Last year Travon Patterson, Vincent Joseph and Alfred Rowe, all from Long Beach Poly, were offered scholarships late in the process when the Trojans lost out on guys like Andre Smith, Steve Schilling, Percy Harvin, Reggie Smith and Sam Young.
This year, USC had high hopes in signing Scout.com's No. 1 defensive tackle, Marvin Austin, but that doesn't appear likely. So, the Trojans decided to offer defensive tackle Christian Tupou (6-4, 270) from Grant High in Sacramento. For those following USC recruiting, the offer was a surprise. Tupou was also surprised by the offer.
"I first heard from USC on Monday (Jan. 22) and they offered me on Friday (Jan. 26)," Tupou said. "After we talked on Monday, they came to my school to watch film and they said they really liked what they saw. They came on real strong. I guess I was on their list real early, but they only had 16 scholarships to offer. And then the guys they offered committed and the 16 spots were taken. But after the Rose Bowl, a couple of guys decided to leave, so that's why I received an offer from them (USC). Me and my family were surprised that USC was offering me a scholarship."
Although the offer from USC means a lot to Tupou, the offer didn't put the Trojans ahead of the other schools he's considering. "I don't have any schools ahead of the others," Tupou said. "I'm just evaluating them all and consider them equal."
It's not surprising that an offer alone would put one school ahead of the other considering Tupou hasn't visited and isn't familiar with the school. However, he does know a few aspects about the football program.
"I know about all the guys they've sent to the NFL," Tupou said. "I also know about their coach (Pete Carroll) and what he's done for the program. I spoke to Pete Carroll and he's the one who offered me a scholarship."
Tupou was asked if he would officially visit USC as was reported last week.
"I'm still thinking about it," Tupou said. "I just want to make sure they're not blowing smoke about how good I am or the potential for playing time. I don't want t waste my time visiting if it's not worth the time. I only have one more visit left and I don't know what to do."
As a junior, Tupou recorded 19 sacks from the defensive end position. However, he was moved to nose guard for his senior season and ended up with six sacks. Although his sack totals significantly declined, the move was best for the team. Tupou explained why he was moved inside.
"I was so quick with my first-step and punch at defensive end spot, and when you throw that in at the nose guard position, you become a key piece of the three-four defense," Tupou said. "I cause a lot of havoc in the backfield and running backs will always bounce out wide. Teams wouldn't run up the middle. They would run sweep plays and quick passes.
"It's a little bit tougher getting to the quarterback at nose guard, but while I'm occupied with two or three guys, that leaves a defensive end or linebacker one-on-one. So, you got to have faith that those guys are going to do their jobs."
Tupou has always been a multi-sport athlete at Grant, but he had to give up one sport because of the recruiting process.
"I did play basketball, but I had to drop it because this whole recruiting process was too much," Tupou said. "I can do track because the recruiting process is about to end. I do the discus and shot-put for track."
We'll be in contact with Tupou later this week to confirm whether or not he will officially visit USC.