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Rancho Cucamonga High School (California) three-star safety Christian Pierce recently visited several college football programs.

This week, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound defensive back trimmed his list of 18 scholarship offers to a final three - Washington, UCLA and USC:

Pierce has visited all three of his finalists in recent weeks and each had an aspect that stood out.

He took a trip to Washington earlier this month and came away impressed.

"I loved it. It was great - the campus, the vibe, everything was great" Pierce said. "You'd expect it to be pouring down every second of the day, but there was actually some pretty good weather when I went out there. I love the coaches, love coach (Chuck) Morrell - a lot of great coaches, very genuine." 

The California defensive back was on hand for a practice, which was scenic, but also a little cold. 

"That lake... that lake right behind it, it got really chilly, really chilly," he said. "But it wasn't too bad. Practice was good."

With both former Huskies Trent McDuffie and Kyler Gordon expected to be taken early in the NFL draft, a factor in Washington's favor is its tradition churning out pros. 

"Washington puts out (defensive backs) every single year, so their development is great," Pierce said. "There's a lot of good things about Washington." 

Last week, Pierce took a trip to UCLA, which checked a lot of boxes for him. 

"I've actually been there once - last weekend," he said. "I liked it. I'll be back this weekend for a spring practice. It's a beautiful campus. Of course, they have academics. They have great coaches, very genuine coaches. Coach (Chip) Kelly is a very good guy, coach (Brian) Norwood is a very good guy. I love the culture. There's a lot of things I could say about it. It's a very good program."

Pierce hasn't yet made a decision, but clearly the Bruins have made a significant impression on him in recent weeks. 

"I could see myself playing for them in the future," he said.

Pierce will also visit USC on Saturday for its spring game, taking trips to both Pac-12 campuses on the same day.

Having already been to USC a couple of times, the Rancho Cucamonga product knows what to expect, but is hoping to add to his connection with the program and coaching staff.

"I'll be there for the spring game," he said. "I'll be able to see them again and keep building a relationship with them." 

From what he's seen so far, the Trojans are delivering on the hype.

"I love the culture," Pierce said. "I just love the tradition. I love that they stick to that - the jersey, no last name. It means something. The new coaches have come in and haven't changed (the traditions). They let USC speak for itself. Man, coach (Alex) Grinch has told me how I fit in and how my strengths are flexible. I can play anywhere on the field, and that kind of helps, but I love the academics and it's beautiful out there."

Growing up in California, Pierce had expectations of what UCLA and USC would be.

In both cases, it has been different than he imagined.

"You could say they've exceeded my expectations," he said. "I never really thought, 'Man, I could play for UCLA or USC.' I've always just loved the teams, loved going to the games and loved football. Once you get to the facilities and see what they have to offer, you're in awe."

"And that's the same with Washington."

Pierce hasn't yet set a date for his decision, but feels one is near.

"I feel like I will be, for sure, committing before my senior season and will be making a decision in the next month or two," he explained.

Part of that uncertainty comes from a discussion within his family about whether or not they will take another round of visits to each school before announcing a commitment.

But it's clear Pierce is getting close - and that one Pac-12 program is about to add a talented safety into their 2023 recruiting class.