Did you know where you were going to college before you even hit high school? Eighth-grade wide receiver Nathan Tilford does, after verbally accepting a scholarship offer to play football for the USC Trojans in 2017.
Tilford will be a freshman at Upland High School in Upland, Ca., about forty-five minutes east of USC’s Los Angeles campus, this fall, and he’ll undoubtedly face high expectations on the football field after receiving an offer from the Trojans — something many of his older teammates might still be hoping to do.
The university reportedly extended an offer to Tilford at the USC Skill Positions Camp on June 9, and the youngster, rated one of the top incoming high school players in the state, told NBCLosAngeles.com he accepted on the spot.
His future coach at Upland, Tim Salter, seems less excited about it, telling the Los Angeles Times: “I would like for the young man to enjoy his high school experience before he has to worry about what college to go to.”
Ideally, the early offer and verbal commitment will ensure Tilford won’t have to worry about the stressful recruiting process in a few years — the Trojans will have a top wide receiver already locked up, and Tilford will already have an offer from his dream school — but a lot can happen between now and 2017, when he can sign his official Letter of Intent.
By verbally committing to USC this early, Tilford may have deterred other schools from pursuing him. He says he’s always wanted to go to USC, but what if the Trojans continue to struggle? If he loses interest in USC, or if he doesn’t develop as expected and USC loses interest in him, Tilford’s other options might be more limited than if he’d let the recruiting process play out.
It may seem crazy that eighth-graders — Tilford is the second from the Class of 2017; linebacker Dylan Moses already has several offers— are already being targeted by college coaches, but it’s just another sign of how competitive college football recruiting has become. If the early offers to these young prospects pay off, get ready for even more programs to jump on the early offer bandwagon.