USC scholarship breakdown: Where the Trojans’ roster stands post-transfer portal deadline

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LOS ANGELES – Spring football is over, and the deadline to enter the transfer portal while maintaining eligibility at another school for the 2022 season has passed. So we have a pretty idea of ​​what USC’s bare minimum talent level this fall. There is still time for some notable additions – including one very notable one – but now that this portal window has basically closed, we know how much scholarship flexibility the Trojans have and which positions are still needed.

It’s a good time to examine USC’s scholarship distribution by position and analyze the remaining holes and what can be done about them before Week 1.

Quarterback (3)

Mo Hasan, R-Sr.
Caleb Williams, So.
Miller Moss, R-Fr.

2022 commits / signs: None

Notes: USC has three scholarship quarterbacks, but Hasan ruptured his Achilles tendon this spring, which puts his 2022 season in serious jeopardy.

The Trojans have a top-flight starter with Williams. Moss appeared to make steady progress under Riley this spring and gave fans some reasons to be optimistic about his potential as the backup quarterback. But rolling into the season with just two healthy scholarship quarterbacks is far from ideal.

On the first day of spring practice, Riley didn’t rule out the possibility of bringing in a quarterback through the transfer portal, but the Trojans would be in for an extremely tough pitch with Moss generating some buzz this spring and five-star commit Malachi Nelson set to join the program in January.

Running back (4)

Travis Dye, R-Sr.
Austin Jones, Sr.
Darwin Barlow, R-Jr.

2022 commits / signees: Four-star Raleek Brown

Notes: Brown will be utilized in an all-purpose role and will spend plenty of time in the slot, so he shouldn’t be considered a traditional running back. That leaves USC with three scholarship players at the position. Dye carried a heavy load for Oregon’s offense last year, and Jones started for a Pac-12 program (Stanford) recently. Then there’s Barlow, who has flashed in spurts.

It might not be USC’s biggest need, but adding depth here would be helpful, though the Trojans would need to convince a transfer to buy into waiting a year for a clearer path to playing time.

Receiver (10)

Terrell Bynum, R-Sr.
John Jackson III, Sr.
Kyle Ford, R-Jr.
Tahj Washington, R-Jr.
Brenden Rice, Jr.
Gary Bryant Jr., So.
Mario Williams, So.
Michael Jackson, So.
Kyron Ware-Hudson, R-Fr.
CJ Williams, Fr.

2022 commits / signs: None

Notes: USC could go into this season with this group and be fine, but it still lacks a true No. 1 target. Enter highly coveted Pitt transfer Jordan Addison, who won the Biletnikoff Award in 2021. Of course, Alabama and others will have a say in where Addison lands over the coming weeks.

Now that the transfer deadline has passed, the concern over potentially losing a wideout by bringing in Addison has seemingly decreased – unless one of these receivers is comfortably sitting out a year.

Again, not USC’s most pressing need, but if you have the opportunity to add someone like Addison, you do it.

Tight end (5)

Josh Falo, R-Sr.
Malcolm Epps, R-Sr.
Ethan Rae, R-Jr.
Jude Wolfe, R-Jr.
Lake McRee, R-Fr.

2022 commits / signs: None

Notes: It’s not the most dynamic group – losing Michael Trigg to Ole Miss definitely hurt in that respect – but the Trojans are still fine at tight end. This position has been a priority in recruiting, though. USC has pursued blue-chip 2023 prospects Walker Lyons and Duce Robinson heavily as it prepares to build for the future at a tight end.

Offensive line (13)

Brett Neilon, R-Sr.
Andrew Vorhees, R-Sr.
Justin Dedich, R-Sr.
Bobby Haskins, R-Sr.
Gino Quinones, R-Jr.
Jason Rodriguez, R-Jr.
Courtland Ford, R-So.
Jonah Monheim, R-Fr.
Andres Dewerk, R-So.
Andrew Milek, R-So.
Caadyn Stephen, R-So.
Max Gibbs, So.
Mason Murphy, R-Fr.

2022 commits / signs: None

Notes: Neilon and Vorhees seem pretty locked into starting spots. If Haskins and Dedich join them in the starting five, USC would have four seniors on its offensive line this fall.

That creates a depth of concern not just for this fall, when the Trojans may only have 13 scholarship offensive linemen, but for the future as well. Fixing that problem is easier said than done because offensive quality linemen aren’t easy to come by in the portal. I think USC would be happy if it was able to bring in one additional quality lineman this summer. Last weekend the program hosted Butler Community College offensive lineman Cooper Lovelace, who also holds offers from Florida, Oklahoma State and Iowa State.

Defensive line (11)

Brandon Pili, R-Sr.
Nick Figueroa, R-Sr.
Solomon Tuliaupupu, R-Sr.
Tyrone Taleni, Sr.
Stanley Ta’ufo’ou, R-Jr.
Earl Barquet, R-Jr.
De’Jon Benton, R-Jr.
Tuli Tuipulotu, Jr.
Kobe Pepe, R-So.
Jamar Sekona, R-So.
Colin Mobley, R-Fr.

2022 commits / signs: None

Notes: The USC could certainly use some help here a year after having this weakness exploited by several opposing offenses. The defensive line is the roster’s most worrisome position group at the moment. Tuipulotu is really good, but there are not a lot of proven players around him, and those who have flashed in spurts in the past have not always been the healthiest (Figueroa) or most consistent (Pili).

