Over the course of his recruitment, Ty Isaac accumulated offers from across the country and earned five-star status as the number one back in the 2013 class. After taking several visits, sometimes taking multiple trips to several schools, Isaac arrived at the one school that stood out from the pack.
"The University of Southern California," Isaac reported Tuesday morning. "Honestly, Saturday or Sunday, I kind of woke up and knew. I ran through every scenario in my head and thought about it all and I was just like, football is supposed to be what it's going to be. As long as I do what I know I need to do, that's going to take care of itself. When I laid down and thought about where I saw myself being in school outside of football, it was SC."
Isaac had Michigan and Notre Dame in his final group, both located much closer to home in Joliet than Los Angeles. He admits that was a tough thing to get over.
"Honestly, it was tough. I've got my family first off and then a few guys that I grew up with and some other people that mean a lot to me, but I know that at the end of the day, that these next four years are going to affect everything I do and you've got to put it in the back of your head that you're doing the right thing."
Isaac has felt a draw to USC throughout the process, one of those unexplainable gut feelings which often leads recruits to their choice.
"There was something about them that had always intrigued me," he said. "I couldn't tell you what, but towards the end of that little run when it felt like I was getting an offer every day, there was a little period nobody came in and (Joliet Catholic) Coach (Dan) Sharp said, 'Are there any other schools I need to talk to, or are you pretty set?' I said I wanted to wait and see if SC comes through and the next day, they called and offered, so from there, I kind of waited on that offer. It wasn't a dream school or anything, I just was interested in them. I couldn't tell you why. They offered and from there, the rest is history."
While what exactly intrigued him about the school is unclear, the reasons Isaac ultimately chose the Trojans were obvious to him on his two visits to the West Coast.
"They were just real genuine," he explained, "not to say that any other school wasn't. Any school that I dealt with that was in my top had great people, great everything. It's just, this one set itself apart. Watching their practice, I liked the way they went out and handled their business. You know what you're getting from an SC team for the most part. The coaches, they showed a lot of interest and they were straight up and you can't ask for much more than that."
On his first trip to Southern Cal, Isaac's father went with him. On the return trip, just over a week ago, both Mom and Dad accompanied him. Although both preferred the distance to be closer, they left the decision in his hands and also noticed his connection to the school.
"Obviously I wasn't going to go somewhere were they were like 'I don't think so,' but truthfully, they both liked it. They both said they wished it was closer, but that's what any parent is going to say for the most part. When I told them what I had to come to, they said that's where they saw me being, without even knowing. They were alright and it feels like the right decision. I know it is."
With his decision in, Isaac now only has his senior year between him and major college football. While there was temptation to enroll early and go through spring drills, several factors will likely keep that from happening.
"I thought about it, but my school, they don't do it. We talked to them a few times and they're very reluctant to even discuss it and so I don't think I'm going to do it. At the same time, if I'm going to be that far away, I might as well take in the whole senior year thing, be home for that last year and take it easy."
This week, another of the nation's top backs, Justin Davis, is slated to make a college choice and USC is the front runner. Isaac says that won't affect Davis and it won't affect him.
"We've spoken and it's all good. You've got one goal in mind. I'm coming to do my thing, he's coming to do his thing and we're going to push each other to be better. I think, you look everywhere and they're running two backs in every system. Obviously we both welcome the competition, and we're looking forward to doing some big things in the offense."
Isaac has played varsity since his freshman season, but last year was his best year, as he rushed for 2,114 yards and 45 touchdowns en route to being named Chicago Sun-Times Player of the Year. He amassed 515 yards and six touchdowns on 26 carries in the 2011 state title game, a loss to Lombard Montini.
Sam Webb also contributed to this report.
Core 6 Winter Showcase Highlights