The flashy speculation became reality Sunday for college football. Lincoln Riley is in fact the head coach of USC, making a rare move from a national powerhouse to one potentially on the brink of resurrection.
The dynamic offensive mind, known as perhaps the top quarterback developer in the sport, is already in Los Angeles ready to get to work.
Beyond the introductory press conference, scheduled for Monday, the first orders of the day are to build your staff and hit the recruiting route to salvage an unsatisfactory USC pledge list in the class of 2022.
The Trojans have only eight public engagements right now among high school football players. Most will complete the process on December 15, the first day of the Early Signing Period, so Riley and her staff must get to work immediately (beyond the transfer portal) to try to attract additional talent. It won’t be easy, although few have the track record that the new USC leader has at this time of year.
Beyond filling staff, officially at least, there are priorities and potential methods for Riley to make the most of the next two weeks on the job.
Quarterbacks to watch
Six engagements to Lincoln Riley have announced intentions to withdraw from their OU engagements since the news broke, three in the 2022 class and three more in 2023, none more important than elite junior quarterback Malachi Nelson (of Los Alamitos, Calf). . Possibly the best recruit nationally in 2023, Nelson was Caleb Williams’ theoretical heir in Norman. The Sooners did not have a 2022 quarterback on the commitment list, thanks in part to the appearance of Williams and the uncertainty surrounding Spencer Rattler’s status.
The veteran quarterback also took the next step in his career on Monday, announcing his intentions to enter the transfer portal. Casual college fans could tie Riley to Rattler in a California reboot, something like a one-year rental for the Arizona native to repair his reputation on the field before the 2023 NFL Draft. But that would be silly. To think that Riley’s career at the position would be satisfying with the Rattler layup, especially with Williams seemingly considering all of his options with more eligibility behind him as a true freshman.
Either way, Trojans lack quarterback depth, to put it mildly. Junior Kedon Slovis, who was beaten and benched in 2012, is an uncertainty to be on the 2022 roster. Freshman Jaxson Dart shined a lot during his opportunities this season and his partner Miller Moss, a 2021 SI99 member. , is also at the beginning of his career at USC. Attrition is often expected with training changes, so even a portal addition like Rattler may not be enough starting in 2022.
USC had a 2022 high school recruit on board for over a year in Devin Brown, a name everyone who follows the sport should know. The Draper (Utah) Corner Canyon star moved from Arizona to work on a more open and extended concept (like the one Riley is famous for) and it paid off in setting the Utah state record for passing yards of 4,881 when leading the program for the state game title. His recruitment exploded at the same rate, with Ohio State, Ole Miss, Texas and others working on the old verbal Trojan until it was released last week. Brown has said he would like to play at USC, but was waiting for a possible adjustment in the new hire, something that lines up well for Riley should Brown resurface as a Trojan priority.
Blocking the locals
From a macro perspective, USC’s downfall is coupled with California’s lack of elite talent on the roster relative to programs vying to win national championships. It’s not about volume, but about 1% of the best recruits in the state, and more specifically in the greater Los Angeles area. Going into the 2021 season, Bryce Young, DJ Uiagalelei and Matt Corral topped Heisman’s predictions. Ohio State’s CJ Stroud chimed in shortly after. Each quarterback is a native of Southern California, and Young and Corral became engaged to USC at one point in their draft.
Other area college football stars endorsed him again in 2021 including Chris Olave (Ohio State), Kayvon Thibodeaux (Oregon), Xavier Worthy (Texas), David Lloyd (Utah), Zach Charbonnet (UCLA), Jermaine Burton (Georgia), Beaux Collins (Clemson), etc., raising the question why USC struggled to keep the elites at home.
Looking at the 2022 SI99 ranking, USC has only one member currently on board in New Jersey defensive back, Jaeden Gould. California has the fourth-largest membership in the nation, second only to Texas, Florida, and Georgia. Of the seven, cornerback Domani Jackson and his Santa Ana, Calif. Teammate Mater Dei David Bailey are undecided. They are both considering USC. Jackson was held there for most of this year, although the Trojans appear on the outside looking inward at the time of this writing. The elite cornerback is more focused on Alabama and Michigan, while Bailey looks to Stanford and Oregon in addition to the local school. Another Mater Dei standout, Raleek Brown, has long been engaged to Riley at OU, so if there is a forecast of a shift in engagement to meet the local and national USC recruiting sensation, the running back talent from three chances can be. He’s already hinted at it.
In the 2021 cycle, USC signed four SI99 recruits, including three within state lines in Moss, linebacker Raesjon Davis and defensive lineman Korey Foreman. Six members of the state’s SI99 ended up elsewhere, with Collins, Worthy, Brock Bowers in Georgia, and Tyler Buchner in Notre Dam among those immediately flashing for their respective shows as true freshmen, the kind of instant impact that it gives. the benefit to a struggling coach. hesitates or gives a newly hired coach validation for their ability to identify talents and close the recruiting path. It starts at QB and home, two areas in which Riley has made a name for himself, so the buzz in Los Angeles should be pretty high on both fronts.
Norman to Los Angeles?
Beyond Rattler, Raleek Brown or perhaps Williams, there are likely more ties to OU on the 2022 USC list. Wide receiver Theo Wease also intends to hit the portal on Monday, as speculation will only increase that Riley will bring in the players he knows best with the one-time transfer rule and the pandemic-laden additional year of eligibility all up for grabs. .
Among the three releases OU has suffered in the 2022 class in the past day, defensive lineman Derrick Moore is an All-America Game selection with national offers to his name, including USC under the old regime. Of course, more wear and tear from the talented 2021 OU roster is likely to be expected, not just during bowl season, but potentially in and after spring under the new regime.
As with traditional recruiting, the first-year win-loss record, and the general perception (or social media in general), it’s too early to make any real judgments in Los Angeles. But there are also a myriad of reasons for true optimism on the hike to regain one of the pillars of the sport.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.