Class of 2018 USC offensive line pledge Liam Douglass did more than his part in helping his Studio City (Calif.) Harvard-Westlake team to come away with a crucial 53-23 victory over Angelus League foe Pasadena (Calif.) La Salle this past weekend, and not just on the offensive side of the ball.
In fact, it was at defensive tackle where he came up with the most memorable play of the night when he scooped up a La Salle fumble and rumbled 21 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Putting the Wolverines up by 22 points at the time, it essentially iced the victory for a Harvard-Westlake team that finished the regular season with a record of 8-2.
“It was a twist between the end and the tackle,” said Douglass in describing the play, “and the defensive line did a great job in disrupting the exchange between the quarterback and the running back, and I was just there to make the play and to run it back.”
Coming just one week after he hauled in a 24-yard touchdown pass on a tackle-eligible play in a loss to La Canada (Calif.) St. Francis, Douglass put on quite a show after the score against La Salle with a dance in the end zone that got his teammates as well as the fans in attendance fired up.
“I scored last week and once we got over the loss, everyone looked at the film and they were like, ‘you know, you didn’t have a great celebration,’” Douglass said. “I really didn’t plan it out, it just came to me in the moment. I think it was a combination of the Lebron and the Aaron Rodgers discount double check. It was fun.”
Douglass had been floating completely under the radar until this past summer when he started to gain attention and pull in some offers, with the Trojans throwing their hat in the ring following a standout performance at USC’s Elite Camp in June. Douglass wasted no time in jumping on that offer, and he’s just as solid in his pledge today as when he gave it.
“I’m 100 percent committed,” Douglass said. “There’s nothing that’s going to sway my commitment. I talk to Coach [Neil] Callaway every week, and I’m in contact with them pretty much every day. So, I’m 100 percent all-in on being a Trojan and being a part of that Trojan family.”
Contributing to the strength of Douglass’ commitment is the fact that he grew up a Trojans fan.
“My dad actually went to Pepperdine, and his alma mater doesn’t have football, so as I was growing up he always used to watch USC games,” Douglass said. “SO, I’d always grown up in a USC household, and on Saturdays I always watched USC play. It’s been kind of a dream of mine to go there. The goal was never to play football there, it was just to get there. Being able to be a part of that family – that football family – is such a blessing. The academics are incredible, the alumni network is so strong.”
Currently standing 6-foot-5 and 280-pounds, Douglass is athletic enough that he’s actually seen periodic duty at running back, and he’s also made an impact along the defensive line, but it’s at right tackle where he has spent most of his time this season. When it comes to his future at USC, he’ll be lining up somewhere on the offensive line, but Callaway isn’t quite sure where just yet.
“Coach Callaway sees me as a guy who can play all five positions on that line,” Douglass said. “I see myself as someone who can do that as well. So, they haven’t zeroed in on a specific position yet.”
Douglass’ versatility is definitely part of what makes him such a unique prospect, and it’s all the more surprising when you consider the fact that this is just his second year playing organized tackle football. He focused primarily on baseball during his first two years in high school, but after making a strong plea to his parents, he was eventually given the green light to give football a try.
Standing just 6-3 ½ and 218 pounds as a junior, he worked hard last offseason to build himself up into the player that he is today, and he’s spent just as much time on the mental and technical aspects of the game as well.
“It’s been quite a journey,” Douglass said. “I’ve spent a lot of time in the weight room, and also just trying to increase my football IQ, and trying to understand the game a little bit better. Obviously, there’s still so much to clean up and so much to work on technique-wise, but I think if you look at the film from the beginning of last year to some of the film of this year, it’s definitely a lot better.”
One more contributing factor in the growth of Douglass as a player has been the influence of former Trojans and NFL offensive lineman Kristofer O’Dowd, who served as a coach on the middle school team at Harvard-Westlake last season.
“[Harvard-Westlake Head Coach Scot Ruggles] had him come out and watch me, and he was really the first one outside of Coach Ruggles and my family to tell me, ‘oh, there’s something there,’ so I’m forever grateful for that,” Douglass said. “We text all the time, just talking about stuff that went on in practice and how I can fix that. And he’s someone that I look up to, and I grew up watching him play – obviously, I didn’t know who he was at the time, but growing up and seeing him play at center, and just be such a dominating center. And he’s also helped me increase my football IQ, so he’s just really been a great mentor and a great role model, and someone that I look up to.”
Douglass has made it to all but one of the Trojans’ home games this season, and he plans to be back in the Coliseum when USC plays host to UCLA on Nov. 18. His lone official visit will be to USC, but the exact date on that is not set yet.
Before anything else, however, Douglass and his Harvard-Westlake teammates have a big CIF Southern Section Division 5 first-round playoff game coming up this Friday at Santa Maria (Calif.) St. Joseph.
