Academics were indeed the Claremont High School offensive tackle’s deciding factor in committing to USC June 26. His 4.4 GPA and ambitious plans for higher education, not to mention the scholarship offer he received from Harvard, certainly speak to his priorities.
“I want to get a Masters degree and when you get one of those from USC, NFL or no NFL, you’re set for life,” Austin said. “But if you’re a starting offensive lineman at USC, you’re practically guaranteed a shot at the NFL.”
Austin’s reasoning is augmented by the fact that he has lived an hour away from the school, but didn’t grow up a USC fan. Austin and his family didn’t even closely follow college football until his recruitment began. Austin is a Steelers fan first, thanks to his father and grandfather’s Pennsylvania roots.
USC was the last of nine scholarship offers extended to the 6-foot-6, 285-pound rising senior.
He was closing in on a commitment to either Arizona State or Washington when the Trojans came calling June 26. He received the offer when Lane Kiffin and several of his staff members pulled Austin aside during an unofficial visit to campus June 26 during a Rising Stars camp. Austin committed later that day.
“It felt like something out of a movie when I was standing there with all those coaches and they offered me,” Austin said. “I mean, it’s an hour away from where I live. It’s got the academics. My family can watch me play. And I want the whole bowl game, big time college football experience.”
Besides USC, Arizona State, Washington and Harvard, Austin’s offers included Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, San Diego State and Fresno State.
“It’s a great fit for him and his family and I knew he felt sure about it when he committed before taking his trips,” Claremont coach Mike Collins said. “He took some unofficial visits, so I know he is confident in this decision.”