Top rookies raise expectations for USC football

Caleb Williams threw for 1,912 yards and 21 touchdowns in 10 games for Oklahoma after winning the starting quarterback job last season. (Amanda Chou | Daily Trojan file photo)

As the 2022 football season approaches, the start of the Lincoln Riley era at USC is also approaching. The new head coach has drawn a swarm of commits hoping to top the Pac-12 after going 3-6 in the conference finals last season.

USC’s overall commitments are the highest-ranked in the Pac-12 for the 2022 season, with an average player score of 90.94 out of 100. The Trojans have 30 new commitments, including 20 transfers and 10 rookies. Although the program trails Colorado, Arizona and Washington State with the most conference commitments (31), USC has gotten some of the best players in the country.

The program has two 5-star commitments, the most of any Pac-12 team. Cornerback Domani Jackson was the nation’s fifth-best rookie, and transfer quarterback Caleb Williams ranked seventh among the nation’s top rookies in 2021. Oregon, ranked second overall in the Pac-12 , is the only other team in the conference to host a 5-star commit this fall.

USC is expecting a talented group of freshman recruits — four of whom, Jackson, Raleek Brown, Zion Branch and CJ Williams, are ranked among college football‘s top 100 recruits for 2022. Every recruit who signed a letter of intent ranked among the top 100 recruits in their state.

USC’s 20 transfer commitments are the most of any other Pac-12 program this season. 247Sports ranks USC’s transfer lineup number one in college football, with an average score of 90.29 out of 100. Behind USC is Ole Miss with 89.50 and LSU with 88.27.

Three transfers, Williams, Latrell McCutchin and Mario Williams, transfer from Riley’s previous program at Oklahoma. Seven other transfers are from Pac-12 teams, including Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, Stanford, Utah and Washington.

Riley spoke to Trojans Live in April about his first season at USC, saying “this will be the most unique roster in USC football history.”

“It was a great transition,” Riley said. “The team atmosphere is really good.”

Riley described the type of player the Trojans seek as someone who embraces USC football culture. An ideal recruit should strive to achieve individual goals, but must understand that achieving team goals is of the utmost importance.

“We brought in guys who not only saw the opportunity here for themselves, but wanted to be part of the change and help lead the charge, and that’s been really positive,” Riley said.

The Trojans’ 2022 first Pac-12 matchup will take place on September 10 at Stanford.

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