Ced, talk about your decision to come to USC. What other schools were you considering, coming from Texas, and what made you decide to pick USC?
So at the time, I had narrowed my decision down to four schools, USC, Iowa, Ohio State, and Clemson. What made me choose USC was, I was talking to my parents and my family, and we were talking about life after football. Football’s not going to last forever. And we knew that with USC it was going to be a lot more opportunity than at the other schools to get something going after football, as far as whatever I wanted to do with my life. Because like we all know, there’s a lot of opportunity in LA, there’s just a lot to do. And of course, USC has a pretty historic program. I used to watch USC football a lot. I remember I really started watching them after the USC and Texas game, because I used to be a huge fan of the Texas Longhorns. I found out about Reggie Bush, and I just fell in love with USC and the program, and since then I was just like, “Yeah, this is one of the schools that I would love to go to,” and when I got that offer, I couldn’t turn it down.
How big of a change was it for you coming to LA from Cedar Hills, Texas?
The pace of the city’s just a lot faster. Coming from Texas, everything’s real calmer, slow, then you move to LA, and you got the school, which is by downtown. It was a new experience for me, and that was my first time being in California, so I had to get adjusted. I’ve never been the type of person to be distracted by a lot of stuff, but coming to LA, I had to really learn how to block out those distractions and just stay determined and stay motivated and focused on the task at hand.
Your dad bought a gym while you were in high school to help get you trained and ready in football. That’s not something that you read every day, and that’s some dedication by your father to your career.
Me and my dad, we’re really close. He’s been there for me forever. Him and my mom, they’ve always supported me and they’ve never stirred away from me, even when I made dumb mistakes, they’ve always taught me and told me the right way. My dad’s been my role model since forever. He’s the reason I started playing football. I started playing football when I was four, and that’s because he basically threw me in the fire. He put the ball in my hand, and I just fell in love with it since then. Around that time I was in high school, I had just got injured. It was my junior year, and I think I was about 15 years old. We had went to the barber shop. And I was getting my hair cut at the time, and the guy that was cutting my hair, my dad asked him about training. He told us about Reggie Perkins, who even now I call Uncle Reggie or cousin Reggie. My dad and he both decided, “Let’s just get a gym.” They got the gym for me, but it also benefited a lot of other people. My team mates started coming in there with me, different players from DeSoto started coming in there with me. It ended up helping me out in the long run, and I’m thankful for it.
Did you have anyone who took you under their wing when you first got to USC?
There’s a few guys that helped me along the way. Tre Madden used to help me out, Jahleel, Soma, Justin. All the older running backs. Those were my guys. When I came in, they sat with us. Me and Rojo, they brought us in, they showed us the way. And those guys were never disrespectful, never tried to be just mean to us for no reason, they were real cool guys. And down to earth guys. We all just connected. It was a fun time when those guys were there with us. I grew close to those guys, and like I said, they showed me a lot. They taught me a lot.
You came to USC in the same class as Ronald Jones. Do you think that coming up in the same group helped you both elevate your game?
Yeah, most definitely. It was fun playing with Ronald. He’s always been, since high school he’s always been a dynamic player. He’s always had a great game. So coming here, I knew I was going to have to compete with him, and that didn’t scare me away at all. It just made each other work harder. I knew his game, and I knew he could take it to the house at any moment, and that made me want to increase my game so I can be the type of back to take it to the house too, so it was fun, competing with him, but it was also serious a lot of the times, because I knew I couldn’t let up, because if I let up, he was going to step away from me.
During your time there at SC, you were known as a passionate leader who wasn’t afraid to speak your mind when needed.
I am not regularly a very vocal guy, but when I had to be vocal, I was vocal. And that was when I was with my team, if someone was slacking or I wanted more energy. I wanted the team to perform better during the games. But other than that, I try to always lead by example. I’ve always worked hard, I’ve always tried to do everything right. So the younger guys, like Stephen Carr, he could see me, he could see what I do and it can be some type of motivation for him to try to do right at all times. Try to be on time to every meeting. Be early out to practice, take care of your body, stuff like that. I spoke up a few times when it was needed, but other than that, I was more of a lead by example guy.
You played under two head coaches at USC. Coach Sarkisian when you were being recruited and briefly your first year, and then Coach Helton. Talk about what you learned from those two coaches.
So yeah, Coach Sark brought me in. I knew Sark a little bit, I really didn’t get to learn a lot from him. From the time he was there, he was a cool guy to me. He would always talk to me, he made sure I was okay, made sure I was good. He was a great coach. Always had passion. He would criticize you too, he let you know if you messed up. So that’s always good. I grew more close to Coach Helton. Because Helton’s one of the guys who helped bring me in and he became the head coach, so Helton taught me a lot, taught me to just remain patient, remain humble, and my time would come. So, I appreciate both of those guys for the lessons they taught me. They were both great leaders. Of course they both wanted us to be great in every aspect. But I want to say the biggest difference is, Coach Sark is probably more serious, he would get after you more than Coach Helton. Helton, he’d get on your behind, but he’ll pat you on the back as well. He’ll let you know when you’re doing good and when you’re doing bad. Sark, he’s the same way but he was a little more strict. Both guys were great leaders, but Helton just, he gave a little more slack.
Let’s talk about each of your position coaches over the years who you worked more closely with, and there have been many, starting with Coach Nansen. What did you you take from each of them?
So yeah, I had four different coaches all four years. I started with Nansen. I liked Nansen when I first came in. He was real funny. He taught us a lot. One thing I taught me was, he was big on pass protection and physicality, and that’s what I took from Nansen. T-Rob, he was the same way. He loved physical running and downhill running. I was already a physical runner, but he helped instill it a little bit more. He helped me with my running downhill, staying up on my feet, staying balanced. Coach McCullough, he also liked physical running but he helped me a lot more with my read. And reading different holes, and seeing the whole field before the play started, trying to see the play before it started. So basically, he helped me with my football intelligence. He made me start thinking before the play, and instead of trying to react, he made me actually start thinking about football. Coach Drevno, he made me perfect pass protection, he made it a passion for me. I’ve always loved pass protection, but with him, the way he taught it, he made it easy and I loved it more. And I feel like that’s helped me a lot in this process that I’m going through right now.
What was your favorite game playing for USC?
Probably against Oregon State, the game. I had three touchdowns, 205 yards. It was fun. That was the first game in college that I’ve had multiple touchdowns. In high school I used to do it all the time, but doing that at a higher level, it felt great. And I felt like it helped, the touchdowns, they helped the team win, and it just felt great, just helping the team get past that challenge, because it was a really good game. They came to play, and we didn’t let up. My performance, I felt like, took it over the top, and just helped the team overcome that challenge, and I’m proud of it. That was one of the games I’m going to remember forever.
What about your favorite single play from your time at USC?
My favorite play is probably from that same game. It was the third touchdown of the game. When I brought like 60 something yards, and during the end when I got to the end zone I did one of my [Kappa Alpha Psi] frat dances, and I’m going to say that was favorite play.
What was your favorite play just watching, that you didn’t take part in?
I want to say my favorite play that I wasn’t part of was probably watching Vavae Malepeai score his first touchdown. My senior year. I was happy for him, because I know he’d been wanting that for a minute. Vavae’s been one of the guys who’s really supported me, because he knew how I was, knew how I was feeling, having to wait all that time before I can really get my opportunity to play, and he was one of the guys who used to really just keep my head calm, pray with me, just make sure I’m good. He used to always remind me, that, he was like, “You a dog, when you get your opportunity, just do your thing. “And so I used to tell him the same thing, so when he finally got that opportunity to score that touchdown, that was a real exciting moment for both of us.
Your favorite off the field moment?
Probably when I officially joined the fraternity at our probate. At my probate… Do you know what a probate is?
The only probate I know involves courthouses and estates.
(Laughs.) Yeah, sorry. A probate is basically like you’re being introduced to the world as being a part of that fraternity, and so it’s like, you come out, you do your little steps, stroll or whatever. Introduce yourself to whoever comes, whoever comes to support. And it’s just like the revealing. So that was probably one of my favorite times. That was pretty fun. A few of us are in the same fraternity. Stephen Mitchell, he was the first one on the team to do it. Then the next year it was me and Dominic Davis. And after that, it was Jalen Greene, Tyler Vaughns, Trevon Sidney, Frank Martin, and they just had some new guys join. Yeah, so we’re kind of deep now in the team. So that’s pretty cool.
I hear you have been invited to tryouts for a couple of NFL teams, with the Colts and the Redskins.
Yes, it is very exciting. Last weekend was my first time trying out for an NFL team with the Colts. So it was a very exciting time. I feel like I left a lasting impression, a good mark on the coaching and the general manager there, so it was fun. I learned a lot, and I appreciate them for that opportunity. This weekend I am with the Redskins and I am looking forward to the chance to show another team what I can do, and hopefully make a good impression with them as well.
You are majoring in psychology, are you part of this year’s graduating class?
Yes, I am officially done.
What do you see yourself doing career-wise in the future, after you’re done with football?
So I got into psychology because I took a psych class the summer of my sophomore or junior year, and I really just fell in love with psychology. It was fun to learn how people think, just learn what causes people to react different ways. Now, I don’t know exactly what I want to do with psychology, but I do know that I do know I want to go into real estate, and I do want to become an entrepreneur, own my own business. But right now, my biggest thing is real estate. I want to see what I can do with residential real estate, commercial real estate and see how far I can go with that.
Do you have any last words for the USC Trojans fans, as you depart USC for the next stage in your career?
I enjoyed my time at USC. I enjoyed you guys’ support. Thank you for the fans, all the loyal fans who’ve been there, who have attended the games, who’ve been fun to talk to, who’ve always supported me since I’ve been there. Fight on forever.