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July 3, 2013BEAVERTON, ORE -- Four-star El Cerrito (Calif.) linebacker Derik Calhoun made somewhat of a surprise announcement moments ago when he made his decision to commit to USC public.
"I'm making my commitment to USC," Calhoun said. "It really came down to the coaches. I love the coaches at USC.
"Plus, USC has such great tradition. When I went up there in spring, Coach [Clay] Helton showed me around. I love the history and winning there.
"I talk to the coaches a lot and have a great relationship with them. The coaches just made me feel welcome. Coach Helton is the one who recruited me up there. And academically, I can go to USC and graduate early within three years.
"Honestly, it's everything about USC."
The turning point in Calhoun's recruitment appeared to be last May when he, cornerback Adarius Pickett and running back Joe Mixon took an unofficial visit to USC.
"It was really big, just in general," Calhoun said. "Seeing USC's academics really made a difference. The lifestyle is calm and relaxed.
"You can party anytime, but you know if you focus and get the job done, it's all there for you."
Calhoun was set to go through his official visits before making a commitment.
"What changed was that I wanted to get this over with," said Calhoun. "I really wanted to commit, keep in touch with my new coaches and then concentrate on balling out for my team. We want to win a state championship this year."
Interestingly, USC found out about Calhoun's decision when it aired on television Wednesday.
"They knew when to tune in, but I didn't actually tell them I was coming," Calhoun said. "I've been keeping quiet about it with everyone.
"You see a lot of recruits wanting to commit to USC or UCLA. It's a hard choice."
Throughout his football career, Calhoun has lost friends and loved ones. Those losses have been turned inward as motivation on the field.
"I lost two teammates in three years, and then I just lost my granny recently," said Calhoun. "That sort of thing, losing people. It just makes you angry.
"I use that anger, that hurt to go out on the football field and crush it. The NFL guys spoke to us last night and asked what inspired us - what motivates us. That's my thing. I play angry."
In previous interviews, it became obvious that the Trojans went to great lengths to impress the playmaking linebacker from El Cerrito.
According to Calhoun and his father, the Trojans rolled out the cardinal and gold carpet. The USC staff broke down where Calhoun will fit in their new 5-2 scheme.
"They see me in the middle, and a lot of coaches see me at middle," Calhoun said. "They really don't care about my size. They know I have heart and I love to hit."
At The Opening, Calhoun measured in at 5-foot-11 1/2, 200-pounds, running a 4.66 in the 40-yard dash while posting a 30.9 vertical leap.
Calhoun said Monday that he is leaning toward visiting only the school that he commits to. As a midyear graduate, Calhoun will end his recruitment in December instead of February.
"I might take a visit, but it's probably just to see what a school's about," he said. "Nine out of 10 times though, I'm probably just going to visit the school I've committed to."
And Calhoun is clearly excited to get to USC as soon as a possible.
"I'm juiced," he laughed. "To know you've already finished high school and know you're going to USC to join the team and meet the guys?
"I'm excited. I want to hit the weight room, get bigger and try to win a starting spot."
In Calhoun, the Trojans land a player who was League Defensive Player of the Year as a junior. He also earned all-metro, all-area, and all-league after racking up approximately 120 tackles and 11 sacks. He also scored seven touchdowns including three on special teams, two on offense and two defensive touchdowns.
Calhoun selects USC over UCLA, Cal, Miami and Arizona State. Considering Calhoun was once a favorite to commit to the Bruins, this is a big win for the Trojans.
Getting Calhoun will also undoubtedly have an influence on four-star cornerback and teammate Adarius Pickett when he makes his decision later this year.
"It's 50-50 because, yeah, I'm going there, and he already likes the school, but then again you never know with Adarius," said Calhoun. "Everybody has to be their own man.
"He might choose a different school because he's waiting until the end of the year and he has a lot more time to process information."
For video, analysis and stories on Derik Calhoun and The Opening, stay tuned to USCFootball.com.