Home Kobe shoes USC Football Spring 2022 Prospects: The Lincoln Riley era is underway

USC Football Spring 2022 Prospects: The Lincoln Riley era is underway


You can feel it in the air as you stroll through the John McKay Center and Heritage Hall. An electricity – a revitalized sense of excitement.

After the announcement of the hiring of Lincoln Riley, new USC head coachthe world of college football has exploded.

And things did not calm down. Between Oklahoma’s move to Los Angeles, signing the nation’s No. 1 transfer class, hiring an elite coaching staff, and making countless national media appearances, Riley did not have an offseason.

But now, on to football. The Trojan faithful waited for Riley and his team to pass through Goux’s Gate and enter Howard Jones Field. A new era begins.

“We are delighted to start” Riley said. “Spring Ball couldn’t have come soon enough! It’s been an off-season filled with recruiting, winter training and building a team culture. Now we’re ready to see what we’ve been working on. as a program, all together on the ground. There is still a lot of work to do, but we are moving in the right direction.”

Riley and his team are focused on rebuilding a program that went 4-8 (3-6 in Pac-12 Conference play) in the 2021 season, USC’s fewest wins since 1991 .

The Trojans are returning 76 players from the 2021 squad, including 51 who have seen action. Five starters are back on the attacking side of the ball and three on defense.

The returnees will be joined by the No. 1 ranked transfer class in the country, made up of 13 transfers. These 13, in addition to two freshmen, are on campus and participating in the Spring Ball. Six more freshmen arriving this summer round out USC’s signing class of 2022.

Riley has also brought together some of the best assistant coaches from across the country to run Troy’s football program.

“I truly believe we have assembled an elite group of coaches who will help rebuild this nationally recognized football program,” Riley said. “They have each been part of winning programs and have a championship mindset. These staff understand that championship teams have a culture base, and they know what that looks like and how to implement it. They recognize the tradition and expectations of this program and are eager to get to work.

On the offensive side of the ball, Josh Henson, most recently at Texas A&M, has 23 years of coaching experience primarily in the SEC and Big 12 and was on a national championship staff; he joins the program as an offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Joining Riley from Oklahoma is Denis Simmons, who holds an assistant head coaching title, will coach outside wide receivers and serve as the offensive passing game coordinator. He coached some of college football’s elite receivers. After an appearance at the Rose Bowl, Kiel McDonald’s joined the Utah Trojan staff. He has mentored some of the best running backs in the Pac-12 in recent years and will continue to coach running backs at Troy. Zach Hansonconsidered one of the best young coaches in the game, joins USC as a tight ends coach after recently coaching at Tulsa. Luc Huardwho originally joined the staff as an offensive analyst, will serve as the interim wide receivers coach while David Nichol is a far cry from a Trojan horse program focusing on a private medical matter.

On the defensive side of the ball, Riley brought Grumpy Alex from Oklahoma to serve as USC’s defensive coordinator. Grinch, who is considered one of the best defensive coordinators and secondary coaches in the country, will also coach the safeties. Brian Odom also arrives from Oklahoma and will coach inside linebackers while also serving as associate head coach for the defense. Shaun Nuaa former NFL Super Bowl-winning defensive end who has coaching experience in the Pac-12 and Big Ten, will lead the defensive line. Roy Manning, a former Big Ten and NFL linebacker who coached in three Power 5 conferences, joined the USC staff as outside linebackers coach, nickels coach and assistant head coach for defense. Ultimately, Gives Williams, one of the nation’s top scouts, returns to the Trojan coaching staff. After serving as USC’s interim head coach in 2021, Williams will lead defensive backs and serve as the defensive passing game coordinator.

Riley also brought Bennie Wylie of Oklahoma as director of football sports performance.


Trojan offense will feel loss of first-team USA wide receiver Drake London. Also named the 2021 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year and first All-Pac-12 teammate, London was a semi-finalist for the 2021 Biletnikoff Award and the Maxwell Award. Before breaking his ankle on a tackle while catching a touchdown late in the first half of Game 8 last year, London had 88 receptions for 1,084 yards with 7 touchdowns in just 7.5 games. He has played in 5 games in 2021 with 10 or more catches and 6 with at least 130 receiving yards. He and Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech in 2007 are the only Power 5 players with 88 catches in 8 games. He is the only Trojan to have two 15 or more catches in a game and the first Trojan with 5 consecutive 100-yard receptions since Marqise Lee in 2012 (London has 9 in total in his career). The offense also lost the cap Keaontay Ingram, who transferred to USC in the spring of 2021 and received an All-Pac-12 honorable mention last fall. Ingram rushed for a team-high 911 yards on 156 carries (5.8 average) with 5 touchdowns and caught 22 passes for 156 yards in 2021. Another tailback gone, Vavae Malepeai, rushed for 2,005 yards (21st on USC’s all-time rushing scale) in his career. In 2021, he rushed for 502 yards (second on USC) on 114 carries (4.4 average) with a team record 6 rushing touchdowns. tight end Erik Krommenhoekwho recorded 39 catches for 335 yards (8.6 average) with 3 touchdowns in his career while playing 57 games with 22 starts, is gone, as is Liam Jimmons started all 12 games at right offensive guard in 2021. Quarterbacks also left Kedon Slovis (652 passes out of 953 [68.4%] for 7,576 yards with 58 touchdowns and 24 interceptions in his career) and Jaxson Dart (117 out of 189 assists [61.9%] for 1,353 yards with 9 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in 2021), offensive lineman Jalen McKenzie (42 career games, including 19 starts) and tight end Michael Trigg (7 receptions for 109 yards [15.6 avg.] and 1 TND in 2021).

