When Lincoln Riley took the reins of a USC software in determined have to have of a rebuild, no a single predicted a new foundation to be laid overnight. Continue to, when Riley was asked in November how speedily he could switch about the Trojans, he did not test to limit anticipations.
“In this working day and age, I feel it can transpire swiftly, I do,” Riley stated.
Quick ahead 9 months — and 20 transfers — afterwards, and USC enters camp as one particular of the most intriguing roster experiments in college soccer, a team rebuilt nearly totally by way of the transfer portal. Torn down effectively to the studs, the Trojans return this season with a new coaching staff members, a new quarterback, a new backfield, two new prospective All-American receivers, a new left deal with, a new corps of linebackers and a handful of new faces in the secondary.
What Riley has presently constructed around the system of a single offseason will stand as an early situation review for plan developing in the age of the transfer portal. Can a team that entirely unraveled be wholly reworked overnight? We’ll know quickly enough.
As USC opens its initially schooling camp of the Riley period on Friday, a good deal of other pressing questions will need to be answered very first:
What need to we anticipate from quarterback Caleb Williams and new best receiver Jordan Addison?
They grew up just an hour apart in the Washington, D.C., place, but Caleb Williams and Jordan Addison did not know each individual other effectively till this previous spring, when Addison, the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner, quickly became offered in the transfer portal, and Williams, USC’s new quarterback, turned his focus to recruiting the reigning top receiver in university football.
“I was in his ear,” Williams claimed final 7 days. “I believe I texted [linebacker] Shane [Lee]. I was like, ‘Text this kid.’ I feel it was 15 of my teammates I had text Jordan. Like, fellas, ‘We’re likely to will need him to go acquire some significant games.’ That’s how essential Jordan was. That is how important all these men I attempted to support assistance and get listed here to come play with me.”
None may possibly be far more very important than Addison, who offers USC’s offense a deep risk compared with any other in school soccer. Addison scored 10 touchdowns of 20-as well as yards at Pittsburgh previous period. At USC, teammates are by now marveling about his speed.
“He runs like 23 mph, which is mad,” Williams mentioned. “He can do just about something.”
We really don’t yet know how Riley designs to deploy him. But for the Trojans, it’s been rather some time because a quarterback-receiver relationship has seemed this promising.
How a great deal have new transfers assisted the defense?
There’s no issue USC will be loaded on offense, with a Heisman contender at quarterback and a bevy of new weapons all-around him. Think about that Riley, in seven seasons as coordinator and mentor at Oklahoma, never ever when concluded outside the house of the top rated 8 nationally in scoring offense, and it’s simple to visualize the Trojans scoring plenty of factors in a lot of ways this fall.
The crippling uncertainty is instead reserved for the other side of the ball, exactly where it’s unclear what we should really anticipate. The Trojans have been an abject mess on defense in current years, but the unit that struggled to quit any one previous season has been absolutely overhauled. Twelve of USC’s 20 transfers and five of its 7 freshmen appear on the defensive facet, numerous of whom are expected to have roles suitable absent.
That turnover would make predicting USC’s defensive prowess this season an inexact science. We have no strategy how all of those new parts will suit with each other in new coordinator Alex Grinch’s plan. Or no matter if individuals new parts had been a suit for the protection in the initial position.
But on paper, there are motives for optimism. For a single, USC added a ton of talent in which it was arguably weakest — at linebacker, starting off with Lee, whose ascent as a locker area leader has been noteworthy. He’s joined by Arizona State’s Eric Gentry, a fellow freshman All-American, previous Utah signee Carson Tabaracci and Auburn transfer Romello Height in a linebacker room that appears to be very little like it did a year ago.
The exact can be reported of USC’s secondary, which could see as lots of as four new starters.
“We count on to have a nationwide championship-caliber defense in this article at USC,” Riley explained. “I believe we have the people today to do that.”
Who will be the Trojans’ top rated pass rusher?
Previous prime recruit Korey Foreman was meant to move correct into the position of fearsome pass rusher as a legitimate freshman. That lofty eyesight never pretty crystallized. And following a disappointing debut year, it’s hard to know what the long run holds for Foreman.
For now, it doesn’t show up that a starting off role is a element of that picture. Foreman sat out the spring with an injury, allowing for Height to surpass him on the depth chart and move seamlessly into the job of commencing edge rusher.
No matter whether he’ll keep on to the place through schooling camp is unclear. But just after hearing coaches and gamers rave about Height’s functionality in the spring, there’s no explanation to imagine he’ll shed his grip on the purpose.
There’s nonetheless plenty of time for Foreman to figure it out, of program. In the spring, he reiterated a number of times how “blessed” he was to have a new get started on a rebuilt USC protection.
No one particular on that unit necessary a contemporary start extra than Foreman, and arguably no one particular on USC’s defensive front has extra talent. No matter if a single will unlock the other this year is a different question completely.
How does Bobby Haskins’ balanced return shake up the offensive line?
He was expected to be one particular of USC’s most significant portal additions. But an ankle harm held new transfer lineman Bobby Haskins out of spring ball, delaying his debut and adding intrigue to a brewing battle on the offensive line.
Understand this: Haskins was not introduced in as a grad transfer to journey the bench. Now that he’s wholesome, the expectation is he’ll move in suitable away at remaining deal with, where by he commenced 20 game titles for Virginia. The authentic concern is whom he may displace in the method.
Courtland Ford and Jonah Monheim ended up USC’s setting up tackles for significantly of previous year, and equally will be in contention to start off opposite of Haskins. If Ford wins the career, Monheim could probably kick inside to ideal guard, exactly where Justin Dedich started out for most of the spring.
A redshirt senior, Dedich has dutifully waited his change, actively playing the function of swing lineman for numerous seasons. Could his prospect lastly emerge in his fifth period at USC?
How considerably will USC’s top rated freshmen be involved this fall?
With so several new players, their first-year counterparts haven’t pretty obtained the similar billing forward of fall as they normally do. But there are a couple freshmen who could be household names by the conclusion of camp.
The most obvious is Domani Jackson, the top rated prospect in the condition for the 2022 class. USC’s secondary is a vast-open up opposition, and Jackson has the chops to make an speedy impression. While Colorado transfer Mekhi Blackmon is guaranteed to snag 1 corner place, the other is up for grabs. It is unusual to see a freshman action in suitable away at cornerback, but Jackson is in rarefied air as an athlete.
His Santa Ana Mater Dei High teammate, Raleek Brown, could make a very similar splash on the other side of the ball. A genuine all-reason danger able of catching passes out of the backfield, Brown won’t start in a conventional working again position as a freshman. Alternatively, he’ll be deployed as a runner or receiver however Riley sees in good shape.
It may take a while for that part to crystalize. When it does, Brown may possibly incredibly effectively be a fixture in the offense by season’s close.