Top Dog Drake London Is All Football Now

USC’s Drake London missed an elite run in basketball to continue his rise in football

Ryan Kartje (LA Times)  —  As USC charged to the Elite Eight last month, Drake London watched from afar, warding off pangs of nostalgia. He hadn’t played much basketball lately. Not since devoting himself full time to football in December. But now the sophomore wideout and former wing was feeling the weight of that bittersweet breakup with basketball, his first love. It was hard not to wonder what might’ve been.

“There’s a part of me that, I wouldn’t say regrets, but definitely misses it,” London said. “But I think I made the right decision.”

No one is doubting that as spring football settles in at USC. With Amon-ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns off to the NFL, London is now the undisputed leader of USC’s receiving corps, a fact that should’ve been abundantly clear, even before receivers coach Keary Colbert reiterated it multiple times Tuesday.

“He’s had a great two seasons and really excited about his third year and his growth,” Colbert said ahead of USC’s fourth spring practice. “Honestly, this is the first time he’s had a true offseason, strictly football. You can kind of tell. I feel like his body is changing. With continued reps and time, he’s going to continue to dominate at the position and just become a force in college football.”

Even with St. Brown and Vaughns ahead of him in the pecking order, London caught 33 passes for 502 yards and three touchdowns last season, earning a place on the All-Pac-12 second team. In their absence, those opportunities should increase exponentially.

They won’t solely come in the slot, either. After two seasons of lining up primarily on the inside to cater to USC’s other top receivers, London has shifted outside at times during spring practice, “so he can check all the boxes for a complete wide receiver,” Colbert said.

London may still slide back inside this fall, Colbert clarified. But the point is to put USC’s top receiver in the best possible position to make plays and exploit matchups, wherever that may be. And there’s no disputing who the top dog is at this point.

“His first couple years, he played a lot on the inside because of [Michael] Pittman [Jr.] and Amon-ra and Tyler Vaughns,” Colbert said. “That’s just the way it worked out, trying to get our best four on the field, that he was on the inside. And Drake owned it. He was head and shoulders better on the inside. But we’ve talked about it more this season, just wanting to get him experience on the outside as well.

“Honestly, he’s just as good inside or outside. He can do it all.”

Where the rest of USC’s receivers might fit alongside London is uncertain. Redshirt freshman Bru McCoy has been slowed this spring by a nagging hamstring injury, but is expected to slot into the other outside receiver spot. After that, it’s anyone’s guess who will emerge from an especially deep rotation.

K.D. Nixon transferred to USC in the offseason after four years at Colorado, and his experience should help him earn an early role. The 5-foot-8, 190-pound wideout has played at both inside and outside receiver through one week of spring, endearing himself quickly to the rest of USC’s offense.

“Aside from just his playing experience, he brings an energy,” Colbert said. “Everybody loves him on the team and in the room. He’s a vet, man.”

Gary Bryant Jr. doesn’t bring the same experience — he had just seven catches as a freshman last season — but his progress, with a full offseason under his belt, has been encouraging to Colbert.

“He was a great player coming in, but with any freshman, there’s a slight transition from learning the plays to playing fast to having that confidence,” Colbert said. “He knows what he’s doing and what’s expected of him.”

Plenty of question marks remain beyond that. Kyle Ford is still working his way back from a second season-ending knee injury. Munir McClain is still suspended. And Memphis transfer Tahj Washington won’t arrive until the fall, along with first-year wideouts Kyron Ware-Hudson and Joseph Manjack.

One incoming freshman has already turned heads. Michael Jackson III, an early enrollee, was earning early plaudits from USC coaches during winter workouts before he announced his arrival to everyone else with a one-handed, highlight-reel grab in tight coverage last Thursday.

