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Tight-lipped to the end, Rainier Beach blue-chip recruit Joshua Conerly Jr. gives Oregon the surprise final nod

Many knew that Conerly's final two schools were the Ducks and USC, but only his parents were informed of where he was going leading up to his announcement Friday

SEATTLE - Five-star Rainier Beach offensive tackle Joshua Conerly Jr. has big plans for a long career in the NFL protecting quarterbacks.

If somehow that didn't work out, it was obvious Friday he could entertain another big-money career in something else.

Poker.

He has the face for it.

In a classic recruiting showdown between Pacific-12 Conference powerhouses Oregon and USC, Conerly's expressionless staredown kept coaches - and fans - from both schools at the edge of their seats right up to the final second.

It wasn't until Conerly pulled a Ducks' hat out of a small backpack and put it on that the battle was over. Oregon's come-from-behind quest was complete.

"Oregon came a long way to get back into the race," Rainier Beach football coach Corey Sampson said. "A couple of months ago, they were out of it."

Mario Cristobal left the Ducks to take the Miami job in early December. A week later, Dan Lanning's name surfaced as the replacement, which became official by the end of that month.

At the same time, Conerly - regarded as the nation's top offensive tackle prospect by many recruiting sites - wanted to narrow his college choices to six finalists.

"I told them, Josh is about to drop his top six (schools), and you guys are not on it, so you might want to call him ... and establish a relationship quickly," Sampson said.

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