ESPN 300 wide receiver Josh Imatorbhebhe (Suwanee, Ga./North Gwinnett) has been one of the sturdiest commits in USC’s recruiting class from the time he gave his verbal pledge to the Trojans last May, and a nine-day trip out West two weeks ago only further solidified his standing – so much so that he signed financial-aid paperwork with the school while there, paving the way for his early enrollment this January.
This wasn’t Imatorbhebhe’s first time on campus, but it was certainly the most extensive visit that he’s taken. An unofficial visitor through the first seven days of the trip, he stayed with his brother, Daniel - a freshman tight end for the Trojans - mimicking the routine of a typical student-athlete at USC.
“I spent time with my brother in his dorm, and just kind of experienced what SC life was like,” Imatorbhebhe said. “I went to the practices, watched some of their workouts, met a lot of the players and just chilled, so it was a really fun time. It allowed me to take in a lot of things that I probably wouldn’t have taken in had I not been there those extra seven days.”
The practice sessions, in particular, were a highlight for Imatorbhebhe, who was spotted on the sideline wearing his cleats as he tried to soak up everything he could, and he even got to take in some words of advice from USC star wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster.
“I had my cleats on,” Imatorbhebhe said. “I was just getting myself mentally in it. And watching JuJu, watching Darreus [Rogers] and watching Steven [Mitchell Jr.), it was really just off of impulse. I just felt so motivated to compete with those guys because I saw them making plays. That was just the reaction I had.”
Then, with his brother and others such as Deontay Burnett, John Houston Jr. and Caleb Wilson serving as co-hosts, Imatorbhebhe took his official visit over the weekend, and he and his family were blown away by the entire experience, including USC’s 40-21 victory over UCLA.
“I only took two officials, but I’m pretty sure if I took an official somewhere else, USC would still be the best official that I’ve taken,” said Imatorbhebhe, who previously visited Auburn in September. “It was just so great, so well thought out and so well planned. They did such a great job of hosting me and my family, and it made me more and more proud to be headed there.”
And all of this was before Clay Helton was named permanent head coach at USC. A vocal supporter of Helton during his time as interim coach, Imatorbhebhe was thrilled when he found out that he would be kept on.
“I was extremely happy for him, for the university, for the players and for myself, because he’s one of the coaches that recruited me, and going in knowing that he’s going to be the head guy, that’s comforting,” Imatorbhebhe said. “Secondly he’s a great guy and a great coach. He’s a great leader, and he gets the best out of his players.”
News came out on Sunday that four assistant coaches at USC had been fired, but with Imatorbhebhe’s closest contact and future position coach, Tee Martin, being retained, he isn’t as affected by the shakeup as some others being recruited by the Trojans.
“Coach Tee is such a great coach,” Imatorbhebhe said. “He’s the reason why you have three All-Americans in a row, and then a fourth on his way in JuJu. That doesn’t happen by accident. He’s proven that he’s not just a good recruiter, but he’s also a great receivers coach.”
With his mind completely at ease with his decision, Imatorbhebhe is now gearing up for his move to Los Angeles. Set to begin classes in just over a month, he’s excited about the recruiting class that is being put together at USC, and he isn’t going to hesitate to get in the ear of some of the top prospects that make their way on campus for official visits – although, as he explained, he doesn’t expect to have to do much of a sales job.
“If you’re recruiting for SC, especially if you’re a player, it’s not even that hard to sell at all,” Imatorbhebhe said. “What do you want to do? We have it here. What do you want to be? You can be it here. At USC the sky is literally the limit.”