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October 18, 2013

Olajuwon's dream comes true

GARDENA, CA -- Serra senior linebacker Olajuwon Tucker lasted a week, but his scholarship from USC was too much to pass up.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound three-star recruit called the Trojan coaching staff before his game Friday to tell Ed Orgeron he was going to be commitment No. 9.

"I called Coach Orgeron earlier today after they got off the plane," said Tucker. "They're out there getting ready for Notre Dame, but I still talked to a bunch of coaches.

"Coach O was really excited and jumping around on the phone. He was really fired up that I committed."

Tucker had originally said his parents wanted him to wait out the process.

"I felt like the timing was right," said Tucker. "My family just wanted me to make sure I was staying true to my heart.

"USC is where I want to be, but I will still take an official visit to Washington State Nov. 6. That's all I have planned right now."

Tucker becomes commitment No. 2 under USC interim head coach Ed Orgeron. It is also the second commitment in the last two weeks for assistant coach, Tee Martin, who recruits Greater Los Angeles for the Trojans.

An impressive feat for a coaching staff working under the most uncertain of circumstance, Tucker is a fan of Orgeron and his new approach at USC.

"He's a great guy and he has the team playing with a lot of energy," said Tucker.

While Orgeron has head coaching experience, this is Tucker's first year playing outside linebacker. Thus far, he has accumulated more than 60 tackles in seven games - averaging 11 tackles a game when he has only played a half of several games this season.

Tucker also has nine sacks this season - leading the team in both categories defensively.

"I love playing linebacker," said Tucker. "I'm still trying to improve each game, but it's been a good move for me.

"It definitely helped me in recruiting because I'm able to come of the edge as a pass rusher and then I can help stop the run as well."

Tucker comes to USC at a huge position on need. With the Trojans implementing a 5-2 defense this season, bigger more physical outside linebackers are crucial to the new scheme. Next year, USC will lose four linebackers to graduation alone, which makes Tucker's commitment more important than at fist glance.

"They lose four seniors this year," said Tucker. "If I keep working as hard as I have been there is a good chance I can play early. They want me at the outside predator position, which is cool."

The opportunity to see the field early is something that Tucker looks forward to at USC, but growing up and Trojans fan and dreaming of wearing cardinal and gold, his commitment comes at a time with very little certainty within the program.

"I've grown up watching USC, and I've always thought about what it would be like to play there," said Tucker. "It was a big moment for my family when I committed.

"My mom was especially involved in my decision. Academics are big for my family, and I want to major business and global logistics."

Tucker commits to USC over scholarship offers from Miami, Washington State, Utah, Colorado, San Jose State, San Diego, Boise State and Arizona State. He joins St. John Bosco defensive end Malik Dorton and Narbonne linebacker Uchenna Nwosu as potential outside linebackers for the Trojans.

Tucker and Nwosu are actually good friends, with Olajuwon being a transfer from Narbonne his freshman year.

Serra has several other targets with USC scholarship offers, and Tucker thinks the Trojans have a shot at his teammates, including Adoree' Jackson, Rasheem Green, Jordan Lasley and John Houston.

"USC is a wonderful place, and I definitely want to help them," said Tucker. "I think they have a high possibility of getting those guys."

USCFootball.com will have more from this breaking commitment, including video of Olajuwon Tucker from Serra's win over Chaminade, 36-0.



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