News and notes
* Star Class of 2018 defensive end Tyreke Smith (Cleveland Heights, Ohio/Cleveland Heights) released his new top 5, and the Trojans made the cut along with Alabama, Ohio State, Oregon and Penn State. He will announce his decision at the 2018 Under Armour All-America Game on Jan. 4. Smith took an official visit to USC in September.
* It’s been a busy past week for the Trojans on the recruiting trail as the staff dished out new offers to the prospects listed below:
RB Jeremy Banks (Cordova, Tenn./Cordova)
WR Chris Olave (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills)
DE George Karlaftis (West Lafayette, Ind./West Lafayette) – Purdue commit
OL Jahmir Johnson (Yuma, Ariz./Arizona Western College)
DT Caleb Tremblay (Sacramento, Calif./American River College)
TE Dominick Wood-Anderson (Yuma, Ariz./Arizona Western College)
A look at the stats some USC recruits recorded in their games this past weekend
Class of 2018
* LB Palaie Gaoteote (Las Vegas, Nev./Bishop Gorman) – USC commit
– Had seven tackles, three quarterback hurries, and he also blocked a punt in a 59-0 victory over Las Vegas (Nev.) Palo Verde.
* WR Andre Hunt (Lancaster, Calif./Paraclete) – USC commit
– Had touchdown catches of 80, 26 and 16 yards, and he also recorded a sack in a 26-7 victory over Chatsworth (Calif.) Sierra Canyon.
* CB Marcus Johnson (Villa Park, Calif./Villa Park) – USC commit
– Rushed for 23 yards on eight carries, caught three passes for 28 yards, and he also amassed eight tackles (5 solo) including one for a loss in a 35-31 victory over Yorba Linda (Calif.).
* RB Mychale Salahuddin (Washington, D.C./Woodson) – USC commit
– Had seven carries for 79 yards and one touchdown in a 41-13 victory over Washington (D.C.) Ballou.
* RB Jeremy Banks (Cordova, Tenn./Cordova)
– Rushed for 127 yards and four touchdowns on 12 carries in a 41-40 loss to Memphis (Tenn.) Central.
* S Halid Djibril (Los Angeles, Calif./Cathedral)
– Had 10 tackles (7 solo) including one for a loss, and four pass deflections in a 28-16 victory over La Canada (Calif.) St. Francis.
* TE Michael Ezeike (Ontario, Calif./Colony)
– Caught five passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns in a 46-7 victory over Alta Loma (Calif.).
* WR John Jackson (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
– Had two receptions for 20 yards in a 24-20 victory over Long Beach (Calif.) Poly.
* LB Merlin Robertson (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
– Caught a 25-yard touchdown pass, and he had 11 tackles (6 solo) including two for a loss and one sack in the victory over Long Beach Poly.
* WR Kobe Smith (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
– Caught six passes for 44 yards and one touchdown in the victory over Long Beach Poly.
* WR Amon-Ra St. Brown (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei)
– Caught five passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns in a 51-7 victory over Anaheim (Calif.) Servite.
* LB Solomon Tuliaupupu (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei)
– Had four tackles (all solo) in the victory over Servite.
* WR Devon Williams (Lancaster, Calif./Antelope Valley)
– Had five receptions for 132 yards and two touchdowns in a 43-0 victory over Lancaster (Calif.) Eastside.
Class of 2019
* QB JT Daniels (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) – USC commit
– Completed 25 of 32 passes for 347 yards and five touchdowns, and ran for 50 yards on four carries in the victory over Servite.
* ATH De’Gabriel Floyd (Santa Clarita, Calif./Golden Valley) – USC commit
– Had eight carries for 122 yards and two touchdowns, and he caught five passes for 89 yards and one touchdown in a 34-12 victory over Valencia (Calif.) West Ranch.
* CB Jeremiah Criddell (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga)
– Caught four passes for 106 yards and one touchdown, and he also rushed for 20 yards on one carry in a 62-14 victory over Chino Hills (Calif.).
* WR Joshua Delgado (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco)
– Had four receptions for 100 yards and two touchdowns in a 51-10 victory over San Juan Capistrano (Calif.) JSerra.
* RB Sean Dollars (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Rancho Cucamonga)
– Rushed for 107 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries in the victory over Chino Hills.
* WR/LB Bru McCoy (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei)
– Caught five passes for 64 yards and three touchdowns in the victory over Servite.
* DE Kayvon Thibodeaux (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian)
– Compiled five tackles (4 solo), three sacks and seven QB hurries in a 42-7 victory over Westlake Village (Calif.) Westlake.
* CB Max Williams (Gardena, Calif./Serra)
– Had six tackles (all solo) in the victory over Long Beach Poly.
Class of 2020
* QB D.J. Uiagalelei (Bellflower, Calif./St. John Bosco)
– Completed 17 of 25 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns, and he also rushed for 31 yards and one touchdown on four carries in the victory over JSerra.
* QB Bryce Young (Los Angeles, Calif./Cathedral)
– Completed 22 of 28 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns, and he also rushed for 42 yards on 10 carries in the victory over St. Francis.