The fireworks came a few days early for USC fans, as Concord (Calif.) De La Salle outside linebacker Michael Hutchings, the nation's No. 59 player, committed to the Trojans on Sunday morning.
"Next year I'll be going to USC," Hutchings said.
Though the news doesn't come as a much of a surprise -- Hutchings had the Trojans out front for much of his recruitment -- a recent trip to Washington put the Huskies squarely in the mix and the local pull from California kept the Golden Bears in his final three.
"It was my dream school, but the other schools were up there," Hutchings said. "I couldn't be biased towards [USC]. But it feels good to have a decision done."
His relationship with his future position coach was an important part of the process for Hutchings. When former USC linebackers coach Joe Barry left for the San Diego Chargers earlier this year, it caused a slight pause in what seemed to be a slam-dunk recruitment for USC. But two trips to USC to spend time with linebackers coach Scottie Hazelton kept the Trojans in the driver's seat.
"That just confirmed everything," Hutchings said. "Coach Haze [Hazelton] is a good coach and just like Coach Barry. They're like twins almost. They're teachers and communicators, not screamers and yellers."
On Wednesday, after the Trojans Rising Stars Camp, Hutchings had an opportunity to speak with the USC coaches as well as athletic director Pat Haden. During some time with Kiffin, Hutchings pulled the trigger.
"Coach Kiff said it was about time," Hutchings said. "He was happy I finally did it."
Four criteria helped form Hutchings' decision and he said after his visit to Washington, he sat down with his parents and came to a conclusion.
"Education, the coaching staff, what the school offered outside of football and the tradition," Hutchings said of what helped him through the process. "[USC] offered me every tool and everything that I wanted."
The 6-foot-1, 213-pound athlete will begin his career as a business major and strongside linebacker for the Trojans, sliding in behind Dion Bailey, a player Hutchings has come to admire. He said the position had plenty to do with his decision and it's a spot that will suit him well given his versatility.
The Trojans continue to rack up ESPN 300 and ESPN 150 talent. Hutchings is commitment No. 11 for USC and all 11 are ESPN 300 members, with nine in the top 150.
Hutchings had long been one of USC's strongest recruiters in the 2013 class, which means now that he has publicly committed, assistant coach Ed Orgeron might have some competition for the recruiting coordinator title.
"I'm going to continue to recruit," Hutchings said. "Max [Browne] and I have pretty much been on it for a while now. This class is really starting to come together and I think we could challenge for the top spot in the nation."