I was a high school junior when I first met him. I got pulled out of class unexpectedly to see him waiting in the hallway—Pete Carroll, national championship-winning head coach. We stood and talked there by the lockers for a few minutes. I’ll never forget that—USC’s head coach coming to recruit me at Dominguez High School in Compton in 2004. At the time, it was one of the coolest experiences of my life.
He said, “you’ve got the perfect size to be a lock-up corner.” I’d never heard that before: “lock-up” corner. I made ‘lockup2006’ my email address and used it until I got to college. I didn’t end up going to USC, because my mind was already made up to go to Stanford, and there was no way I was passing up the opportunity to get a Stanford education, but I could tell then there was something that separated Carroll from others coaches who recruited me. You could feel the positive energy, how upbeat he was and how much he believed in what he was saying. He had a different aura to him.