RB Raleek Brown making early impressions at USC camp
Brown, the first commit of the Lincoln Riley era, is already expected to be a Swiss Army knife for the Trojans this season…
Adam Grosbard (OC Register) — LOS ANGELES — Friday may not have been the first day of classes, but it had that type of vibe as USC football opened its first training camp of the Lincoln Riley era.
“Didn’t sleep very good last night,” Riley said as his team walked off the field. “You’re just kinda excited and ready for this day to go.”
It’s a very different group of Trojans from this time last year. USC lost 54 players from the 2021 roster and returns only nine starters while adding 10 high school and junior college prospects and 20 transfers to the locker room. Several of these new faces made their debuts in spring camp, but others were taking part in their first practice on Friday.
Among the newcomers was running back Raleek Brown, the No. 2 prospect in the state of California in the 2022 class according to 247Sports.com.
After missing out on spring practices while finishing up high school, Brown was hard to miss in his first day in cardinal and gold, even standing at 5-foot-8.
“His speed on the field is noticeable. And he’s on the field with a lot of good athletes,” Riley said. “Day 1 and backs are a little tough sometimes to fully evaluate when they’re not in pads. But I thought he had a good summer with us. Athletically he does some things that are certainly exciting.”
Brown spent the summer working out with the team and getting acclimated to the new locker room. It didn’t take him long to make an impression, even on the upperclassmen lifting weights with him.
“Raleek has been quite the goofball,” sixth-year center Brett Neilon said. “We like to chat it up and I mess with him and he messes with me.”
“Oh man, that kid’s a little jitterbug,” senior running back Travis Dye added. “You know, he’s such a nice guy too. Such a great personality but a crazy athlete, he’s all over the place, can move really fast, can catch, can see the holes. I can’t wait to see him in pads.”
Once he does get in pads, Riley cautioned, there will be a transition period. Having missed spring, Brown has to learn the offense and his role within it, as well as work on details like ball security and pass protection.
How he will be utilized is a closely-guarded secret, but his skill set will lend itself to several possibilities.
“Coach [Riley] has a clear vision for him,” running backs coach Kiel McDonald said. “I think you’re going to see him in a number of different places on the field because he’s more of a Swiss Army knife than anything. There’s a lot of things that he brings to the program and we want to make sure he gets a chance to showcase his talent.”
Added Riley, “He’s committed to it and he’s working hard. I’m always pretty slow to anoint freshmen, they got to go prove it on Saturdays but he certainly has a bright future.”
Australian punter Atticus Bertrams won’t be joining USC for the 2022 season, Riley reported, saying that a “circumstance came up that’s going to prevent that.”
This update puts USC in a tenuous situation at punter.
Last year’s starter, Ben Griffiths, is off trying to make it in the pros. The only punters left on the roster are walk-ons Will Rose, Michael McAllister and Garth White. Neither Rose nor McAllister have recorded a punt in their careers. White averaged 37.6 yards per punt at Ventura Junior College last season before transferring to USC over the summer.
Riley said he was happy with how Rose performed during the spring and is comfortable with him as the new punter, but admitted he would like to add another punter to the roster if only for competition and depth.