Calvin grew up a huge USC fan, but when the Trojans didn't recruit him, he started to dislike them. Now, he can make them pay when WSU plays the Trojans on Friday night.
Washington State sophomore receiver Jamire Calvin has had a love/hate relationship with USC, where the Cougars are playing Friday night in their Pac-12 opener in front of a national audience on ESPN.
Calvin, who grew up in the Los Angeles area and went to Cathedral High School in the city, was a huge USC fan in his younger days.
“I grew up a really, really big USC fan,” said Calvin, who has 15 catches for 180 yards this season. “Reggie Bush was always my favorite player.”
When USC lost to Texas for the national championship in 2006, Calvin said he cried.
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“I was young, and that kind of hurt,” he said.
But a receiver scorned?
“In high school, they were one of the only schools that didn’t offer me (a scholarship), so I kind of built a little hatred for them,” he said.
Now he has a chance to beat them in front of family and friends.
“The first time in college being able to play at home is going to be really fun,” he said. “I wouldn’t say more so than the Apple Cup, but there is a rival-type feeling.”
But then, speaking almost like a coach, Calvin said: “But I don’t feel like the game is any more important than any other game. Eastern Washington and San Jose State, those games are just as important as USC.”
Try telling that to a Cougar fan. Last year, WSU beat No. 5 USC 30-27 on a Friday night in Pullman, probably the biggest win for coach Mike Leach at WSU. While the Cougars are off to a solid 3-0 start, these are not happy times at USC, which is coming off two straight losses.
Stanford beat the Trojans 17-3 in the Pac-12 opener for both teams, then last week USC was routed by Texas 37-14.
But still, this is USC, which is always a big game on the schedule, and particularly for the 33 Cougars from Southern California.
The demand for tickets from friends and family has gone well beyond the four each player is allotted.
Months ago, players from Southern California began bartering with teammates to acquire more tickets. But senior defensive tackle Nick Begg said there just weren’t that many available.
“It’s tough, because you come to find out that this guy committed tickets to another guy on the team in August,” he said. “But this is a weekend where just about everyone on the team, their parents want an excuse to come to Southern California for a little vacation.”
This has been a game Calvin has been waiting for as playing in the L.A. Coliseum was one of his dreams, and now he will realize it. The only issue is that, like Begg, he doesn’t have nearly enough tickets for those who want to see him.
“That was the hard part (deciding who got tickets).” he said. “I make sure my mom and dad have one, and figure it out from there. Some are going to have to buy a ticket or watch it on TV like everybody else.”
In just three games, Calvin is nearly halfway to the 33 receptions he had last season. He had a career-high six catches last week, and he said a year of experience has been very beneficial.
“Just my maturity level,” he said of the difference. “As a freshman, you expect more than what is going to happen. You have to be patient and take advantage of every opportunity, and I feel like my freshman year there were opportunities I didn’t take advantage of because I wasn’t ready for the moment.”
There will certainly be some big moments Friday night. And Calvin is ready to take advantage of them, with family and friends cheering him on.