Gardena Serra’s Dakoda Fields flips commitment from USC to Oregon

Just three days after Oregon’s bombshell announcement that it would be leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten, a major recruiting domino has already fallen against the USC football program.

Reports broke on Monday night that Gardena Serra High cornerback Dakoda Fields, a prized local recruit who had given a non-binding verbal commitment to USC and defensive backs coach Donte Williams in June, had flipped his commitment to Oregon. It’s a loss for the future of the Trojans’ secondary, as Fields was a highly-ranked in-state prospect whose USC decision was a major program win, considering the perception that he was always leaning toward Oregon.

“I was actually a little bit surprised when he committed to USC,” Serra coach Scott Altenberg told the Southern California News Group.

Fields’ decision marks two straight Serra cornerback prospects picking Oregon over USC, as lightning-quick 2023 recruit Rodrick Pleasant committed to the Ducks in February in a decision Altenberg called “51-49” over the Trojans.

Despite the timing, Altenberg said Oregon’s Big Ten move likely didn’t factor into Fields’ decision, as the Serra DB had visited Oregon in late July and had always expressed strong interest in the program.

“I think maybe the Big Ten thing in the end … will probably be beneficial for Oregon,” Altenberg said, “but I don’t know how much Dakoda was thinking, ‘Oh, now they’re in the Big Ten.’”

Local coaches have expressed some belief that Oregon and Washington also moving to the Big Ten would level the playing field in local recruiting against USC, now being able to promise national exposure to potential recruits and escape the Pac-12 similar to the Trojans. USC coach Lincoln Riley, however, shot down the idea that the move would affect the Trojans’ local recruiting plans on Friday.

“Win national championships, you’re competing against everybody, in my mind,” Riley said. “I mean, nothing’s changed. Doesn’t matter what conference you’re in; most schools in the country are going to come recruit in Southern California.”

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