Lincoln Riley doesn’t attack the transfer portal without a plan. The USC head coach uses the portal to fill in the gaps on his team, which is why the Trojans have only signed 14 transfers this offseason.
Still, those 14 players all have a specific role in the hopes of taking USC to the next level and into the College Football Playoffs. Not only has Riley plugged in key offensive players around Heisman Trophy QB Caleb Williams, but is filling out his defense with some of the portal’s finest at the same time.
“When you look at USC, they’ve got Marshawn Lloyd on the offensive side of the ball to help tote the run for them, They have Emmanuel Pregnon shoreing up the trenches on the offensive side of the ball,” On3’s JD PicKell said on a recent episode of The Hard Count. “To me, it feels like USC did the best job of addressing needs. USC is already a good football team — there’s a reason they’re in that top-five range when it comes to national title odds, but they did a lot to help themselves.
“They got a lot of good players specifically on the defensive side of the ball. Mason Cobb, linebacker from Oklahoma State already stepping into a leadership role. You’ve got big Bear Alexander from Georgia, going to be wreaking havoc in the interior for the defensive line. You’ve also got Anthony Lucas, a former top prospect from Texas A&M.”
A huge spotlight will be on Caleb Williams and his USC Trojans this fall, though it’s one he certainly earned after throwing for 4,537 yards and 42 touchdowns, while also rushing for 382 yards and another 10 scores. Those stats earned him his aforementioned Heisman Trophy — which generally means you’re the best player in college football.
Adding Williams’ Heisman status to a group of returning starters and incoming instant-impact transfers will undoubtedly pencil the Trojans in as one of college football’s teams to beat heading into the 2023 season.
“When you look at USC and everything that was on the wish list that you were hoping Lincoln Riley would come back with this portal haul — USC has it in spades,” PicKell said. “There’s a reason why they have the No. 1 portal class.”
The Trojans will get their season started on Aug. 26 against San Jose State, but won’t see their first game against, at least on paper, legitimate competition until Oct. 14 on the road against Notre Dame.
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