Four months after signing day, USC’s 2019 recruiting class is looking a lot stronger than it did on that first Wednesday in February.
At that time, five-star wide receiver Bru McCoy had already transferred to Texas, and local cornerback Chris Steele was enrolled early at Florida, which represented two huge local misses. Now, it appears the Trojans will get both on the roster this year.
In an interview with the Athletic on Wednesday, Steele told writer Tyson Alger the story of what happened at Florida, how he first thought of attending Oregon to the point he did give a commitment after departing the Gators, and how and why the decision was made to become a Trojan.
On why he made the decision not to attend Oregon, Steele told the Athletic, “It was going to be a financial hardship for her to be able to come watch me play. My mom has never missed one of my games before. Going to Oregon seemed like a really good idea. I still think that if I were to go there, I would do very well.
“My mom ended up getting laid off. It was going to be a financial hardship for her to be able to come watch me play. My mom has never missed one of my games before. Going to Oregon seemed like a really good idea. I still think that if I were to go there, I would do very well. During my visit (last week), Oregon paid for both my parents to go. But I usually take my little sister on my visits, and when we looked at plane tickets, they were like $450 for her. With my mom being laid off, it was financially going to be nearly impossible for them to be able to come support me and give me the support I need.
“So with my mom losing her job, she’s going to be a provider for my grandma just to get a few dollars flowing in. And then, you know, I think it’ll just be a lot easier if I stayed home. I came to the decision that I’ll be able to support my mom financially. It doesn’t happen every day that an 18-year-old has to try and help support his family. It’s tough. But I mean, you have to make it work. That’s the reason why I’m not going to Oregon anymore. It was going to be too much for my parents. I know a lot of people don’t understand it, but recruits, players, we’re all human like everybody else. We deal with real-life situations. It was something that was important to me, my faith, family and football, and my education.”
During his recruitment as a high school prospect, Steele originally committed to UCLA, then maintained a verbal commitment to USC from early July through mid-October of last year. He then committed to Florida in January and enrolled there, before requesting a transfer. In his subsequent commitment to Oregon, Steele cited his relationship with the Ducks coaches as an important factor, but it appears the USC coaches have done enough in a short amount of time have convinced him along with his personal family devotion to stay close to home.
It will be lost a bit in the dialogue surrounding his circuitous route and the multiple commitments, but the 6-foot-2, 190-pound cornerback is a terrific prospect and would be a huge addition to the defensive back room, even if he is ultimately not eligible to play this season.
Steele says he will major in journalism/business at USC.