Lincoln Riley Playing Musical Chairs with WRs

Transfer portal has helped Lincoln Riley reshape USC’s wide receiver group

Ryan Kartje (LA Times)  —   Lincoln Riley promised last month that he would mine the NCAA transfer portal for talent at every position. Recently, those efforts have honed in on one position in particular.

The departure of All-Pac-12 Conference wideout Drake London to the NFL draft left USC drastically short on proven wide receivers when Riley first arrived. But over the last two weeks, USC’s new coach and his staff have completely remade their receiver room through the portal, adding three of the top transfers available at the position: Oklahoma’s Mario Williams, Washington’s Terrell Bynum and Colorado’s Brenden Rice.

Any one of that trio, along with four-star freshman C.J. Williams, could make an immediate impact next season in an otherwise uncertain position group. With London gone, USC returns its next three leading receivers — Tahj Washington, Gary Bryant Jr. and Kyle Ford — all three of whom will have to prove themselves in Riley’s offense starting this spring.

It was Bryant who stepped up as USC’s top target in the wake of London’s injury last season, reeling in 370 yards and four touchdowns over his final four games. But as the Trojans remake their receiving corps, it’s unclear how prominently their returners will factor in alongside their fleet of transfers.

Rice, a four-star wide receiver in the 2020 class, on Tuesday became the latest to choose the Trojans out of the transfer portal. The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice, he had 27 catches for 419 yards and five touchdowns in two seasons at Colorado.

He wasn’t the only wideout Riley poached from within the Pac-12. Bynum, a former Bellflower St. John Bosco product, joins USC after leading a struggling Washington air attack in receiving yards per game (54.5) and touchdowns (four) last season.

But of USC’s new receivers, Williams might be the most electric addition. A top-50 prospect in the 2021 class, Williams immediately established himself in Riley’s offense as a freshman at Oklahoma. He scored touchdowns in each of his first two games — and finished with four total — while tying for second on the team in catches (35).

His debut season was enough to make him one of the most coveted targets in the portal. But he wasn’t there long. Less than two weeks after declaring his intent to transfer, Williams made it official that he would reunite with Riley at USC.

The burning question now is whether their quarterback with the Sooners will join them.

A week after visiting Los Angeles and stirring USC fans into a frenzy, Caleb Williams continues to mull over his next move. USC remains the favorite to secure the top transfer quarterback in college football, but Williams has been in no hurry to make that decision.

In the meantime, the Trojans lost the quarterback who less than two months ago looked like the future of USC football. Jaxson Dart is expected to announce his destination soon, after visiting Oklahoma and Mississippi with fellow former Trojan Michael Trigg.

A decision is expected from both quarterbacks soon. If Williams intends on taking part in spring practice at USC, he has to enroll as a full-time student before Jan. 28, the university’s deadline for the spring semester.

latimes.com

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Petero
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January 20, 2022 1:00 pm

“USC picks up Stanford transfer running back Austin Jones out of the NCAA Transfer Portal” Very ‘intelligent decision’ on Austin’s part.

TrojanRJJ
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January 20, 2022 9:55 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Allen, Colin nailed it. What has astounded me is the failure of the national sports media to first grasp the damage Clay was allowed to inflict on the program and then to accurately report the consequences of the Cat’s incompetence.

volunteerTrojan
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January 20, 2022 10:50 am
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Really makes me wonder how The Cat’s interview went with GA So…”So, Clay, how is it that you couldn’t win at one of the greatest fb programs in one of the greatest cities having one of the greatest stadiums and one of the greatest recruiting fields?”

Clay: “Um…well…uh…I’ll have to review the tape and get back to you, but rest assured, we had warriors that were the love of my life.”

Good luck, pride of Statesboro, you’re going to need it.

Golden Trojan
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January 20, 2022 9:27 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Tyler Steen, 4 star OT from Vanderbuilt is still in the portal, so is Brey Walker 3 star OT from Oklahoma.