“I’m excited about him and what he brings to the room,” Colbert said of Jackson III. “Honestly, I think he’s had one of the better offseason conditioning programs. Just seeing that kid work, from running and lifting, he’s very serious. He’s doing well for himself, and I think it’s great he’s here early.”

latimes.com

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TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
April 10, 2021 9:51 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Thanks for posting this. Having the worst HC in Power 5 does matter. I agree with the post below that Oregon (not SC) is the most talented team in the Pac. Oregon also has a far superior HC. Clay was given the most talented team in the Pac with the greatest legacy and he managed to drive it into the ground. I think the 2018 Trojans were the most talented team in the Pac, but ended up with a losing record and probably was the worst team in SC history. The coaching staff that pulled that off is now all… Read more »

Jamaica
Knighted Member
Jamaica (@jamaica)
April 10, 2021 10:17 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

You look at the athletic programs that still have its administrations in full support and you wonder why it isn’t here at USC currently. Is it due to the belief major college sports have evolved to where there is no longer a true connection to an education of higher learning in the classroom where a student was given a scholarship due to his ability to catch a football rather than his ability to handle a full load of units? Excellence in the classroom & on the playing field no longer ideologically supported? That supporting a flagship sports program has become… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Jamaica
Jamaica
Knighted Member
Jamaica (@jamaica)
April 10, 2021 8:03 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

😄-funny Allen

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
April 10, 2021 12:41 pm
Reply to  Jamaica

Jamaica, You ask a great question. Alan and I have split on it. There is no question that a large number of very influential academics are very much opposed to the “American culture” in which most of us grew up. They view it oppressive of many groups or people, particularly women who do not want to be stay at home wives and mothers. They like to call themselves “feminists” but I think that is not truly descriptive of them. This group is ideologically opposed to football on the grounds that it extols what they view as “toxic masculinity.” Another very… Read more »

rleeholder1
Noble Member
rleeholder1 (@rleeholder1)
April 11, 2021 8:02 am
Reply to  TrojanRJJ

Very well said TrojanRJJ. Mao Foltie is a real piece of work! The disbanding of the local Alumni Club structure and replacement with a regional model really pisses me off. I now live in Northwest Arizona and the Las Vegas Club was closer than Phoenix. Between the two clubs, there were over 100 members. The Southwest Regional group which now includes Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico has ONLY 11 members and I am one of them. I’ve messaged my displeasure to Folt on Instagram and received no response. I asked her to reconsider the change and go back to the… Read more »

Terrific Tommy
Diamond Member
Terrific Tommy (@terrific-tommy)
April 11, 2021 11:01 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Can you imagine what would happen to alumni donations if that happened? I don’t see it happening at all. On-the-other-hand, the current leadership doesn’t seem to have a clue as to what a full coliseum/winning football program means to the USC bank account either (thus, Clay’s current safety net). When I was an MBA student, I attended a meeting with then Dean Dockson, who at the time told us that nearly 55% of our Alumni live with 250 miles of downtown Los Angeles — and more than 20% of them attended games consistently. With so many competing outdoor things to… Read more »

Jamaica
Knighted Member
Jamaica (@jamaica)
April 11, 2021 10:15 pm
Reply to  Terrific Tommy

The mire thought of an administration toning down the competitive ability of its football program by keeping a Clay Helton as HC and hiring a crew of assistants to do most all his job for him is just window dressing to appease as many of the fanbase as possible but still keep the program just good enough to compete against a down football conference and little else, should be enough to cause an eruption from alumni, big money supporters as well as the fanbase. But beside the fanbase, where is the outcry? With the exception of a Texas businessman supporter… Read more »

Jamaica
Knighted Member
Jamaica (@jamaica)
April 12, 2021 9:29 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I like this article for what it says and it’s all true you must beat the better teams from the other Power 5 conferences to get any respect. Of the five non-conference games mentioned in this coming season, how many of them can the PAC-12 win? I wish I could give Oregon a vote of confidence but at OSU, a very physical buckeye team would have to play pretty poorly. As for USC at Notre Dame, against your archrival and they know you can’t win the big games, you better have a HC that tells his team, you follow my… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Jamaica
rleeholder1
Noble Member
rleeholder1 (@rleeholder1)
April 9, 2021 5:07 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I wish Tahj well in the NBA and thank him for his contribution to one of the best seasons SC Basketball has had in many years. His last-second shot against UCLA will be remembered for a long time. Fight On Tahj!

