The marriage between USC and four-star offensive guard Cyrus Hobbi is a perfect study in second chances.
The Trojans were all but eliminated from Hobbi's list after the Scottsdale (Ariz.) Saguaro standout visited this past off-season - the trip came on or around the same day that USC was hit with NCAA sanctions - but the Trojans' coaching staff was relentless in pursuing the four-star recruit and they landed his commitment Friday afternoon.
Arizona State and UCLA were also finalists but USC won out for his services. Months ago, no one around Hobbi thought it was even possible the Trojans would get his pledge but after recruiting him hard and getting him on campus again, the Pac-12 powerhouse won out for one of the West's best players.
"We went out there and we caught them at a bad time," Hobbi said. "They were starting to get their sanctions at that time. I think it was that day when we went out there. … They apologized for that later and said they kind of messed up. Me and my family didn't really like it that much either, we were like 'Those guys are jerks.' We thought we'd give them another shot.
"I started with phone calls and started getting closer with these guys. I went out there and I got real close with my recruiting guy, Joe Barry and coach (James) Cregg, the offensive line coach and coach (Lane) Kiffin, and they definitely made up for what happened earlier in the season."
Rivals.com rates Hobbi, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound prospect, fourth at offensive guard, No. 110 nationally and third in the Arizona state rankings. The only guards rated higher are Aundrey Walker, who is also strongly considering USC, Auburn commit Greg Robinson and North Carolina pledge Landon Turner.
Hobbi's commitment to USC also marks a concerning trend this recruiting cycle for both Arizona and Arizona State since only three of the top 15 players in the state by Rivals.com have decided to commit to either the Wildcats or Sun Devils.
The only uncommitted prospect in the top 15 left in the state is defensive tackle Todd Peat Jr., who has Arizona State, Oregon State and Nebraska as favorites. He's supposed to announce his decision on National Signing Day.
For a long time, though, many people expected Hobbi would end up at Arizona State but USC's relentless recruiting effort paid off. Goes to show that first impressions are important but they can be changed along the way. Hobbi's recruitment by the Trojans is a perfect example.
"It's been very, very stressful," Hobbi said. "It's been a long but fun process. It's been very difficult getting through all this stuff and meeting all these people. Just trying to decide, every night I was having anxiety attacks. I woke up in the morning and I just knew. I was confident I wanted to be a Trojan.
"I'm ready to be a Trojan. I'm comfortable there. All the great things about it, the school, the academics itself, the tradition of the program, it's in Southern California and it's not too far for my friends and family."
ASUDevils.com publisher Chris Karpman contributed to this report.