Petero
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January 20, 2022 10:48 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

There’s no question the need to elevate the OL to playoff caliber. With skill players we become the headline on offense. My biggest concern is D. Our front 7 is so thin, and seems further behind OL. Currently we are not more than a 8 win team by any means

Petero
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January 20, 2022 12:10 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Yes! Believe most Trojans leaving clearly are not in plans for next year.
Coach Riley could sway most to stay if indeed he saw them as future. To say from the go that 35 spots could change he saw the rehab need clearly

Petero
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January 20, 2022 12:56 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

How refreshing it is to trust again in the leadership and course of our beloved USC Trojans. As Coach Riley said “Every day is signing day” “And that’s a bingo”- Hollywood

Petero
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January 20, 2022 1:36 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I will be delighted to see Caleb, IF he becomes a Trojan. HOWEVER more and more as weapons are added, I can clearly see Miller Moss directing a very high powered offence next year to success. Clearly we have OL issues, esp tackle, however we do have vet. leadership. Again lets see the D front 7 come to USC. Cool we have a few month’s left to get it done in portal.

Golden Trojan
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January 20, 2022 7:53 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

That makes 8 transfers for LR. The theory that a team was limited to 7 transfers is wrong. Riley now has 14 scholarships available and they could all come from the portal if he wants.

alfa1
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January 20, 2022 5:05 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Seems as though CFB is taking on the “One and Done” approach.
Its a new trend, it won’t survive…. Or will CFB.

Golden Trojan
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January 20, 2022 7:47 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

247 Sports now reports OU CB Latrell McCutchin has transferred to USC as well. That is 8 transfers.

alfa1
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January 20, 2022 8:39 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Keep loving him, he’ll correct the mess he took on, the problem we are facing has been so ingrained in our thinking, we irresponsibly expect an immediate fix, reality, as hard as it is to swallow, simply doesn’t work that way.

We have to be patient and allow Riley to observe and evaluate ALL the areas that need correcting…
He will right the Ship! of that I’m confident.

TrojanRJJ
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January 20, 2022 9:50 am
Reply to  alfa1

Alfa, Amen to that! It is difficult to grasp just what a mess six years of The Cat had left. On the talent level, LR said he must replace 3 deep on O and D. On the culture level, he must totally replace what was here. I doubt that can be done in one year. But may I be surprised

San Diego Trojan
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January 19, 2022 8:39 pm

I’m already tired of the Caleb and his dad Dog and Pony show. I know he’s put himself in a position to shop himself to the highest bidder in the name of being NFL ready. But if this is the future of the portal and NIL, it’s a big turnoff. Right now, I would take Dart and Trigg back in a heartbeat, and let this guy alienate teammates somewhere else. He and his dad are waiting for a good enough excuse to go somewhere else, if anything to prove he doesn’t need Riley to succeed, then we’ll be left at… Read more »

alfa1
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January 20, 2022 5:48 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Hey Allen, you go ahead and get used to it !
I and I’m sure others are going to remain skeptical and watch how this trend will effect CFB. I feel it will get corrected…soon.

RialtoTrojan
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January 19, 2022 9:51 pm

I kind of agree San Diego, he’s playing a long game. And if it’s NFL exposure he’s looking for, how many cities have a new stadium used by two pro football teams? I wonder if he thinks he’s better than he is. Or possibly waiting for Dart to commit. It’s simple does he wanna play here or not?

alfa1
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January 20, 2022 5:38 am
Reply to  RialtoTrojan

let me take your premise a little further, there was four QB’s in the CFC games, none were Caleb, there was two QB’s in the Championship game, none were Caleb, Bryce Young was rated higher than Caleb during the season. There was two QB’s in the B12 Championship, none were Caleb. Riley’s name and association has elevated Williams status, Period. Then of course the media pundits blovate and fall all over themselves to pander to this young man. His father is a clever manipulator and opportunistic soul, Caleb is along for the ride and enjoys basking in his temporary glory…no… Read more »

alfa1
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January 20, 2022 5:14 am

SDT,
A 100👍

Chris
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January 20, 2022 7:30 am

Every single kid on the team has gone through the exact same process when they were being recruited. They all talked to multiple schools, had multiple visits (official and otherwise), narrowed choices down, etc. Caleb Williams just happens to be one of the best, if not the best, players in the country. He gets the most attention.

alfa1
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January 20, 2022 8:44 am
Reply to  Chris

Yes they did, but not to the Diva level…
Best players in the COUNTRY… aren’t you being a little too ebullient in your praise ?

