Questions forward of USC’s first fall camp underneath Lincoln Riley

When Lincoln Riley took the reins of a USC program in determined want of a rebuild, nobody anticipated a brand new basis to be laid in a single day. Nonetheless, when Riley was requested in November how rapidly he might flip across the Trojans, he didn’t attempt to restrict expectations.

“In this day and age, I think it can happen quickly, I do,” Riley stated.

Quick ahead 9 months — and 20 transfers — later, and USC enters camp as probably the most intriguing roster experiments in school soccer, a group rebuilt nearly completely by the switch portal. Torn down primarily to the studs, the Trojans return this season with a brand new teaching employees, a brand new quarterback, a brand new backfield, two new potential All-American receivers, a brand new left sort out, a brand new corps of linebackers and a handful of latest faces within the secondary.

What Riley has already constructed over the course of a single offseason will stand as an early case research for program constructing within the age of the switch portal. Can a group that fully unraveled be fully reworked in a single day? We’ll know quickly sufficient.

As USC opens its first coaching camp of the Riley period on Friday, loads of different urgent questions must be answered first:

What ought to we count on from quarterback Caleb Williams and new high receiver Jordan Addison?

USC quarterback Caleb Williams warms up within the spring sport on the Coliseum on April 23.

(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Instances)

They grew up simply an hour aside within the Washington, D.C., space, however Caleb Williams and Jordan Addison didn’t know one another effectively till this previous spring, when Addison, the 2021 Biletnikoff Award winner, immediately turned out there within the switch portal, and Williams, USC’s new quarterback, turned his consideration to recruiting the reigning high receiver in school soccer.

“I was in his ear,” Williams stated final week. “I think I texted [linebacker] Shane [Lee]. I was like, ‘Text this kid.’ I think it was 15 of my teammates I had text Jordan. Like, guys, ‘We’re going to need him to go win some big games.’ That’s how important Jordan was. That’s how important all these guys I tried to help support and get here to come play with me.”

Wide receiver Jordan Addison runs with the ball during the second half against Syracuse.

Extensive receiver Jordan Addison runs with the ball throughout the second half in opposition to Syracuse in Syracuse, N.Y., on Nov. 27, 2021.

(Adrian Kraus / Related Press)

None could also be extra essential than Addison, who provides USC’s offense a deep risk not like some other in school soccer. Addison scored 10 touchdowns of 20-plus yards at Pittsburgh final season. At USC, teammates are already marveling over his velocity.

“He runs like 23 mph, which is crazy,” Williams stated. “He can do just about anything.”

We don’t but understand how Riley plans to deploy him. However for the Trojans, it’s been fairly a while since a quarterback-receiver connection has seemed this promising.

How a lot have new transfers helped the protection?

There’s no query USC might be loaded on offense, with a Heisman contender at quarterback and a bevy of latest weapons round him. Take into account that Riley, in seven seasons as coordinator and coach at Oklahoma, by no means as soon as completed exterior of the highest eight nationally in scoring offense, and it’s straightforward to check the Trojans scoring loads of factors in loads of methods this fall.

The crippling uncertainty is as an alternative reserved for the opposite facet of the ball, the place it’s unclear what we must always count on. The Trojans have been an abject mess on protection lately, however the unit that struggled to cease anybody final season has been completely overhauled. Twelve of USC’s 20 transfers and 5 of its seven freshmen come on the defensive facet, a lot of whom are anticipated to have roles straight away.

That turnover makes predicting USC’s defensive prowess this season an inexact science. We don’t know how all of these new items will match collectively in new coordinator Alex Grinch’s scheme. Or whether or not these new items had been a match for the protection within the first place.

However on paper, there are causes for optimism. For one, USC added a ton of expertise the place it was arguably weakest — at linebacker, beginning with Lee, whose ascent as a locker room chief has been noteworthy. He’s joined by Arizona State’s Eric Gentry, a fellow freshman All-American, former Utah signee Carson Tabaracci and Auburn switch Romello Peak in a linebacker room that appears nothing prefer it did a yr in the past.

The identical might be stated of USC’s secondary, which might see as many as 4 new starters.

“We expect to have a national championship-caliber defense here at USC,” Riley stated. “I believe we have the people to do that.”

Who would be the Trojans’ high move rusher?

USC defensive lineman Korey Foreman lines up for a play.

USC defensive lineman Korey Foreman traces up for a play throughout the second half in opposition to Washington State on Sept. 18, 2021, in Pullman, Wash.

(Younger Kwak / Related Press)

Former high recruit Korey Foreman was alleged to step proper into the function of fearsome move rusher as a real freshman. That lofty imaginative and prescient by no means fairly crystallized. And after a disappointing debut season, it’s arduous to know what the longer term holds for Foreman.

For now, it doesn’t seem {that a} beginning function is part of that image. Foreman sat out the spring with an damage, permitting Peak to surpass him on the depth chart and step seamlessly into the function of beginning edge rusher.

Whether or not he’ll maintain on to the spot by coaching camp is unclear. However after listening to coaches and gamers rave about Peak’s efficiency within the spring, there’s no purpose to suppose he’ll lose his grip on the function.

There’s nonetheless loads of time for Foreman to determine it out, after all. Within the spring, he reiterated a number of instances how “blessed” he was to have a contemporary begin on a rebuilt USC protection.

Nobody on that unit wanted a contemporary begin greater than Foreman, and arguably nobody on USC’s defensive entrance has extra expertise. Whether or not one will unlock the opposite this season is one other query completely.

How does Bobby Haskins’ wholesome return shake up the offensive line?

Offensive tackle Bobby Haskins gestures toward a coach.

Offensive sort out Bobby Haskins (70) gestures towards a coach within the second half in opposition to BYU on Oct. 30, 2021, in Provo, Utah.

(George Frey / Related Press)

He was anticipated to be one in every of USC’s most vital portal additions. However an ankle damage held new switch lineman Bobby Haskins out of spring ball, delaying his debut and including intrigue to a brewing battle on the offensive line.

Perceive this: Haskins was not introduced in as a grad switch to experience the bench. Now that he’s wholesome, the expectation is he’ll step in straight away at left sort out, the place he began 20 video games for Virginia. The true query is whom he would possibly displace within the course of.

Courtland Ford and Jonah Monheim had been USC’s beginning tackles for a lot of final season, and each might be in competition to start out reverse of Haskins. If Ford wins the job, Monheim might probably kick inside to proper guard, the place Justin Dedich began for a lot of the spring.

A redshirt senior, Dedich has dutifully waited his flip, enjoying the function of swing lineman for a number of seasons. Might his probability lastly emerge in his fifth season at USC?

How a lot will USC’s high freshmen be concerned this fall?

With so many new gamers, their first-year counterparts haven’t fairly obtained the identical billing forward of fall as they normally do. However there are a number of freshmen who may very well be family names by the tip of camp.

The obvious is Domani Jackson, the highest prospect within the state for the 2022 class. USC’s secondary is a wide-open competitors, and Jackson has the chops to make a direct impression. Whereas Colorado switch Mekhi Blackmon is bound to snag one nook spot, the opposite is up for grabs. It’s uncommon to see a freshman step in straight away at cornerback, however Jackson is in rarefied air as an athlete.

His Santa Ana Mater Dei Excessive teammate, Raleek Brown, might make the same splash on the opposite facet of the ball. A real all-purpose risk able to catching passes out of the backfield, Brown received’t begin in a conventional working again function as a freshman. Moderately, he’ll be deployed as a runner or receiver nonetheless Riley sees match.

It might take some time for that function to crystalize. As soon as it does, Brown might very effectively be a fixture within the offense by season’s finish.