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August 1, 2011

Vatuvei fulfills his dream

Patterson (Calif.) defensive end Pio Vatuvei blew up this spring to the tune of more than a dozen scholarship offers.

Hitting camps at USC and Cal, as well as NIKE events in Northern California and Oregon, Vatuvei became a hot commodity in the PAC-12. USC was the one school on the West Coast holding back a scholarship offer.

That was until Monday afternoon.

"I called coach [Clay] Helton today just to check in," said Vatuvei. "I basically talk to him every week, and when he answered this week, he said he had some good news for me.

"He said the staff had a meeting about me and that coach [Lane] Kiffin wanted to offer me. He put coach Kiffin on the phone and that's when I told him that I was ready to be 150-percent committed to the Trojans."

While Vatuvei's commitment appears sudden, he has thought long and hard about today's events hypothetically.

"Yeah, after the camp, I knew I could get an offer from them," said Vatuvei. "I talked about it with my mom and dad. If USC commits to an offer, am I ready to commit to that offer?

"I always said, that I would commit on the spot and that's what I did. the coaches were pretty pumped up and happy for me."

Vatuvei's feelings for USC were a culmination of a childhood dream mixed with the relationship he had built with the coaching staff at this year's Rising Stars Camp.

"It's everything about USC," said Vatuvei. "USC is the best of both worlds athletically and academically. I love coach Kiffin and coach [Ed] Orgeron and really want to play for those guys.

"Also, my main recruiter, coach Helton, I love that guy as well. He stuck with me through it all. I'd call him every week to talk and see how he was doing. In the end, it's USC and you just can't go wrong with that."

At 6-foot-3, 265-pounds, Vatuvei has the ability to play defensive end or grow into a defensive tackle.

"The coaches didn't talk to me specifically about a position, but I think I can come in and play defensive end for them," said Vatuvei. "It really doesn't matter where I play on the defensive line. I'm at about 6-foot-3, 265, 270-pounds right now. I'll play anywhere the coaching staff needs me at."

With scholarship offers from eight PAC-12 schools, Vatuvei had plenty of options to choose from before committing to USC. He may still explore a couple of those options.

"USC is kind of it for me, but I might take one or two visits still," said Vatuvei. "Arizona, Utah, Washington and Cal would be the schools I still look at for visits."

Vatuvei plans on graduating in the summer of 2012, so he is not an early enrollee candidate for USC. He becomes commitment No. 10 for the Trojans.

Vatuvei is also the second prospect in two years to be recruited by USC as a defensive lineman who doubles as a running back in high school. In 2011, the Trojans signed Mira Costa (Calif.) three-star defensive tackle J.R. Tavai, who shared the distinction of rusher and pass rusher.

As a junior, Vatuvei has 12.5 sacks as a defensive end for Patterson.

"I think I'm going to get the ball more this year on offense," said Vatuvei. "I was used mostly as a blocking back last season, but I still had 500 yards rushing. This year, I want to get at least 1,000 yards."

USCFootball.com will continue to bring you the latest on Pio Vatuvei as his senior season gets underway.












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