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February 5, 2014

Little drama for Mama

Bellflower (Calif.) four-star offensive guard Damien Mama did manage to squeeze some drama out of the final days out his recruitment.

Just last week, Mama reportedly scheduled a last minute, surprise official to UCLA. That trip never happened, and UCLA, was subsequently dropped from his final list of college choices.

After that, Mama sat in the St. John Bosco gymnasium with the hats on the table. USC, Alabama and BYU represented his final choices.

"I've decided to continue my education at the University of Southern California," Mama said.

The 6-foot-5, 375-pound Army All-American is rated as the No. 1 guard in the nation by Rivals.com. He becomes the second commitment for the Trojans on signing day, inching USC closer to their limit of 19 scholarships for 2014.

Mama is the fifth offensive lineman for USC in the 2014 class, and according to legendary NFL offensive coach, and USC alum, Hudson Houck, maybe the best in the country.

At the Rivals Five Star Challenge in Chicago (Ill.), Mama took line MVP.

He might be the best offensive lineman here," said camp offensive line coach, Hudson Houck. "I hate to flat out rate him, but I love the guy. He's got great feet, great balance and extremely good strength.

"He's like a big dancing bear. This guy is a very impressive football player. He locks his arms out and he's a very good athlete for such a big man."

When USC's recruitment of Mama was overheard, Houck's immediate response was classic.

"They better stop looking because he's the real deal," said Houck. "I like him at guard because you're not going to get any push up the center with him in there.

"He needs to continue to get better at recognizing defenses and he has to use his hands better. At the next level, the defenders are awfully good with their hands."

Mama's decision Wednesday wasn't a total surprise. Growing up a USC fan in a family of USC fans, Mama was one of three players who posed for a photo with a USC jersey on during an in-home visit with Trojans coaches.

"It was Tee Martin, Clay Helton, Johnny Nansen and Marques Tuiasosopo," Mama said. "We had a little group thing, with me, Viane (Talamaivao) and Juju (John Smith)."

It was a primer to his official visit Jan. 24, which was helped solidify his feelings for USC.

"I took my visits looking for a place that felt like home," Mama said. "I wanted to feel comfortable, and when I went to USC, it was like I was already around my family.

Soma Vainuku, JR Tavai, Toa Lobendahn… I already knew all those guys. I've always held USC close to my heart. I've always had that school near the top of my list and had high interest in them."


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