Mammoth offensive lineman Zach Banner (Lakewood, Wash./Lakes) announced at a school assembly moments ago that he will be playing his college ball at USC.
The 6-foot-8, 305-pound Banner, ranked No. 122 in the ESPNU 150 and No. 15 among offensive linemen, had narrowed his choices to include the hometown Washington Huskies and Oklahoma Sooners. He took visits to all three schools, plus Michigan and Notre Dame, but the Trojans always seemed to be where Banner's heart was.
"Everything I was looking for, USC had and then some," Banner said. "They're going to be a pre-season top five team next year and competing for a national championship. Five years ago, they were competing for a championship, and when I leave, they'll still be competing for championships, that's just who they are.
"I want to major in broadcasting and what better place to do that than in the second-largest media market in the country. That's what I want to do my undergrad in. I would love to do my postgraduate work in law, and USC has one of the nation's top law school programs, as well."
Banner said his relationship with the Trojans coaches was a big deal, as well.
"I love coach [Lane] Kiffin and James Cregg, the OL coach -- that's my guy right there," Banner said. "Me and coach Cregg, we're boys, man. He's my dude, and we're going to have a lot of fun together. People are going to see me and him laughing a ton and chest bumping each other after I pancaked someone that led to a long touchdown run. They're going to see him chewing out my backside when I blow it, too, and that's fine, because that’s how I want to be coached.
"Right now, my goal is to come in and win that left tackle spot. That's all I'm thinking about. The coaches have been telling me from day one that they want me to win that spot. I think they knew Matt Kalil was leaving, so they said that spot was mine if I earned it, and that's what I'm planning to do. Now, will I play another position if I don't win that job? Heck yeah. I'll do whatever coach Kiffin wants me to do, but I want that left tackle spot."
Banner said no matter where he plays his college ball, he'll always be a Washington guy and hopes the in-state fans will still support him.
"Lakes will always be my home," Banner said. "The hardest part about this decision, and the thing that I was very nervous about, was letting down the hometown Husky fans. They have been great with me and supported me like crazy over the last four years. I hope they can still be Zach Banner fans, because I need their support, and I've done my best not to make any enemies with anyone. I have none, and that's important to me.
"My family is totally behind this decision. They left it up to me and said they would be completely OK if I chose any of these three great schools. Oklahoma is a great place and maybe my favorite visit. I wish them luck. Washington, what else can I say, that's my hometown school, and I'll always root for them. Just for me and what I want to accomplish on and off the field, USC is where I had to go, and I'm very excited to be a Trojan."
Banner is the fourth offensive line commitment for the Trojans in this class, joining Chad Wheeler (Santa Monica, Calif./Santa Monica), Max Tuerk (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita) and Jordan Simmons (Encino, Calif./Crespi).