Chris
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January 20, 2022 9:56 am
Reply to  alfa1

I don’t think so. He’s really, really good. Certainly better than any we have had in a long time.

alfa1
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January 20, 2022 11:28 am
Reply to  Chris

Okay Chris, I’ll give you that…but in the whole country, come on.

alfa1
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January 19, 2022 4:53 pm

From Brad Crawford 247 Sports Former Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams, the top-ranked player in the NCAA Transfer Portal, is weighing his options ahead of the 2022 season and the timetable for his decision is fluid, according to an update Wednesday from ESPN’s Pete Thamel. Williams took over the starting quarterback role for former Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler in October last season and finished with 21 touchdown passes over eight games. “This is all nebulous, the Williams’ first (recruiting) process when Caleb was in high school took a year and a half,” Thamel said. “Carl (Williams) said we’ve got to do it now in… Read more »

HOF19
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January 19, 2022 4:27 pm

I want Caleb Williams to USC …….But my own particular idol/FAVORITE SC Player of all time ………Marcus Allen …… has been known to have a point of view ( which I love by the way ) …….No one player is bigger than the Football Progam itself……I mean I am starting to wonder is this announcement getting just a bit overdone …..I mean will CNN have to break into its live show and “STOP THE PRESSES” because Mr. Williams is making his announcement ?????

ATL D.D.S.
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January 20, 2022 9:59 am
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Side bar–I ran into a guy in the TSA Pre-check Clear line at Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta one week ago. I sidled up to him and said quietly, “you look a lot like Marcus Allen.” In sotto voce, he said to me, “that’s because I am.” We ended up talking for a few minutes while we went through the line. As expected, a very nice guy. He looks great–he could suit up for the Rams tomorrow. He actually lives in the ATL suburbs now. Crazy Cali finally got to him with all of the restrictions, mask nonsense. He is maybe… Read more »

HOF19
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January 20, 2022 10:12 am
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

Color me envious !

Chris
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January 20, 2022 10:30 am
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

Nice! My first NFL football game in person was Marcus running all over the Steelers in playoffs. I was 8 years old. Great memory, great player.

Golden Trojan
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January 19, 2022 3:29 pm

247 Sports still has Caleb Williams 100% going to USC. The only other QBs in the Portal not committed or enrolled are J Dart and Chayden Peery of GT.

Golden Trojan
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January 19, 2022 4:37 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

And JT Daniels. There are others that don’t seem to be of much note.

alfa1
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January 19, 2022 4:57 pm
Reply to  Golden Trojan

Daniels is damaged goods… lost the starting spot twice at two different schools….He’s Not the answer for USC, that ship has sailed.

Golden Trojan
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January 19, 2022 5:25 pm
Reply to  alfa1

Just throwing out who’s in the portal. Options aren’t good beyond Caleb Williams or bring back J Dart.

ATL D.D.S.
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January 19, 2022 1:57 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

They always play Tusk when it is an important occasion!😎

alfa1
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January 19, 2022 11:59 am

ESPN analyst Pete Thamel was on SportsCenter today and discussed Caleb Williams. “So far, he’s visited USC and UCLA but he’s been on Zooms with a dozen other schools,” Thamel said. “The family is weighing their options and Carl Williams, his dad, told me last night NFL, not NIL, is the guiding light of what the family is doing . . . they want to go to the place where he’s best prepared to go to the NFL and ultimately be the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL draft.” You can argue Lincoln Riley has a good track record with the NFL. You can also… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
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January 19, 2022 12:23 pm
Reply to  alfa1

Alfa, The window is 2 years. In that time, SC is a great choice for Caleb. The OL might not be the best, but it will be competently coached and the opposition he will be facing will not require a great OL for him to shine. He does need outstanding WRs and those SC now has in numbers. My guess is the OL is going to be hugely improved this year. And, the play calling is going to improve hugely.

alfa1
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January 19, 2022 12:51 pm
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

RJJ….Whoa !
I didn’t post this as some negative position of mine, I’m neutral in his coming. You’re selling the benefits of SC to the choir.
it’s just a heads up to how diligent the Father and son are doing their Due Diligence. I have no idea where he’s going, but it’s obvious he’s shopping.

