In previous years, the pipeline of players from San Diego north to USC and UCLA has been known for offensive talent like five-star athletes Reggie Bush or Dillon Baxter. Point Loma (Calif.) defensive tackle Christian Heyward is one of several players in the class of 2011 that have coaches looking south for top-flight defensive talent as well.
After recently taking in Junior Day at both UCLA and USC, Heyward talked about his trip to Los Angeles.
"I went to the UCLA (Junior Day) because they asked me first," Heyward said. "I already made the commitment that I was going to go that day. Then USC emailed me and asked if I could make it and I told them I would. I ended up getting there a little late."
Already holding an offer from the Bruins, an extensive tour of the UCLA campus was one of many eye-opening discoveries for the all-CIF San Diego Section defensive tackle.
"UCLA was pretty cool. I got to see the whole campus for the first time. I've seen it before because my uncle played basketball there. I got to see the weight room facilities, the training facilities and meet all the coaches. It was a pretty cool experience. The coaches seemed laid back and cool."
After touring Westwood, Heyward made the trip across town to check out USC also.
"I got there right when they were done with a team meeting," he said. "I wasn't able to see that but I got to meet the coaches and everything right before everyone ate lunch. Then we were going to go to the basketball game.
"I got to meet coach Orgeron right when I got there. He was pretty cool. I've heard about him before, my coaches talk highly about him. I know that he recruited Michael Oher from Ole Miss. I just talked with him and he's a real cool guy."
Orgeron is known to an increasing number of recruits after playing himself in the movie The Blind Side. Heyward wasn't able to discuss Orgeron's acting skills however.
"I didn't see the movie but I heard about it," he said.
The visit to USC's campus was about more than meeting a movie star, taking a campus tour and watching a basketball game though.
"I had specific questions," Heyward said. "At UCLA, I was watching film on how the team plays defense. They play more of a gap control defense. I asked coach Orgeron what kind of defense they play and he said they play an attack-style defense. Kind of like how I play at Point Loma, in the gap and use my speed and skills."
"I love USC. They have a family-type bond there. Really cool coaches and a way of bringing you in and attracting players there. When I first walked in I was real attracted to the school, the atmosphere, the coaches and it seems like a real relaxed atmosphere there."
With offers from schools such as Arizona, Oklahoma State, Washington and UCLA, the all-CIF San Diego Section player didn't leave Los Angeles with another.
"I didn't ask about an offer but my coaches told me that (USC) wants to see me out there more before they actually offer me," Heyward said. "It seems like, in talking to them, that they want to offer me. They told me to come to their camp. They want me there.
"UCLA looks like they have more interest in me. But if USC offers, I can look at them as more interested and check them out more. It doesn't really matter to me. I'm going to wait and see how things play out. Then I'll make my decision."
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