"I really want a total college atmosphere," he said. "I'll be checking out the sports atmosphere, the fans, their depth, the campus - it's all going to be important."
Gaffney, Scout.com's No. 3 fullback, grew up following the Trojans. "USC is a strong team," he said. "Except for the Oregon State game they really had been tearing it up this year. They killed Ohio State and that was supposed to be a top five team.
"I think USC may have underestimated Oregon State a little bit," he said.
He's being recruited by USC wide receiver coach John Morton. "He's said that I could be a huge third down guy for them," Gaffney said. "I like how competitive USC is at every position. You really have to work hard and prove you deserve to be out there."
The Trojans and Cardinal have been recruiting Gaffney the longest and the hardest. "They've both been after me since the beginning and haven't let up," he said.
The reason that the Irish are now in the mix is because they've stepped up their recruiting. "I talked with (special teams) coach Brian Polian and he said he thought I wasn't interested in them and that's why they kind of dropped off recruiting me. But now they are back," Gaffney said.
"I know that last year Notre Dame struggled, but I think coach Charlie Weis learned from that and they are doing better this season," he said. "They've got some better athletes this year and are improving."
In Gaffney's mind the thing that makes the Irish stand out is their tradition. "I love it," he said. "I love the whole Notre Dame atmosphere. It's just a great place to experience and they have great tradition and that's what college football is all about. They have the history and the great players and great coaches."
But as a USC fan growing up, Gaffney admits he always rooted against the Irish in their rivalry with the Trojans. "I rooted for USC all the way," he said. "But I think that was probably because I wanted to go against my dad. He's a big Notre Dame guy."
The third team in this race is Stanford and Gaffney hopes to schedule a trip to Palo Alto soon. "I really like how it's going for them this year," he said. "Last year they won some games nobody thought they would including beating USC which was huge. I think that definitely helped them and they are a much better team this year.
"Stanford has a lot of fight in them and they keep getting better," he said. "I think in the next year or two they'll be a great team."
Gaffney attributes the Cardinal's success to head coach Jim Harbaugh. "He just has a great attitude," he said. "He's always trying to get better and become a better team. He doesn't quit."
In two games (2-0) this year, Gaffney has already scored nine touchdowns on 300 yards rushing and 150 yards receiving.
Gaffney says he plans to major in communications and reports a 3.3 core GPA and a 1790 SAT.