ATL D.D.S.
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January 19, 2022 2:00 pm
Reply to  alfa1

Yeah, Alfa, but you made me nervous. Miller Moss as our 2022 starter excites me not….

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January 19, 2022 2:46 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I must admit I am a bit nervous Caleb hasn’t said he is coming to SC. It will be a blow if he doesn’t. But Caleb or no Caleb SC is in a dramatically better place today than they were 2 ninths ago. I think the euphoria that SC fans felt when LR signed on masks the gargantuan rebuilding job that he inherited. Caleb Wilson will make it easier, but his absence is in no way a death blow.

alfa1
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January 19, 2022 4:21 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

It will all be forgotten and forgiven soon as he starts winning games. From the Delusional Fanboys and media.
Remember, right now its >1000% better than it was.

alfa1
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January 19, 2022 4:17 pm
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

I only posted what’s out there, Pete Thames makes all of us nervous in his current comments relating to Mr. “I am a Business” Williams….that’s a very haughty statement from a 19-20 year old. Wonder if he’s following the script from Daddy!

alfa1
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January 19, 2022 5:08 pm
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

Sorry for that. But, it is what it is, until it isn’t.
Cheers

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January 20, 2022 11:05 am
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

The USC offensive line is a huge talking point on many college football sites and in the negative recruiting tactics of opposing coaches when discussing Caleb Williams. The reality is that the USC OL in 2021 by almost every measure matched up with or was better than Oklahoma’s OL. 6 players with starting experience return this season with Andrew Voorhees and Brent Neilon on some All American watchlists. Adding a monster like Bobby Haskins only makes the OL better as does the current experience of some of the younger guys. The OL will not be a weakness in 2022.

Last edited 8 months ago by TMC4USC
Jamaica
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January 19, 2022 12:50 pm
Reply to  alfa1

The condition of the OL seems to matter like a bully when you have a top rated QB, whose ultimate destination is the NFL and the last thing wanted is to worry about the blocking going on up front while you are searching for that open receiver. USC doesn’t have a good track record of protecting QBs these past 5-yrs and will the appearance of LR change that thinking overnight? Just how much can LR & his staff turn the OL around to where it no longer is considered a concern in the eyes of the Williams family?

alfa1
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January 19, 2022 12:59 pm
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Jamaica I understand his concerns….however, if you do what I recently did, go to Utube and search the OU game highlights I searched 7 random games and closely watch the OU O LINE you will see why Williams had to scramble so many times in ‘21 especially in the Baylor and OSU games. He’s jumping ship from OU for a reason and I don’t believe it has anything to do with Riley !

ATL D.D.S.
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January 19, 2022 1:58 pm
Reply to  alfa1

Oh crap. Nervous, I am getting!

alfa1
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January 19, 2022 4:23 pm
Reply to  ATL D.D.S.

Take a deep breath 😮‍💨

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January 19, 2022 4:58 pm
Reply to  alfa1

I keep asking myself where would he go to get prepared for the nfl better than LR and USC. The blocking will be there, it improved last season. Some new bodies are coming in. I am 100% confident Williams will enroll at USC, nothing has made me waver from that. I do see his dad could be a pain in the ass but that is why LR makes the big money.

alfa1
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January 19, 2022 5:04 pm
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John,
With Steveg’ bold statement you should open a Odds thread on your Sports Betting side. ✅

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January 19, 2022 5:42 pm
Reply to  alfa1

QBs going number 1 in the draft get a big bucks first contract but having a long career in the NFL is a crap shoot. There have been some gems but also some busts. Many are injured early in their careers by going to bad teams.

alfa1
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January 19, 2022 6:23 pm
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Some one drafted first round, first 5-7 spots usually go to a bottom feeder NFL TEAM lacking more than just a QB.