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April 15, 2013
Three day trip
Damascus (Md.) 2015 athlete Jalen Christian is one of the top sophomore prospects in the Mid-Atlantic region, having already drawn numerous verbal scholarship offers before his junior season.
Over the weekend, the 5-foot-10, 160-pounder made a three-day trip to Columbia to check out what one of those programs, South Carolina, had to offer.
"On Friday, we got to view the campus, go to the spring practice, and then go eat," Christian told GamecockCentral.com. "It was the day before the spring game, so it was a more relaxed type of practice. The players joked around a little bit but that's OK if you're handling your business."
On day two of the visit Christian, accompanied by his mother, was able to get a more in-depth look at USC.
"We viewed a lot of the campus, some of the academic facilities," he said. "We didn't get to see all of the athletic facilities until Saturday. You could tell they put a lot of money into it, they were very nice. I learned if you major in international business, it's number one in the country. It's a great academic school and that's what people go there for. Of course you're a student athlete first."
Saturday was also the day in which USC held the annual Garnet and Black Game to close out the spring. The first thing that jumped out at Christian was the atmosphere.
"It's crazy how they have their own tailgate area,"he said. "The fans get into the program a lot, and that's what makes South Carolina a very loud place and one of the toughest to play at."
The ball was thrown around a good bit during the final spring scrimmage, and Christian took notice of that offensive style.
"Since I'm a receiver, I focus on offense a lot," he explained. "That's what they're recruiting me for. They like to throw the ball a lot and that was very good. That's what I like about their offense; it's a gun type of offense. They like to take opportunities and chances when they can. They let the younger guys show off what they have and their ability. There are a lot of talented guys out there. They all stand out."
For USC, quarterbacks coach G.A. Mangus is handling Christian's recruitment. What did the two talk about over the course of the weekend?
"Pretty much talking about how I can fit into the program. If you look at the roster, their receivers they have a lot of shorter guys and that shows that height doesn't matter. If you can play, you can play. That's what he pretty much preached to me. He told me he's going to keep recruiting me hard."
Christian also had an opportunity to meet the head ball coach and his son.
"It was an honor to meet him," Christian said of Steve Spurrier. "He's a legend and it was my pleasure. Steve Spurrier Jr., his coaching style is pretty much, just get your business done. He works his receivers a lot and I saw at practice how he was coaching them. They ran plays over and over until they got the play right."
The Maryland product, who also pointed out that he spoke with Damiere Byrd and Bruce Ellington while on campus, said his mother enjoyed the trip as well.
"Oh yeah, of course. She just wanted to find out about the academics and she found out about them. We all learned they're a great academic school."
No other trips are planned at this time for Christian, and he does not have any programs atop his leader board. A high comfort level will play a large role in helping him to choose which program he will play for one day.
"I'm still just enjoying the process. That's it," he said. "If you think about it, that's your home for the next few years and you don't want to go there feeling uncomfortable."