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BELLFLOWER, Calif. -- When Malik Dorton arrived at St. John Bosco, he wanted to play receiver.
He was athletic. He was skilled. He could have played there. But Bosco needed defensive linemen, so two assistant coaches came to coach Jason Negro with the idea of moving Dorton, then a sophomore, to defensive end and letting him loose.
Dorton, who committed to USC during a ceremony at his school Friday, thrived at the position. Bosco has not looked back as the 6-foot-3, 227-pound four-star prospect has developed into one of the best weakside defensive ends in the 2014 class.
"Malik was a wide receiver, and we got ready to play our fourth game of the year against La Habra," Negro said. "Coach (Paul) Diaz and coach (Chris) King, our defensive coordinator and D-line coach, said let's put Malik's hand in the dirt and see what he can do. He just went nutty that night at La Habra, and (USC assistant) coach (Ed) Orgeron was there, I believe, that night.
"From that day forward, they really started coming forward and saying this guy can really do some special things. From that day forward, Malik really bought into the position change, wasn't worried about being a skill-position guy anymore and really crafted his skill set to do what he's able to do.
"I don't think if he stayed at the receiver position he would have these opportunities. That's a testament to him to be willing to change."
The position switch was for the best for Dorton, rated as the No. 10 weakside defensive end and the No. 199 recruit in the 2014 class by Rivals.com. USC offered this spring, and the four-star prospect said the Trojans immediately became the favorite.
That was not the case much earlier in his recruitment. After receiving an offer UCLA, Dorton said, he considered a commitment to the Bruins but decided to hold off to see what else might happen. Months later, the St. John Bosco standout said he's happy he was patient because he feels the USC defense fits his style much better.
"I kind of looked at it from an academic standpoint," Dorton said. "You can't go wrong with a USC degree. You'll be set for life, and then I kind of looked at it from a scheme standpoint. I fit in better at USC than I would at UCLA."
Dorton said his relationship with new USC defensive coordinator, Clancy Pendergast, is one in the making. He has stronger bonds at this point with Orgeron, head coach Lane Kiffin and assistant Tee Martin.
Getting his commitment out of the way right before the start of his senior season will relieve pressure from reporters, teammates and others who consistently asked where he will play college football.
That issue might not be totally settled, though.
Dorton said he plans to take official visits to Arizona State and Washington and, even though his commitment to USC is fresh and strong, he's not going to eliminate all other programs.
"It's not over," Dorton said. "I'll still take a few visits to the schools that I have high interest in other than USC. The process isn't completely over."
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