Talanoa Hufanga is sticking with maroon and gold.
The Crescent Valley High five-star athlete revealed that he signed with USC last week during a Thursday evening ceremony at Southpaw’s Perfect Pizza and Sports Pub in North Albany. The announcement came near the end of a two-plus-minute video produced by Chris Graham.
Hufanga plans to graduate early and enroll at USC in February.
“It was a long journey. It went by fast, but it was a long journey,” said Hufanga, the top-rated football prospect in Oregon. “To be able to go all the way across the nation from Alabama to Michigan to Nebraska and coming all the way back to Oregon, I felt it was right for my home to be (Los Angeles). Southern California was the right fit, and I would really like to experience it.”
Hufanga will play safety for the Trojans, who won the 2017 Pac-12 title and are set to face Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl at 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Rated the nation’s No. 1 athlete by nearly every major recruiting service, Hufanga listed a top 10 of Alabama, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, Oregon State, UCLA, USC, Utah and Washington in June. He eliminated the Crimson Tide, Fighting Irish, Huskies and Beavers in September and whittled his list to just UCLA and USC earlier this month.
A tight relationship with several current players, including cousin and former Central High defensive lineman Marlon Tuipulotu, led Hufanga to sign with the Trojans.
“I didn’t pick a school based on the coaches; I picked a school based on the players and what was the right fit,” Hufanga said. “(Tuipulotu) told me it was the place to be, and I trusted his word.”
After the video, Hufanga thanked his friends, family, trainer Ryan Hanson and CV head coach Scott Sanders.
“He gave me the opportunity freshman year to make a name for myself,” Hufanga said of Sanders.
Hufanga was voted 5A’s defensive player of the year after helping lead the Raiders to a share of the Mid-Willamette Conference title and a state quarterfinals appearance. On offense, Hufanga was a first-team all-state wide receiver.