Steele to USC ..his reason

By: Old Hickory Trojan

in case anyone missed this had nothing to do with Clay Heltons recruiting prowess..

"The Athletic reached out to Steele on Wednesday to talk about the past month. He agreed to a phone interview, saying, “People don’t always know the circumstances. There’s always a reason for everything. I think it would be good for them to know.”

So what’s happened over the past month since you left Florida?

Just because the NCAA works in a funny way, I don’t really want to talk about Florida. I have my statement written up to the NCAA. I left Florida because I was in a bad situation and I didn’t want to be in that type of environment. That’s the easiest way to sum up for me. I came back home. I had it in my mind that Coach (Mario) Cristobal and (cornerbacks) Coach Donte (Williams) were going to be the best coaches to support me and what I’m trying to do. But, unfortunately, just because I’m one of the top recruits in the country doesn’t always mean that life is going to work in my favor.

What do you mean?

My mom ended up getting laid off. It was going to be a financial hardship for her to be able to come watch me play. My mom has never missed one of my games before. Going to Oregon seemed like a really good idea. I still think that if I were to go there, I would do very well. During my visit (last week), Oregon paid for both my parents to go. But I usually take my little sister on my visits, and when we looked at plane tickets, they were like $450 for her. With my mom being laid off, it was financially going to be nearly impossible for them to be able to come support me and give me the support I need.

Steele says he left Florida because ‘I didn’t want to be in that type of environment,’ and he never enrolled at Oregon before moving on to USC. (Courtesy of Florida Athletics)
When was she laid off?

They started talking about two weeks ago, right around the time I committed. She went to work on Monday and got her official notice. On June 16, she won’t have a job anymore with the school district. I don’t come from the wealthiest family, so financially it was going to be very hard. And then on top of that, my grandma is on dialysis. So with my mom losing her job, she’s going to be a provider for my grandma just to get a few dollars flowing in. And then, you know, I think it’ll just be a lot easier if I stayed home. I came to the decision that I’ll be able to support my mom financially. It doesn’t happen every day that an 18-year-old has to try and help support his family. It’s tough. But I mean, you have to make it work. That’s the reason why I’m not going to Oregon anymore. It was going to be too much for my parents. I know a lot of people don’t understand it, but recruits, players, we’re all human like everybody else. We deal with real-life situations. It was something that was important to me, my faith, family and football, and my education.

Emotionally, what has the past month been like for you?

The hardest thing for me was telling Coach Donte and Coach Cristobal. Me and Coach Donte, me and him, we have a completely different relationship than people understand. That dude is a real mentor, and I know whenever I get done playing football, I could GA for him. I know that he has my back in so many ways. It was so hard for me to tell him that I wasn’t coming just because I knew they were going to be upset about the situation. It’s very hard dealing with those things. The fan base just knows that Chris Steele was at Florida, transferred back out west and committed to Oregon and now he’s going to USC. It sounds like a lot, but if people really understood what went on — I definitely never expected any of this to happen. It is hard. I’m still an 18-year-old kid, and when I log on to social media and see people bashing me and talking about me being a clown, it kind of hurts. But at the end of the day, life goes on. You just have to prove everybody wrong.

Why didn’t you go to USC in the first place after leaving Florida?

They didn’t have a spot for me and I was completely fine with that. I was planning on going to Oregon anyway. That was really — for one, they didn’t have a spot and then the second thing is that my relationship with Coach Donte is better than any relationship I have with any other coach. I just felt like he’s the best person for my development and stuff.

What is it about him that made that relationship so strong?

Donte isn’t a recruiter. He never recruited with me. It was always just, “Chris, I care for you. I love you. I look at you as a little brother, so I’m going to tell you the facts and then you can run with it.” A lot of coaches don’t do that. They’re going to sell you on, “Oh, we have the best facility, we have the best stadium, we had 90,000 fans at a game.” But they don’t tell you about what’s really important and what really matters in life. I’ve known him since I was in eighth grade. He offered me when he was (an assistant) at Arizona, Nebraska and Oregon. I was always his guy. That’s what separated him from everyone else. When I told him that I wasn’t coming, he called me and let me know how he felt about the situation. But at the end of the day, he knows that people deal with real-life situations as well. That’s why I’ll always respect him as a coach and mentor in general.

When did you let them know?

I told them (Tuesday). I just want to thank Coach Cristobal and Coach Donte and the Oregon fan base for welcoming me with open arms. I know that even though people aren’t going to know the circumstances, or they might be upset, I just want them to know that I have a genuine love for the program.

Do you expect to be eligible to play this fall?


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