LOS ANGELES — Michael Hutchings landed at USC after coming from from one of the country’s most recognizable high school programs, Concord De La Salle.
Since stepping on campus he’s received nothing but high marks.
He drew laughs from his teammates during the rookie talent show earlier in fall camp for a skit he did with fellow linebacker Hayes Pullard.
“It’s just a thumbs up or a thumbs down,” Hutchings said of the talent show voting. “I got a thumbs up.”
The freshman linebacker is getting plenty of thumbs up for his performance on the field as well.
At 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, he looks the part and his play has backed up that notion.
Hutchings credits the team’s veterans for helping him adjust. He says he texts Pullard constantly for advice.
“Hayes is kind of like my big brother,” Hutchings said. “I text him. I ask him for tips. I ask him how he made that play (or) how he may see a play. It’s something that’s much needed.”
In fact, during the Trojans first scrimmage of this camp inside the Coliseum those tips came in handy. Hutchings had to use the lessons learned to replace the Butkus Watch List linebacker.
Pullard had to leave after the first possession to attend class and it was Hutchings who was thrown into the contest with the first team defense.
He wasn’t just a participant, he was leading the huddle and making calls, impressing his head coach.
“If you’re a true freshman and you’re functioning, you’re probably going to be a really good player someday,” said USC head coach Lane Kiffin. “Most true freshman come in and they can barely function in their first, second week of training camp — and not just function but (he’s doing) it at MIKE linebacker.
“He’s really prepared extremely well.”
Hutchings attributes his success on the field to his study habits, which is something else he learned from the veterans. He studies and studies and studies some more. The freshman doesn’t keep track of the hours he spends studying but knows he has to feel a certain way before he allows himself to close the books.
“(I study) until I feel comfortable with the playbook and know what I’m doing the next day,” Hutchings said. “You have to be thinking about football 24-7 during camp.
“You have to be in it every night just to keep up.”
Hutchings has done more than keep up and thanks to his impressive study habits could end up being a huge contributor to the Trojans defense this fall.