Q: What was your process in deciding to leave school early?
Rachal: The reason I came out early is because of my mother. My mother has a tumor the size on a six-month old in her stomach, but my mother has no insurance. My dad’s dealing with injuries - two hernias got taken out of his stomach - and he has no insurance. So basically I had an opportunity and I had to go. I would have loved to have come back and gotten my degree and play another year under Coach (Pete) Carroll. At the same time I had to do what’s best for my family.
Q: Is your mother in the hospital now?
Rachal: She’s getting the treatment she can get now but without the good insurance you can’t get the treatment you really need.
Q: Who’s paying for treatment now?
Rachal: No one really right now. The Medicare she gets from the government right now.
Q: Is she in Compton?
Rachal: Yes my mother and father are still in Compton.
Q: Did you talk to Carroll about it?
Rachal: Yes, I told them. They were aware of the situation.
Q: Did he advise you to stay or go?
Rachal: If a coach has a good player that wants to leave of course the coach is going to try to convince him to come back. At the same time my situation is bad so I had to do what’s best for my family.
Q: What are your parents’ names?
Rachal: Veronica Pickett, Charles Rachal.
Q: Did your mom’s situation make it easier to come out and work hard?
Rachal: I love my mother and I’m going to do the best thing I can to put her in a better situation. She’s my motivation every day I wake up.
Q: What about your dad?
Rachal: He had two hernias removed from his stomach so now he’s just dealing with tendonitis in his knees. My dad’s 64 but he still carries the wheelbarrows up and down the stairs every day to take care of my mother.
Q: How old is mom?
Rachal: My mother is 39
Q: What kind of treatment has she had?
Rachal: I really don’t know the exact specifics of it. I don’t really get into all of it. I just know she has a tumor the size of a six-month old in her stomach.
Q: When did you learn about her condition?
Rachal: My mother didn’t want to tell me during the season because she thought it would take me off my game during the season. So she waited towards the end of the season to tell me. And once I knew I had to make the decision that was best for her.
Q: So you knew in the Rose Bowl about it?
Rachal: Yeah. After the last home game, which is the UCLA game, that’s when she informed me. Right after the game.
Q: Do you have any siblings?
Rachal: I have three brothers, one sister. I had two brothers that were killed and I have one brother that’s alive now and I have one sister. But the brother is the same dad, different mom.
Q: How did they die?
Rachal: Violence, out in the streets.
Q: How did you avoid that?
Rachal: Because my mom raised me differently that them. My mom and my dad did a good job of sheltering me from that stuff. Me knowing the path that they took and how they ended up definitely motivated me.
Q: How old were you when they were killed?
Rachal: One of my brothers was killed when I was born and another was when I was like nine.
Q: So was football an outlet for you?
Rachal: Yes because a lot of people where I’m from don’t get this opportunity?
Q: You mentioned your dad and wheelbarrows…
Rachal: My dad works in construction, he does construction. Me knowing the status of my dad, I don’t like my dad working like that with the injuries he’s dealing with. But at the same time he’s the one making money to take care of my mother.
Q: do you know if your mom’s cancer or malignant or benign?
Rachal: I don’t know the exact details.
Q: Was it an easy decision to leave USC?
Rachal: It took me a while to think about what I wanted to do because there was a lot I wanted to do at SC. I wanted to get my degree. I wanted to become an All American.