- Blair Angulo, Reporter, WeAreSC.com
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LOS ANGELES -- Defensive tackle Tashon Smallwood (Fresno, Calif./Central) surprised himself on Sunday afternoon by committing to USC at the Trojans’ junior day event shortly after landing an offer from assistant coach Ed Orgeron.
Smallwood admitted he never gave much thought to committing this early, but USC felt like the perfect place. The lineman had seen enough and made his decision.
“I never really thought about it,” Smallwood said with a laugh. “The recruiting process has picked up for me, but this offer came up and USC seemed like the best place for me. I’m excited.”
With the 2014 national signing day still nearly a full calendar year away, Smallwood knows this might not be the final event in his recruitment. But if college coaches come calling, he’ll make sure to let them know where he stands.
“I’m going to tell them I’m a Trojan,” Smallwood said.
Smallwood credited a comfortable relationship with Orgeron and the rest of the coaching staff as a major reason for committing while he was on campus. He wasn’t necessarily unfamiliar with the Trojans -- Smallwood and high school teammates Devon Brewer and Michiah Quick unofficially visited USC for the Oregon game last fall.
“Coach O and the whole coaching staff are awesome,” Smallwood said. “The way he coaches defensive lineman. It just fits my style and I couldn’t wait.”
Once the announcement came, Smallwood made Orgeron lose his appetite.
“He was so happy that he couldn’t eat,” Smallwood said. “We were eating when I told him and as soon as that happened he couldn’t eat.”
Smallwood said the coaching staff sees him as a nose tackle, as either a one- or three-technique. The 6-foot, 270-pound lineman also has offers from Cal, Houston, Nevada, Oklahoma and Oregon State.
“Coach [Clancy] Pendergast is going to be great for them,” Smallwood said. “They’ll be a lot better defensively than they were last year. The scheme is really aggressive and I feel it fits me perfectly.”
Smallwood became the fourth member of the 2014 recruiting class that currently features three ESPN Watch List offensive linemen.