Defensively, the Trojans lose drake jackson, a three-year starter at outside linebacker. A second-team All-Pac-12 selection in 2021, Jackson has made 103 tackles, including 25 for losses (with 12.5 sacks), plus 4 deflections, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery and 1 forced fumble in his career. He has appeared in 28 career games, with 26 starts. Two-time team captain and three-year starting safety Isaiah Pola-Mao, who made 178 tackles, including 9 for losses of 41 yards (with 1.5 sacks for less than 13 yards), 5 interceptions, 8 deflections, 4 fumble recoveries and 1 forced fumble in his career, left. He appeared in 32 games with 29 starts. Three-year Fellow starter Chris Steel, an honorable mention 2021 All-Pac-12 cornerback who had 95 tackles (3 for a loss, with one sack), 12 deflections, one fumble recovery, one forced fumble and 3 interceptions in his career while appearing in 29 matches and starting 23 times, is gone. Just like his fellow cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart, who had 80 tackles, including 1 for a loss of 1 yard, plus 2 interceptions and 7 deflections in his career while appearing in 32 games, with 19 starts. Also left inside linebacker Kana’i Mauga (206 career tackles, including 16.5 for losses of 49 yards [with 5 sacks for minus 32 yards]6 deflections, 2 forced fumbles, 3 interceptions), nickelback Greg Johnson (98 career tackles, including 6.5 for a loss of 39 yards [with a sack for minus 14 yards]9 diversions, 3 interceptions with TD, 2 recovered fumbles and 2 forced fumbles), safety Chase Williams (85 tackles including 4.5 for losses of 10 yards [with a sack for minus 2 yards]1 fumble recovery, 1 deflection and 1 quarterback rush in his career while appearing in 32 games, with 15 starts) and outside linebacker Hunter Echos (50 career tackles, including 3.5 for a loss of 14 yards, 3 deflections, 1 recovered fumble).

On special teams, USC loses Aussie punter Ben Griffiths, who averaged 43.5 yards on 114 punts during his career, with 48 punts pinning opponents in the 20-yard line, 26 going for at least 50 yards and just 10 touchdowns. Two-year-old starting placekicker Parker Lewis, who had 26 field goals (including 17 last year, 2 shy of USC’s season record) and 35 PAT in his career, was traded. The Trojans are also losing one of the country’s best long snappers, Damon Johnsonwho broke five years for USC and was a two-time finalist for the Patrick Mannelly Award.

The Trojans will play seven home games at the Coliseum in Riley’s first season. USC will face 9 Pac-12 opponents and 3 non-conference foes.

USC will open its 2022 slate at the Coliseum on September 3 of Labor Day weekend against Rice of the USA Conference. This will be the teams’ fourth meeting, but the first since 1971 (and the first at the Coliseum since 1948). The Trojans start the Pac-12 game the following week at Stanford September 10. This will be the Pac-12’s first championship game of the 2022 campaign. USC then returns to the Coliseum on Sept. 17 to host the Mountain West’s Fresno State, with new head coach Jeff Tedford. This will be the teams’ fourth meeting in 10 years. Troy then begins an eight-game series against first-visiting Pac-12 teams Oregon State on September 24, then back to the Coliseum for a two-game home game against Arizona State October 1 and washington state (with new trainer Jake Dickert) on October 8. USC visits defending Pac-12 champion Utah October 15, then has a week off before going to Arizona October 29. The November game begins with a home game against California on November 5, followed by a home game on Friday against Colorado on Nov. 11 (USC’s first Friday home game since 2019). Trojans wrap up 2022 regular season against traditional rivals, visiting crosstown opponent first UCLA on November 19, then hosting an intersectional enemy our Lady (led by new head coach Marcus Freeman) Nov. 26 of Thanksgiving weekend. It will be the first time since 2018 that USC has finished its regular season against the Bruins and then the Fighting Irish, in that order. Notre Dame, California and Colorado haven’t played at the Coliseum since 2018, while Troy hasn’t played at Stanford and Oregon State since 2018.