Southern California coach Lane Kiffin landed highly-rated offensive line recruit Cyrus Hobbi on Friday, but it wasn’t without a big assist from a man who now coaches more than 1,000 miles away.
When Hobbi, a four-star prospect by recruiting sites Rivals.com and Scout.com, originally visited USC this summer, it didn’t go well. The Trojans were in the midst of getting hit with NCAA sanctions that resulted in a loss of bowl games and scholarships, and Kiffin and Co. did such a poor job of recruiting the Saguaro offensive lineman that he considered dropping them from his list of schools right away.
“At one point, because ASU and UCLA were pretty high on me, I thought, ‘No, I don’t want to go to USC,’” Hobbi said.
However, much like a first love, Hobbi couldn’t give up on the Trojans that easily.
Two years before, when Hobbi was a sophomore, then-USC coach Pete Carroll - who now coaches the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks - visited Saguaro to woo defensive tackle Corey Adams. Carroll, known for his infectious personality, took photos and talked with the other Sabercat players, too. While Adams eventually chose Arizona State, Hobbi was swept up in the excitement of the Trojan mystique, which was at the height of its success.
“He thought, ‘Wow, this is the Trojans. This is big time,’” Saguaro coach John Sanders said. “A lot of those kids back then were looking at USC like they were the Western (version) of Alabama. He was enamored with SC. So at the end of the day, if he really thought that much of SC, I said, ‘Let’s give them a chance.’”
So Hobbi let them hang around, and the more he talked to Kiffin and the team’s other coaches, the more he bought in.
“I gave them another chance, and I’m so glad I did,” Hobbi said.
It wasn’t an easy choice.
Hobbi considered both the Bruins and Sun Devils until Thursday, but eventually decided on USC. Hobbi said he likes the tradition of the school, and as an aspiring actor, liked the proximity to Hollywood.
Hobbi said USC’s current highly-rated recruiting class should cushion the blow of losing scholarships down the line. He also downplayed the fact that the Trojans are ineligible for a bowl game next season.
"As the coaches explained to me, we'll just be playing 51 games instead of 52 (in his career)," Hobbi said.
USC will likely play Hobbi at either offensive guard or center. He is the second-highest rated offensive line recruit in Arizona, behind Hamilton’s Christian Westerman, who chose Auburn.
The highest rated unsigned recruit in the East Valley is now Corona del Sol’s Todd Peat. He is expected to announce his decision on Wednesday. Peat is likely choosing between Arizona State, Oregon State and Nebraska.