LOS ANGELES — USC officially signed 19 players connected Wednesday successful a recruiting people that ranks 18th successful nan state successful nan 247Sports Composite. Here are immoderate takeaways from nan Trojans’ recruiting efforts.
1. USC’s time went comparatively smoothly pinch 1 notable exception: Four-star receiver Ryan Pellum, who committed to nan Trojans successful precocious June, flipped to USC’s main recruiting rival, Oregon.
Losing retired connected a receiver isn’t nan extremity of nan world for USC, which still signed Xavier Jordan, nan top-rated receiver successful California (ahead of Pellum). But losing retired connected different section merchandise to Oregon, which has won immoderate captious recruiting battles against nan Trojans nan past 3 cycles, is not ideal.
2. With Pellum’s flip, USC signed conscionable 2 of nan apical 25 prospects successful California. Oregon signed 7 and is nan favourite to onshore an eighth, four-star protect lineman Jericho Johnson.
Riley was asked astir section recruiting during his early signing play media availability. He said aft accepting nan occupation astatine USC, he took a heavy dive into why things weren’t clicking successful erstwhile years. One point he noticed was a roster afloat of California players. He emphasized that nan Trojans still want to motion in-state prospects but want “the correct guys” from California.
“The different point that’s shifted excessively is group person sewage to recognize we’re not successful nan Pac-12 anymore. Those days are over,” Riley said. “Look wherever we’re playing. Look astatine nan title we’re playing. Look astatine wherever a mostly of our convention lies. That alone, pinch there’s conscionable a batch of changes pinch assemblage shot successful wide wherever nary authorities of players is conscionable staying location for illustration they utilized to. Now that is not maine saying Southern California is not a priority. Hell yeah, it’s a priority. Absolutely, it’s a priority. It will ever be. It’s nan 1 authorities our coaches person an area to enlistee — each azygous coach connected our unit does. … But we are going to make judge we’re signing nan correct guys retired of California. We’re not going to return them conscionable because they’re our location state.”
“Our extremity is to compete astatine nan highest level” — @LincolnRiley
(via @B1Gfootball) pic.twitter.com/2sQjnpqUn7
— USC Football ✌️ (@uscfb) December 21, 2023
3. The different point missing from this class? A quarterback. USC has conscionable 2 danasiwa quarterbacks connected nan roster astatine nan moment: Miller Moss and Jake Jensen. Moss, who will commencement nan Holiday Bowl, was a personnel of nan 2021 people and will beryllium successful his 4th assemblage play adjacent year. Jensen has not thrown a walk astatine USC.
The position group lacks depth, younker and experience. Kansas State’s Will Howard visited past week and is simply a target, but Riley said there’s “certainly a chance” USC will adhd 2 quarterbacks done nan portal.
“We’re looking astatine options there,” he said. “It’s evidently a very intriguing position for evident reasons truthful (we’re) starting to sift done options because that prime for america is going to beryllium an important choice. Certainly, nan anticipation correct now exists that we could return arsenic galore arsenic 2 quarterbacks successful nan portal — perchance 1 older 1 and 1 younger one.”
4. Nine of nan 19 signees play on nan statement of scrimmage.
Riley described them as, “Large quality beings. Large, ample quality beings. People that are very, very reliable to move and they’re bully astatine moving different people.”
Center Jason Zandamela and separator rusher Kameryn Fountain are nan 2 headliners. The Trojans request thief connected some sides of nan statement of scrimmage, particularly arsenic they move into nan Big Ten.
The rumor is that Zandamela and Fountain are nan only line-of-scrimmage players who rank successful nan apical 300 nationally. USC has to commencement landing much high-level players successful nan trenches.
Zandamela is nan first top-200 nationalist violative lineman USC has signed since Justin Dedich, who is presently successful his sixth twelvemonth pinch nan programme and group to play his last crippled adjacent week. That’s a agelong time.
On nan violative line, nan coaching unit is fundamentally saying: spot our information and development. That’s asking for rather nan leap of faith, and nan separator for correction is beautiful thin. We’ll spot really that goes.
5. Riley said they wanted to reside some sides of nan statement but besides nan secondary. Four-star area Marcelles Williams, nan younger relative of existent USC information Max Williams, is nan highest-rated protect subordinate successful nan class.
The nonaccomplishment of Domani Jackson highlights really bladed USC’s extent is astatine area correct now. Williams brings immoderate bully size to nan position astatine 5-foot-11, 185 pounds. On Wednesday, nan Trojans besides added Mississippi State transportation DeCarlos Nicholson, who posted 42 tackles and 2 walk breakups for nan Bulldogs this season. Nicholson has really coagulated size for a area arsenic good astatine 6-3, 195 pounds.
6. USC has suffered immoderate attrition astatine moving backmost this offseason and lacks extent astatine nan position. The Trojans signed three-star backmost Bryan Jackson but besides added Mississippi State transportation Jo’Quavious Marks, who rushed for 573 yards and 4 scores successful 2023. He’s an adept receiver retired of nan backfield arsenic well; he caught 83 passes successful 2021 playing nether Mike Leach.
USC has added six transfers this offseason.
7. Four-star tight extremity Walter Matthews officially signed his missive of intent aft Riley said to nan media. He joins four-star Joey Olsen successful a two-tight extremity class.
Tight ends coach Zach Hanson has softly added immoderate value players successful nan past 2 cycles. Next season, nan Trojans will person Lake McRee, Kade Eldridge, Carson Tabaracci (a converted linebacker), Matthews and Olsen. And four-star Class of 2023 imaginable Walker Lyons, who is serving his ngo for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints successful Norway, is scheduled to subordinate nan programme successful nan fall.
That’s a talented group, which should springiness USC immoderate much diverseness connected discourtesy adjacent fall.
8. If you’re viewing things done an optimistic lens, you’ll apt opportunity USC brought successful a coagulated class. If you’re connected nan much pessimistic side, you’ll constituent retired that nan 18th-ranked recruiting people won’t beryllium putting USC successful contention for a nationalist title anytime soon.
On Wednesday, Riley said, “We came present to triumph nationalist championships.”
Recruiting has to amended if that’s nan case. Yes, we cognize USC’s management is connected nan much blimpish broadside pinch NIL, and Riley has not wanted to put clip successful recruits who are NIL-focused. But Riley is being paid for illustration a nationalist title caput coach, truthful nan onus is connected him to fig retired really to amended nan program’s recruiting.
Retaining Alex Grinch for nan 2023 play was a detriment to USC’s recruiting efforts this cycle. That should amended pinch D’Anton Lynn. And we’ll spot if nan Trojans tin make much inroads locally.
Here’s really I position nan class: It is fine. But Riley inherited a roster that was astatine specified a talent shortage that he needed to stack immoderate elite classes to dress up nan difference. So while a good people will upgrade USC’s talent level, it’s improbable to adjacent nan spread pinch immoderate of nan nation’s elite programs — aliases Oregon, which has nan No. 6 people successful nan state and was already a much talented team, top-to-bottom, than nan Trojans.
Unless this unit abruptly becomes 1 of nan champion successful nan athletics astatine evaluating and processing (and retaining) — which we haven’t seen yet — past recruiting will simply person to beryllium amended moving forward.
(Photo of Lincoln Riley: Dustin Bradford / Getty Images)