Micah Banuelos kept it close to the vest, mulling over his college commitment decision until the 11th hour. The Kennedy Catholic High School (Burien, Wash.) offensive lineman was at USC and Oregon.
Flanked by his parents, Oriana and Rodrigo, Banuelos reached for the USC jersey to cheers from friends and family at the Samoan Christian Fellowship Church in Des Moines on a sunny Monday afternoon. His commitment to the Trojans was a tough decision, he said, but ultimately playing in Southern California was too enticing an opportunity to turn down.
“It was tough because Oregon brought the same kind of energy,” Banuelos said. “USC, the (upcoming move to the) Big Ten was just icing on the cake to seal it. You have Lincoln Riley and many different coaches who are going to continue to push me to be the best player I am.
The decision was made even more difficult by the fact that Banuelos grew up as an Oregon Ducks fan as a child.
“I was actually leaning towards Oregon, but I just started breaking things down with my mom and dad and we just tried to play the little things,” Banuelos said. “USC came out with this product and the Big Ten was just icing on the cake.”
Banuelos, a 6-foot-2.5 lineman, is considered a four-star prospect by 247sports.com and a three-star rookie in the site’s composite rating. Most scouting analysts expect him to slip into the guard position in college, but Banuelos has positional versatility.
Known for his meanness on the pitch, Banuelos was in his element at his longtime church on Monday, smiling and snapping photos with friends and family.
“I have a lot of coaches who tell me that I have a little switch that I can turn on and off. I could just control it. When I’m on the pitch, I release all my energy and the love for the sport is just different. So when I leave, I’m a loving person. I love all my boys.
Family members handed out bags of food to those who came to celebrate her engagement. Banuelos said his faith was important to him.
“I didn’t do it alone,” he said. “Without God, I am nothing. My church family played a big part in that. I just want to thank them too. They pushed me, they prayed. Look where we are now. All these offers, all these bowling parties that I’ve been invited to – I just thank God. …I had an idea maybe a month or two ago. I just had to think of a place where I started as a kid. I love this church and my church family.
Banuelos is the No. 4 ranked player overall at Washington in the Class of 2023, according to ratings of 247. He is the 37th ranked inside lineman nationally. Nine of Washington’s 10 highest-rated players in the Class of 2023 have verbally committed to college programs.