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Monday, July 8, 2013
Q&A: Calhoun discusses commitment

By Blair Angulo

Four-star outside linebacker D.J. Calhoun (El Cerrito, Calif./El Cerrito) committed to USC while competing at The Opening last week, giving the Trojans their first verbal pledge from a skill position player. He discussed his decision with WeAreSC:

WeAreSC: When did you know USC was going to be the school?

Calhoun: I would say it was probably a week or so before I committed. I kept going back and forth between them and UCLA, but I was speaking with my grandmother and grandfather, and they helped me with things. My sister goes there, so that’s a plus. You don’t really get to go to school with your siblings, especially college. They have great support in school and great football tradition. The coaches welcomed me with open arms when I first came in there, and they went straight to the academic part of things, which I liked. Overall, I can see myself there. It really hit me a lot after I committed. On Sunday, I visited my uncle, who recorded my commitment. We were watching it on his TV, so when I saw it, I was like, “Wow.”

WeAreSC: Speaking of academics, you’re planning to enroll early. What majors are you looking at?

Calhoun: I have a variety of options, and I’m not for sure right now, but I’m interested in the environment and community affairs. There’s a lot of stuff.

WeAreSC: What was the reaction of the coaching staff when you informed them of your decision?

Calhoun: The main person who has been recruiting me is coach Clay Helton. He’s like a father figure. We had some good conversations during junior day. Right after I committed, I called him, and he was screaming. It was me, him and my dad talking on the phone, and coach Helton was telling my dad he was going to take care of me, especially with school. It was great.

WeAreSC: Was there any hesitation on your end given the uncertainty surrounding the coaching staff, which might not be there when you arrive on campus?

Calhoun: I have faith in the coaching staff. I didn’t really base my decision on any of that stuff. I just wanted to get my commitment done with and focus on my senior season.

WeAreSC: With the commitment out of the way, do you know if you’ll take some official visits to other schools this fall?

Calhoun: I might just take visits, but I’m for sure sticking with USC.

WeAreSC: There were a handful of guys up at The Opening who USC is targeting. Is recruiting others, like teammate Adarius Pickett, to join you in Los Angeles the next step in this process?

Calhoun: Yes, definitely. Ever since I committed I’ve been trying to recruit a lot of people, telling them about the school. You don’t have football forever. By getting a degree from USC, you can get any job you want.

WeAreSC: If you could have four other recruits join you in USC’s class next year, who would they be?

Calhoun: Adarius Pickett, Joe Mixon, Kevin Griffin, who is committed to Washington State, and Michael Lazarus.

WeAreSC: USC signed Michael Hutchings, another linebacker from Northern California, last year. What’s your relationship with him like?

Calhoun: That’s my guy. He actually played with my brother, too. Playing alongside him has been another big factor in my decision. I like the way he plays, and I’ve known him for a while. Having somebody you know take you under their wing will be excellent.

WeAreSC: You mentioned going back and forth between USC and UCLA. With many similarities between the two -- both in Los Angeles, good academes and nice campuses -- was there one thing that made the difference?

Calhoun: With UCLA offering me first, it made me wonder why USC couldn’t offer me, too. But then I sat down and talked to the USC coaches and realized their recruiting process is slower. They only have so many offers they can give out, so they have to be sure and take their time. Both schools are similar, but USC has a lot more tradition. When I visited UCLA, it was all about football, which is fine, since that’s what I love and mainly what I want to hear. But when I came to USC, they went straight to academics. They told me they have a lot of guys graduate in three years, which is amazing. The academic part was the difference.

WeAreSC: Did your sister [Deanna Calhoun], who plays on the women’s basketball team, play a large role as well?

Calhoun: Definitely. I can go support her at her games, and she can do the same at my games. We’re a dynamic duo. It’s going to strengthen our relationship.

WeAreSC: Do you expect other schools, namely UCLA, to keep recruiting you now that you have committed?

Calhoun: To be honest, I don’t know. When I make a commitment, I stick with it. I’m a man of my word. So I don’t know about UCLA or any others. Since they’re a rival school, they’re probably real mad.