The Trojans pursued Nebraska transfer Casey Rogers, but he recently picked Oregon, where his former defensive line coach Tony Tuioti now holds the same position.

Arizona State defensive line transfer Jermayne Lole is arguably the best defensive lineman in the transfer portal, and the Long Beach (Calif.) Native could definitely help USC along the defensive line. But there is a power regarding necessary credits that prevents the Trojans from pursuing him, according to a source.

So Lole is currently slated to visit Louisville, Florida, Texas Tech and Oregon. Meanwhile, USC will have to look elsewhere for transfer portal help.

Rush end (4)

Tayler Katoa, R-Sr.
Romello Height, R-So.
Korey Foreman, So.

2022 commits / signees: Three-star Devan Thompkins

Notes: Like everyone else in the country, USC wants more pass rush help. Height made a really strong impression during spring ball, and based on what coaches and players said during those 15 practices, it might be wise to buy some stock in him.

Foreman has the talent, but his full potential hasn’t been unlocked for one reason or another since he arrived at USC. If he can become a more consistent player in his second year of college football, that’ll go a long way in helping address this need.

Inside linebackers (8)

Shane Lee, Sr.
Ralen Goforth, Sr.
Chris Thompson Jr., Jr.
Tuasivi Nomura, R-Jr.
Eric Gentry, So.
Raesjon Davis, So.
Julien Simon, R-Fr.

2022 commits / signees: Three-star Garrison Madden

Notes: USC desperately needed to upgrade at linebacker this offseason and has made some pretty good progress. Lee instantly became one of the locker room leaders after arriving from Alabama. He was a freshman All-American in 2019 but was slowed by injuries the past two seasons.

Goforth has started the past two seasons, but the Trojans just added Gentry, a freshman All-America linebacker at Arizona State last season who will push for that starting role.

The rest of the group carries a lot of question marks. Can Davis take more positive steps forward? What’s Simon’s outlook? Can Thompson provide anything to this group after transitioning from safety?

It’s also worth keeping an eye on Utah transfer Carson Tabaracci, who visited USC this past weekend.

Defensive backs (17)

Mekhi Blackmon, R-Sr.
Briton Allen, R-Jr.
Adonis Otey, R-Jr.
Max Willams, R-Jr.
Bryson Shaw, Jr.
Xavion Alford, R-So.
Joshua Jackson Jr., R-So.
Jaylin Smith, So.
Latrell McCutchin, So.
Calen Bullock, So.
Ceyair Wright, R-Fr.
Prophet Brown, R-Fr.
Anthony Beavers Jr., R-Fr.
Xamarion Gordon, R-Fr.
Domani Jackson, Fr.

2022 commits / signees: Four-star safety Zion Branch, four-star cornerback Fabian Ross

Notes: Blackmon is a heavy favorite to start at the corner after transferring in this offseason. He’s an exception to a group that is generally light on experience. The rest of the secondary has some on-field maturing to go through, but Bullock has star potential and Williams should be solid at nickel.

The spring game looked like a rough showing for the secondary, but Blackmon and several other contributors missed the game. Because of injuries, cornerback looked like a particularly thin position group this spring. That might be why USC is pursuing Washington transfer Jacobe Covington at that spot. The Trojans have already brought in Ohio State transfer Bryson Shaw for additional depth at safety.

Specialists (2)

K Alex Stadthaus (R-Sr.)

2022 commits / signs: Atticus Bertrams, Fr.

Notes: USC seems to be set at punter and kicker with Stadthaus returning and Bertrams set to join the fold this summer.

Non-NFL Departures (23)

Transfer portal (21): QB Kedon Slovis (Pitt), DL Jacob Lichtenstein (Miami), K Parker Lewis (Ohio State), OL Liam Douglass, LB Hunter Echols (Arizona), LB Raymond Scott (Fresno State), LB Juliano Falanico (Idaho), RB Kenan Christon, DB Chase Williams (San Jose State), WR Joseph Manjack IV (Houston), OL Casey Collier (Oklahoma State), QB Jaxson Dart (Ole Miss), TE Michael Trigg (Ole Miss), WR Bru McCoy (Tennessee), DB Jayden Williams (Louisville), DL Ishmael Sopsher, LB Kaulana Makaula (Hawaii), DL Maninoa Tufono, RB Brandon Campbell (Houston), OL Ty Buchanan (Texas Tech), LB Eli’Jah Winston

Left the program (2): Dorian Hewett, Jake Smith

Unofficial scholarship count: 77

Final thoughts: I think there’s a surprise on two fronts with this transfer portal wave. The first is that there was less talent than expected flocking to the portal once spring ball ended. The second is that there weren’t a few more USC players who entered the transfer portal. Winston was the only Trojan who entered the portal once spring ball ended. Addison remains the most high-profile target, though it’s far from a sure thing he ends up at USC. There are less flashy but still intriguing options like Tabaracci also on the radar.

During spring practice, Riley estimated that the Trojans would have double-digit transfer additions this spring. They’ve brought in Shaw and Gentry so far, and with eight open scholarship spots, USC still has the space to hit that double-digit mark. Whether there are enough quality players to fill those spots remains to be seen.

(Photo: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

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