Martin Coleman and Wilson.

"Martin Coleman is a real good guy., same with James Wilson," O'Dowd said. "They're just good people to be around and I don't have to worry about getting to know them. We've talked several times and it will be a lot of fun playing with both of them. Me and James kind of mouth off to each other because he'll be playing for the East and I'll play for the West. So, we have that competition thing going."

Ryan Kalil spent a lot of time speaking to O'Dowd and answering questions on his official visit to USC Nov. 25-26. He was asked what influence his conversations with Kalil had on his decision.

"First off, I didn't know it was going to be Ryan Kalil who I talked to," O'Dowd said. "When I heard that, I was honored because of his prestige on the football field. He knew I was coming in with the plan for me to take his spot when he leaves. My visit was over Thanksgiving weekend and I had a lot of time to pick his brain. I really felt we made a connection. He's going to try and help me out this spring. And like I said, Sam Baker will be back next year and he'll help me out, too. I'd like to be part of the starting offensive line next year."

His high school career is almost over and his final prep game will be the Army All-American Bowl. After that, O'Dowd's goals include making an impact as a freshman at USC next season.

"My new goals are to get ready for the season," O'Dowd said. "I have the Army All-American Game coming up, so get back in the weight room and get fit for that. I'm really looking forward to that competition wise. My goal for the off-season is to meet up with the coaches at USC and become familiar with the game they play--and the playbook. My goal is to start my freshman year and make a difference. I want to be the best I can be out on the field."

We'll have exclusive coverage for Kristofer O'Dowd the week of the Army Al-American Bowl week.

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