An Early Look At USC’s 2022 Roster
We’re going to take a look at the USC Trojans football roster for next year and how the talent and depth will play a huge part in next season’s success. Now it is still very early in the year to be coming to any conclusions about roster-building or position outlooks. This isn’t going to be a deep dive on each position group; a more in-depth analysis will be available as the season draws closer. With that being said it doesn’t hurt to take a peek at what has unfolded so far.
The biggest news by far for the program was the transfer of Caleb Williams from Oklahoma to Southern California. We all knew it could happen and it was likely that he would be arriving on campus, but the decision was withheld longer than expected and many Trojan fans grew worrisome. Rumblings of Wisconsin and North Carolina making a push for Williams made the waiting game a little more difficult. Now that Lincoln Riley is reunited with his QB, and if the 2023 commitment of Malachi Nelson sticks, the Trojans won’t have to worry about the quarterback position for at least the next three to four years.
Last season the best player offensively for the Trojans was Drake London. It didn’t take a genius or expert analyst to see that. In his eight games before his injury against Arizona, he dominated every defensive back he lined up across. The best thing was they all knew who was getting the ball, but in the end, it didn’t matter. With the addition of four-star transfers Mario Williams and Brenden Rice, and the commitment of four-star wideout C.J Williams, the offense will have plenty of mouths to feed.
You can make a case that SC is at least top 10 for the title WRU (Wide Receiver Univ) up there with Clemson, Ohio State, and Alabama. Where I’m going with this is even if all these WRs don’t pan out to be home runs, the fact that 4 and 5-star talent even chose SC will pay off for years to come. The Term re-loading gets tossed around when analysts and reporters talk about Nick Saban and Alabama due to the influx of talent that rises up every year when starters leave for the NFL Draft. There’s no question the amount of talent that comes through that program is unmatched. However, if the Trojans and Lincoln Riley are successful, the acquisition of 4 and 5-star talent becomes far more realistic and consistent.
Ronald Jones, Stephen Carr, and Vavae Malepeai were all on the same team. No, I’m not saying they’re more talented than LenDale White and Reggie Bush, however, I think that room was as balanced as it’s ever been.
With the additions of Pac 12 transfer running backs Austin Jones and Travis Dye, the offense won’t have to lean on one back particularly. This leaves room for more rotation and fresher legs to help sustain long drives down the field. Not to mention former four-star Brandon Campbell and Darwin Barlow, who got playing time last year, are still with the team. It’ll be interesting to see if one back impresses and is the primary runner or if Riley wants to take the RB by committee approach.
Moving on to the Defense, which was… let’s face it, the worst it’s been in a very long time. There haven’t been as many splash transfers compared to the offensive additions, however, some depth has been acquired. Perhaps the commitment that most were excited for was five-star cornerback Domani Jackson. With Jackson and four-star safety Zion Branch, the Trojans will have some youth to take over and learn before having to start right away.
Some transfers in the secondary include former Oklahoma cornerback Latrell McCutchin and former Colorado Buff cornerback Mekhi Blackmon. Blackmon will most likely start due to his playing experience while Jackson and McCutchin will rotate in and out. Zion Branch will most likely start the year as a backup behind Calen Bullock and Xavien Alford. It’s only a matter of time before these talented five and four stars get opportunities.
Another position that was exposed last year was at linebacker. Some transfers will allow some flexibility but USC might need a few more transfers or commitments. Auburn transfer Romello Height will likely start at outside linebacker already having started for the Tigers. The transfer that went under the radar that I’m most interested in is Former Alabama Linebacker, Shane Lee. Shane Lee and Ralen Goforth will most likely start and will offer some more speed at the position in pass coverage situations. Underclassmen linebackers Raesjon Davis and Julien Simon will rotate in and out and will be able to showcase their athletic abilities.
The last position group we’ll touch on is this defensive line group. Now the run-stopping ability of the Trojans last season was below par to put it politely. When your defensive line can’t get pressure or fill gaps, that leaves the linebackers and the secondary to fill in as a stop-gap. Lincoln Riley hasn’t had a huge transfer or commitment in the trenches as of yet. However former TCU defensive lineman Earl Barquet and Kansas State defensive lineman Tyrone Taleni will most likely serve as rotational players. I’m sure upperclassmen Brandon Pili and Tuli Tuipulotu will get the nod as the starting defensive tackles. Former five-star commit Korey Foreman should most definitely get more playing time at defensive end with Nick Figueroa on the opposite side. With Korey Foreman playing sparingly last season, Riley will most likely want to see what he has in Foreman giving him more playing time.
Now, remember this is all speculation and it is so early in the year so most of this is subject to change. This is what I think will happen given the current roster construction.