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Six years. It's a career length that Kyle Ford never even considered coming out of Orange (Calif.) Lutheran.

He ranked as a five-star recruit. He planned to be a three-and-out prospect when he signed with USC. Instead, he's in the transfer portal for a second time, looking for his third school in a career nagged by injury.

But that's OK. Ford knows that every journey is different.

He's fully healthy for the second offseason in a row. He's ready to re-emerge as the player that he and so many other people thought he'd be coming out of high school.

Ford wants to prove that he is that player.

"I always like to have a chip on my shoulder," Ford told 247Sports. "I read something here and there. I even have something as my screensaver that says something along the lines of, 'I'm not what I used to be.' I love that type of stuff. That's what I'm trying to set out to prove and take off from there."

Ford looked to be on a rocketship trajectory going back to high school. He dominated as a junior, catching 91 passes for 1,468 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Then he put together, arguably, the best performance by a wide receiver in the history of The Opening, which was an annual gathering of the top recruits in the country ahead of their senior seasons.

Just a few months later, however, everything hit pause as Ford tore his ACL during his senior season.

Ford worked his way back slowly, even flashing his potential with a spectacular touchdown grab against Oregon late in his true freshman season with USC. It appeared that Ford would be a huge part of the Trojans' 2020 offense.

Then, just seven months later, Ford injured his knee again. He needed surgery, which forced him to miss the entire season and the following spring.

Those back-to-back injuries wrecked Ford's confidence, mentally testing someone who had been only supremely confident in his abilities growing up.

"It just felt like, you know, the world was falling down," Ford said. "It was rough."

Ford posted 19 catches for 252 yards and two touchdowns in 2021, but Ford said that he didn't really fully feel like himself again until midway through 2022, more than four years since he initially injured his knee; Ford posted a career-best 114 yards in October 2022 against Arizona.

Since then, Ford said that he's never felt better. He transferred from USC following the 2022 season and emerged as a key contributor for crosstown UCLA, catching 22 passes for 236 yards and a touchdown during an up-and-down campaign for the Bruins' passing attack.

"This last year was a whole other story," Ford said. "But that's still the most confident I've been and the most healthy I've been."

Ford is an intriguing target for teams in the transfer portal. Not only is he an experienced option, but he's shown to be a major threat in contested catch situations. Ford is 17 of 27 in his career in those moments, according to PFF, showing the ability to use his 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame to box out opponents and make plays in 50-50 situations.

It's something that Ford has always been good at, but the production also stems from making the most of his opportunities, he said.

"At the end of the day, I just want it more," Ford said. "Certain teams I've been on I've had limited opportunities, so when the opportunity comes, I've got to go catch it."

In terms of his next step, Ford publicly released a top six of Michigan, Florida, Wake Forest, South Carolina and Ohio State.

Ford told 247Sports that he's working to set up a visit to Michigan and has already visited USC for the Trojans' spring game over the weekend; 247Sports' Matt Zenitz reported Monday night that the current expectation is for Ford to transfer back to the Trojans.

Ford remembers being a bit nervous about his USC visit after the Trojans reached out to him initially in the portal.

He's an alumnus, of course. He graduated from USC. But after transferring to rival UCLA last offseason, Ford was worried about how the fans would react. They welcomed him with open arms, he said.

"It was a good feeling to go back and be welcomed by literally my alumni," Ford said. "It was cool. It was, walking in and being welcomed, like a little weight on my shoulders."

Ford said that a decision should come soon in his transfer process. He described his timeline as nearing an end.

He's entering Year 6 of his college football career — a number that he still finds a bit weird — and doesn't have a lot of time to waste.

"I want to get to work," Ford said. "I want to get in a system, get in an offense and get rolling. I don't have time to play around this year."