LA Wildcats face hometown school, USC, on Thursday
Being offered a football scholarship by USC can be a dream come true for high school athletes. So it may come as a surprise that Arizona’s roster, which features more than 100 student-athletes, roughly 30 of whom come from the greater Los Angeles area, has only two players who were offered a scholarship by USC, the Wildcats’ week six opponent.
“Last year, I asked the team [who had been recruited by USC],” said head coach Rich Rodriguez. “Three guys raised their hands and said they were recruited, and two of them were lying.”
Arizona senior linebacker Marquis Flowers was the only one who was telling the truth. While attending Millennium High School in Goodyear, Ariz., he was offered 13 scholarships, including one from USC, by the time he graduated in 2010.
Reserve junior Wildcat quarterback Jesse Scroggins is a Lakewood, Calif., native. After graduating from Lakewood High School, he attended USC and played for the Trojans from 2010 to 2011 before transferring.
Cole Malham/The Daily Wildcat
With so many players on Arizona’s roster not being offered a scholarship from USC, one would think that the Wildcats would be looking to use Thursday’s game to prove the Trojan skeptics wrong.
“I don’t care about that any more,” said senior cornerback and Carson, Calif., native Shaquille Richardson. “I’m happy [I’m] here.”
Last week, Rodriguez acknowledged the extra weight and gravity that comes with being offered a scholarship from a school that has had six Heisman winners and claimed 11 national titles.
“I think 99.9 percent of the team [wishes they had been recruited by USC],” Rodriguez said. “I hope it motivates them, but when the ball is snapped, all of that motivational stuff kind of goes out the window.”
The Wildcats play the Trojans Thursday night which will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.
“There always seems to be a little more attention when you play [USC], but in the end, Thursday’s game doesn’t matter any more than if we were playing another conference opponent,” Richardson said.
Richardson added that playing in front of his family and friends will be more motivation than playing against a school that didn’t want him.
A win in Thursday’s game at USC would separate the Wildcats from the bottom half of the Pac-12 South. It would also most likely keep them just one game behind first place UCLA, allowing them to stay within arm’s length of the conference championship game.
“There is never a week where we aren’t motivated,” Richardson said. “We have a team goal and that’s what motivates us each week. Not stuff that we [no longer] have control over.”
— Follow Luke Della @LukeDella