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
April 10, 2021 9:37 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I also wish Tahj well, but based on the little I saw (understanding even less) it appears at the collegiate level, Tahj was a second tier guard. For example, both UCLA guards appeared to me to be better as were CO guards. He shot against UCLA was one for the ages. Not to take away from his fantastic shot to beat UCLA, the reason his shot counted was two UCLA players missed the front end of a 1-1 and Pearson (the other USC guard who I suspect will return to SC) made two 3s. But, I do not follow the… Read more »

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
April 8, 2021 2:51 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Hope springs eternal! My only silver lining is listening to Harvey Hyde. He doesn’t like Clay or the pass heavy nature of our offense, but even he is saying this spring so far is different. Let’s hope so.

again, I’m an admitted kool aid drinker.

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
April 8, 2021 9:44 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Nothing revolutionary, just more urgency and physical. Also seeing 2 back sets with more straight ahead run blocking. We shall see.

early look seems like Ford will be our left tackle. That’s a big ask for young guy. He got starts at guard last year, but left tackle is whole other animal.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
April 10, 2021 9:44 am
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I still remember our debates on Clancy – we were told repeated by Clay and Clancy that Clancy was going to play more players and simplify his schemes. I argued it was not happening and would never happen. You countered by asking if I was accusing both Clancy and Clay of lying about it. My response was that what we were hearing was rhetoric and nothing would change. We both know how that one turned out. So, what to make of this? I really do not know and simply am now ignoring it as rhetoric. I really doubt that the… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
April 7, 2021 12:38 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Just read a 2014 article on CB measurables by Gil Brandt. He uses three of them. Per Gil, the three most telling are 40 time; then 3 cone, then broad jump. 40 time needs to be 4.4, 3 Cone needs to be 7.1 and broad jump needs to be 10’2′. Adoree’s combine were 40 time of 4.42 and a broad jump of 10’2”. He did not do the cone drill. Brandt said the most important time was the 40, as there are many receivers who go in the 4.2-4.3 range. His point was having a kid who is a mid… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
April 7, 2021 2:13 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

For me, the only player that stood out on D last year was Hufunga. Griffin did not. Good player but far from dominant. Does not have great size or speed. You can be a 5’11” CB, but best have blazing speed and quickness ala Deon. I am far from an expert, but I always thought 4.5 speed and good quickness and football IQ was a safety. My guess is Hufunga is at least as fast and as quick, and he is 35 lbs heavier. 6’1” and 210 with a 4.5 makes for a great safety prospect. 5’11’ and 175 with… Read more »

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
April 7, 2021 5:49 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

I have the same view of Adoree. Good for him. My guess is Griffin does not have the size to play safety in the NFL, so your take of a backup and special teams seems to make sense.

TrojanRJJ
Diamond Member
TrojanRJJ (@trojanrjj)
April 7, 2021 5:52 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

My memory is Grabby was hurt all last year and never played a down.

Chris
Diamond Member
Chris (@chris)
April 7, 2021 1:22 pm
Reply to  Allen Wallace

Lloyd will be a hard get. He’s the successor at Gonzaga and has been pressed many times in the last few years for other openings.

RialtoTrojan
Noble Member
RialtoTrojan (@rialtotrojan)
April 7, 2021 7:37 am

I think London took a calculated risk sticking with football, but it could pay off in the long run. I love seeing him push for extra yards, thus far protecting the ball as he goes. He also has not dropped many catchable passes, so he is an asset to the team. Because Bru McCoy is a stud (when healthy) I see the two receivers bookending the line this year. The only minus to all of this is the lack of mention of any running game. I hope someday we see that USC knows more than one trick on offense.

Steveg
Mt Rushmore
Steveg (@steveg)
April 7, 2021 6:23 am

Still a lot of question marks both on offense and defense. This is the season of hype all about what could be, what may be. Of course these guys are working hard, we hear it every spring. It is nice to hear from a position coach instead of the worn out platitudes from CH which he has run into the dirt. O line? RB? Linebackers? Pass rush? Still a lot of things hanging but glad we have football to talk about now.

rleeholder1
Noble Member
rleeholder1 (@rleeholder1)
April 8, 2021 7:34 am
Reply to  Steveg

I hear you Steveg. So glad we are talking football. I think the passing offense may be a little different with beasts like London and McCoy replacing Vaughns and St. Brown. I see shorter patterns, letting the receivers go for YAC rather than throwing a lot of deep balls. As a former HS QB, that’s what I’d do. Hopefully, we can put some semblance of a running game going to be more balanced on offense. Looking forward to the upcoming season!