In His Own Words: Miller Moss Commits to USC Over Alabama, LSU, UCLA
Miller Moss is one of the top quarterback prospects in the 2021 class with scholarship offers from elite programs coast to coast. He has agreed to give Sports Illustrated exclusive access into his world by chronicling everything from his experiences leading up to a college commitment as a high profile recruit to his home life and preparation for his senior season.
Hey guys, I hope you're all doing well.
I know I've been absent for a couple weeks, but believe it or not recruited athletes are also subject to AP exams and finals just like the rest of us. Have been dealing with that stuff but I've got some really big news that I'm excited to share.
First off, I just want to hit on why the recruitment process was so lengthy for me and why it was such a tough decision. I think if you look at a regular quarterback recruitment timeline, it's usually complete before now. I felt like I had a uniquely lengthened and interesting process and I kind of want to get into why.
I'm someone who's interested in a multitude of things. I think that ranges from football to academics, to what is going on socially now, just a wide range of things. Part of that made me interested in a lot of really different schools. I think you saw that in my final four. Each school provided something unique that gave me a specific opportunity that made that particular school special.
I think if you look at this being a solely academic decision, that might eliminate LSU and Alabama. If you look at this as me making purely a football decision, that probably puts Alabama and LSU right there at the top. But even then, you have to choose between Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia and all the other schools that recruit you. Because of that, it made it a particularly difficult decision.
As many of you know, I'm committed to USC as of 2 p.m. west coast time, 5 east coast time. I couldn't be happier with the decision that I've made. When I break down my decision, it comes down to two things.
The first thing would be the more emotional feel that USC has to me. I grew up wearing Matt Barkley's jersey to the park, Mark Sanchez's jersey to the park. I could tell you where I was when Sam Darnold won the Rose Bowl and he threw that ball to Deontay Burnett over the middle. The idea that I have this opportunity to do the things that those guys have done is still surreal to me. It's still something that I haven't completely wrapped my head around. USC was my school growing up and obviously I'm an L.A. kid. It's hard, growing up in that area, to not be partial to USC.
The second, and more important reason I chose SC, is the practical one. I think part of me had to throw all of that emotional partialness, so to speak, out the window when choosing a school. As much as you want a certain thing to that to happen, if it doesn't make sense, then you have to make the right decision for you. For me, I feel that USC is a program that belongs on the national stage, they belong in the top five. Yes they've struggled over the past two years, but I have 100% belief that the program will be a top 10 team next year and will be a top five team in America going forward.
I have absolute belief in Coach (Graham) Harrell, Coach (Clay) Helton and Coach (Todd) Orlando on the defensive side. I think that's somewhere that they struggled last year and they upgraded their coaching staff and their players in that situation. It's a really, really good situation for me. Walking into the quarterback room, I feel like I can have success early and have success often. I think that being able to learn from a guy like Kedon (Slovis), who came in behind maybe the most decorated high school quarterback ever in J.T. Daniels, and just absolutely grinded and fought his way to having the success that he's had. It's going to be really, really special for me to learn under and also compete with on a daily basis.
I also think that in terms of life outside of ball, USC sets me up to be very very successful down the road. It's a top 20 university in America and L.A., to me, is the greatest city in the world. Having the opportunity to go to school here is special to me. I want to live in L.A. when I'm older and I think being the quarterback at USC allows you to build that network to have success later in life. I think if you look at guys like Matt Barkley and Matt Leinart, they've done that and had huge success not only on the field but off as well.
USC made a lot of sense to me for a multitude of reasons. Yes, it was my school growing up. Yes, it was my "dreams school." But it also made a ton of sense for me in terms of a lot of practical reasons. I can't be happier and I can't be more excited to go in there and have as much success as I can. Compete. Make the team better and bring USC back to the national stage.
The flip side of choosing a school is that you have to tell the other schools you're not going there. I think this is a part of recruitment that no one really talks about. I certainly never thought about it until I actually had to do it.
These are really, really hard conversations.
I think if you handled the process right, you owe the head coach at that school a phone call. This might sound weird to a lot of you but it's almost like a break up. You develop really, really good relationships with guys all the way from Los Angeles, Calif. to Ann Arbor, Mich. to Cambridge, Mass. and Baton Rouge, La. It's a really interesting process. You build a lot of relationships and come to care for a lot of these people outside of football, which I think is, at the end of the day, what the recruitment process is all about. Having to sit down as a 17, 18 year-old kid and call a grown man and tell him, 'I'm sorry, thank you, but I won't be coming to your school' is something that's really hard.
On the flip side of how it is for us it also shows a lot about the school in terms of how they handle that news. If they're gracious about it and they say, 'you know what? Of course we wanted you, we're very upset but we know every kid has a school for them and we wish you nothing but the best and we're going to be okay' -- then it gives you a tremendous amount of respect for that institution. I think having some of those phone calls really showed me, to an even further extent, why these programs are what they are.
Talking to Coach Sark (Steve Sarkisian) at Alabama, obviously we developed a very close relationship. I was as close with him as any coach throughout the process. Having to tell him I wasn't coming to Alabama was a hard conversation, a grown-man conversation so to speak. But the way he handled it gave me way more respect for the institution that Alabama is and the person that he is. It made me more comfortable in that I made the right decision in having them so involved in my process. Alabama is not going to live and die on the commitment of Miller Moss. They're gonna be just fine either way, that's who Alabama is. The way they handled that showed me why they are the pinnacle of college football.
The same can be said for LSU. Obviously they're not where Alabama is in terms of the history but they've been really successful in the past couple years. The way they handled it shows as well. They said 'best of luck' and they threw in a, 'see you soon!' Which I'm not sure what that meant [laughing] but it made me have a lot more respect for those schools.
Coach (Chip) Kelly and I had an unusually strong head coach to recruit relationship. Because of this, the call to him was particularly difficult. This was thought a doubt an uncomfortable conversation, but at its conclusion, I left with great respect for Coach Kelly and no reservations about investing the time I did at UCLA.
The fact that they can understand that from my point of view made me respect the schools so much more, it's something people don't really touch on in their recruiting process. Having to tell these schools no is hard. It's an interesting thing and probably not something a lot of kids at 17 years old haven't had to do. Call a 65 year-old guy and say, 'hey I'm really sorry. Thank you for investing the last year in me but it's not gonna happen with us.' I think that's a hard thing to do and I think it's undervalued.
Just to conclude, I hope this kind of provides a unique insight into me and my recruitment, how I approached it and how I handled it in wrapping it up.
I hope all of you are doing well. Healthy and safe, especially now in these crazy times in our country. I really look forward to continuing to speak with all of you and really share my story as everything unfolds in my life in the coming weeks.