The Lincoln Riley Era has begun for Southern California. After coaching two Heisman Trophy winners and two No. 1 overall picks to go along with a stunning 55-10 record in just five seasons as the head coach of Oklahoma, Riley left Norman and didn't look back.
The move shocked the college football world.
Now, Riley is being charged with turning around a proud USC football program that has lost some shine on its sword over the last few years. USC has seen nothing but inconsistency since their last bowl victory: A 2016 Rose Bowl win over Penn State. It's up to the new regime to change things, and quickly.
The Trojan Glory Restoration Project
USC fans are hoping Riley can do for the Trojans what Pete Carrol once did, as the current-NFL coach helped return glory and pride to USC. And Riley wasted no time in pushing for change before ever coaching his first game.
Through the transfer portal last offseason, USC put together a patchwork roster of NCAA football players that can win the Pac-12 in their new coach's very first year and what will be one of their final seasons before making the jump to the Big Ten. From Stanford to Ohio State, USC football has become a melting pot of collegiate talent that will dominate at the LA Coliseum. Don't sleep on the Pac-12, either. With big-name schools like Utah, UCLA and Oregon, just because the conference is splitting at the seams doesn't mean it'll be a cakewalk.
So let's look at the five players who will help Lincon Riley achieve first-year success in Los Angeles.
Caleb Williams, QB
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Remember Caleb Williams? The freshman quarterback who took the Oklahoma starting job away from the once highly-touted QB Spencer Rattler and never gave it back? Well, not only is he a great quarterback, but he is also paying back the man who put him in OU's driver's seat a year ago by following Coach Riley to California. In just half a season, Williams tossed 1,912 yards and 21 TDs to just 4 INTs for Riley and the Sooners. The sophomore looks to continue as a key piece in USC's offense with no signs of slowing down.
Jordan Addison, WR
Jordan Addison broke onto the scene last year as a key recipient of Kenny Pickett's passes in the Heisman QB finalist's campaign in Pitt. Now, Addison comes to USC by way of the transfer portal as one of the nation's top wide receivers. In two seasons at Pitt, he pulled in 160 passes for 2,259 yards and 21 TDs and All-ACC honors both years. He will be a nice deep ball threat in USC's arsenal, which also includes Colorado transfer Brenden Rice.
Mario Williams, WR
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Another weapon for Williams will be Mario Williams. The former No. 1 wide receiver recruit is poised for a breakout season. We think he will find success early and often in this new look USC offense. Additionally, with two aerial threats, Riley can use both Williams and Addison as decoys to establish a solid run game with running back Travis Dye, who transferred to USC from Oregon. More on him in a bit.
Tuli Tuipulotu, DT
The first team All-Pac-12 Tuli Tuipulotu comes into 2022 as one of the nation's top defenders. The 6-foot-4, 290-pound defensive standout has registered 70 tackles, 7.5 sacks, ten tackles for a loss, two forced fumbles, and one touchdown in two seasons. He was the bright spot in an otherwise mediocre defense last season. Let's hope the bruising back with a blue-collar work ethic inspires others to step up for the USC defense this season, like linebacker Ralen Goforth and defensive back Calen Bullock.
Travis Dye, RB
Travis Dye rounds out an impressive-looking USC offense assembled by Lincoln Riley. Let's hope that transfers to in-game performances as well. Dye is a fifth-year starter from Oregon. In four seasons with the Ducks, Travis Dye rushed 521 times for 3,111 yards with 29 all-purpose touchdowns. Now he is set to lead the Trojans and perhaps the Pac-12 in rushing yards.
MORE: The Winners and Losers After USC and UCLA Reportedly Seek Move to Big Ten By 2024
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