USC Football: Lincoln Riley Downplays Bear Alexander Transfer Rumors, Talk Defensive Lineman’s Future, ‘He wants to leave a mark on this place.’

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On Wednesday news was leaked to the press that USC Football‘s top defensive line, Bear Alexander, would be entering the transfer portal when the new term starts on April 15. Those rumors were quickly put to bed by an anonymous source, then by Alexander himself via tweet.

After practice on Thursday, head coach Lincoln Riley was asked about the situation and the behind-the-scenes conversations that took place to change Alexander’s mind about leaving USC. Riley downplayed the situation and pivoted back to football.

“Really wasn’t that many conversations? I don’t know. I know there was a bunch of stuff on the outside. I know he felt the need to address it just because there was so much on the outside which can kind of start anywhere and everywhere this day and age. But I mean, kind of like they are every other week, honestly. Just checking in with him, he’s been a little injured out here. Nothing crazy but hasn’t been able to go full, go practice and that’s been tough for him because he’s dying to, he’s dying to be out there with his teammates. And that’s honestly been about the extent of it with Bear.”

Bear Alexander’s Future With USC Football

NCAA Football: Stanford at Southern California
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Riley was then asked what Alexander’s focus would be going forward.

Well, he’s learning, like all these guys, he’s learning a new system and obviously a very different way of playing the position than what we did a year ago. He’s gonna have to adapt and learn, learn that like all of our defensive linemen are. I think for him individually, it’s a battle of consistency. There’s obviously flashes of being a really good player, but the great ones less flashes and it’s more consistent and he certainly he has that ability. The other area we challenged him to grow is to continue from the leadership side.

He’s got a great heart. I think he’s really more invested in this team than maybe at any point last year where he was just kind of getting in. It was just a rush to learn it and to be ready to play. He’s grabbing young guys bringing them over to his house. He’s trying to really push. He doesn’t want to just be a good player. He wants to leave a mark on this place.

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Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports