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PREP FOOTBALL: Vista Murrieta's Cravens picks USC

03/04/2013, 2:17pm PST
By By LANDON NEGRI lnegri@californian.com

TEMECULA ---- Su'a Cravens wouldn't deny his mother. Certainly not on her birthday.

TEMECULA ---- Su'a Cravens wouldn't deny his mother. Certainly not on her birthday.

Cravens, probably the most highly recruited football player to ever come out of the Valley, announced Wednesday morning in a gathering at his family's home that he has committed to USC.

The decision ended a long and exhausting recruiting process that saw Cravens, a 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker from Vista Murrieta High, field interest from just about every Division I school.

Recruited as a safety, Cravens is rated the No. 8 prospect in the 2013 class by rivals.com. He chose USC over Ohio State and Michigan for a number of reasons, one of which was because his mother, Yolanda ---- who also goes by her middle name, Crystal ---- is a Trojans fan. Wednesday's announcement, which came in the backdrop of the family's garage, where hundreds of cards and letters from major universities hang on the walls and the ceiling, came on her birthday.

"I think if I would have announced anywhere else, my mom would have killed me," Cravens joked.

Said Yolanda Cravens: "I was hoping for USC ---- for sure. But this was up to him."

Cravens totaled 100 tackles, 11 sacks and three interceptions in the 2011 season. Vista Murrieta shrugged off five nonleague forfeits to win the CIF Southern Section Inland Division Championship with a 35-28 triumph in December over Corona Centennial.

On Wednesday, Cravens drew a correlation between his high school team's plight in forfeiting games for using an ineligible player and the USC program, which maintained a level of success despite sanctions levied on it in the wake of the Reggie Bush impropriety scandal.

It also helped that before fifth grade, Cravens' family lived in Los Angeles, not far from USC's campus.

"I loved all three schools, though I didn't get to see Ohio State and Michigan, but that didn't count them out any," he said. "It really came down to where I felt at home and where I felt most comfortable."

Cravens, who made the announcement as he was flanked by grandparents, parents, siblings and high school head coach Coley Candaele, said he may take other trips. In particular, he named Ohio State and Michigan.

But he also reiterated his commitment to the Trojans.

"(USC is) open to me tripping and stuff like that, but they're not worried," he said. "... I'm not a guy to go back on my word."

Cravens said he plans to graduate early and go to USC at the semester break. This past year saw a growing trend with that scenario, with both C.J. Dozier (Arizona) and Matt Morin (San Diego State) leaving Chaparral at the end of their first semester to enroll in college early.

"Su'a had this all planned out," Candaele said. "Of course, he would have liked to have waited longer (to commit), but I think this works out perfectly. ...

"This allows him to relax a little bit."

Cravens would join an outstanding recruiting class at USC that includes commitments from the country's top quarterback, Max Browne, and the top running back, Ty Isaac, according to maxpreps.com.

Getting some time on offense, where last year he ran 75 times for 673 yards and 15 touchdowns while also catching 20 passes for 339 yards and four scores, could be a possibility, Cravens said.

Asked where Cravens projects as a Division I college player, Candaele had a simple answer.

"I think anywhere on the field is the best spot for him," he said.

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