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May 3, 2013

Former Oscar Smith DT lands at USC

Wyche In 2007, Michael Wyche was not playing organized football. Yesterday, he committed to playing his college football for the USC Trojans after he was offered a scholarship by Coach Lane Kiffin.

How did it happen? Simply put, Wyche believed in himself when no one else did and persevered when few others would.

"He had some Division 2 scholarship offers coming out of high school," said Oscar Smith head coach Rich Morgan, "but, he decided to go junior college because he felt that he could play Division I football. Everybody told him that he wasn't a DI player. We had a number of Division I players on the team the year that he came out and none of the colleges were interested in him."

A backup on the 2008 Oscar Smith state championship squad as a sophomore, Wyche moved into the starting lineup for the Tigers as a junior and earned second team all-district honors his senior campaign in 2010.

Heading out to the West coast to play at the College of the Canyons, Wyche made a pit stop at Mt. San Antonio College before finding a home at East Los Angeles Junior College where he got his grades and life in order.

"He is a lot more serious now because he's just grown up. He understands what he needs to get done on his own and he has learned how to function at the college level."

Learning how to function from day-to-day has been a much bigger struggle for Wyche than football has been.

He grew up with his father incarcerated and his mother was paralyzed from the neck down from a car accident when Wyche was a youngster leaving him to be raised primarily by his grandmother and various aunts. At one point, when staying with a sister, a makeshift bedroom consisted of a mattress lying on the floor of a closet.

"Neither his mom nor his dad have ever seen him play football," noted Morgan. "His mom literally had to be wheeled into the state championship banquet in her bed to see him get his ring. That was the first time that she saw one of his accomplishments because she was never really able to leave the house."

Just months ago, his mother passed away after suffering through a fight with cancer.

Yet, he persevered.

"He is a very personable and a very nice kid. To be quite honest with you, he has every reason to be mad at the world but, for whatever reason, football kind of saved him."

So, what did the offer and subsequent commitment mean to the big man?

"He's happy because he realizes that the decision to go out there has paid off. You could tell that he was smiling and laughing like a little kid filled with excitement. It's USC, that's a different level. That name carries weight from coast to coast."

Along with the offer from the Trojans, Wyche also held offers from Arkansas State, Troy and Washington State. "There are eight to ten college programs that when people here those names, they recognize them as the elite of college football and USC is one of those schools."

Can he play at that level? Morgan believes that he can.

"Every college coach in America is searching for that big defensive lineman. There is a need for d-lineman so Mike is coming up at the right time. He is every bit as big as Andrew Brown (Oscar Smith's nationally-ranked Class of 2014 prospect) but he's also a 21-year old man. Instead of playing against high school kids, he's been playing against other grown men already."

Football Editor Rod Johnson is now entering his tenth year with VirginiaPreps.com having first written for the site in 2003. To keep up with even more high school football news in Virginia, follow him on Twitter @vaprepsrod or find him on Facebook under "VirginiaPreps Rod Johnson". He can also be contacted via e-mail at vaprepsrod@cox.net.

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