Antonio Morales (The Athletic) — LOS ANGELES — We’re about two weeks from USC stepping onto Howard Jones Field to open training camp, and it’s been an eventful offseason for the roster. The Trojans have signed players who have transferred to other schools only to return, and gained players who were committed to them for months but signed elsewhere.
USC has had players enter the transfer portal, with some leaving for good and some coming back. So as the preseason approaches, it’s time to check in on where things actually stand with the roster and the scholarship count.
By The Athletic’s unofficial count, USC will have 82 scholarship players on its roster this season, barring anything unexpected. With a recent entry in the transfer portal, it could have 83 scholarships counted toward its allotment of 85 this season.
JT Daniels (sophomore)
Jack Sears (redshirt sophomore)
Matt Fink (redshirt junior)
Kedon Slovis (freshman)
2020 commits: four-star Bryce Young
Notes: This position room will get pretty crowded when Young, who intends to enroll early, arrives in January. But for now, there are four scholarship quarterbacks, which seems like a bit of an upset.
Fink, who was the backup for most of last season and has spent more time in the program than any other QB, entered the transfer portal back in April. The redshirt junior, who denied rumors of a transfer to Illinois, left the portal and returned to USC in early June, which should give the Trojans some good numbers at the position.
Remember that this group was down to one scholarship player against Arizona State last season, but only one guy can play. Daniels is a sophomore and the assumption is that Young will be the future of the position, so it’ll be worth monitoring how attrition alters this foursome over time.
Running backs (four)
Stephen Carr (junior)
Vavae Malepeai (redshirt junior)
Markese Stepp (redshirt freshman)
Kenan Christon (freshman)
2020 commits: None
Notes: The Trojans’ depth here isn’t great, which should be a bit of a concern considering the injuries that Carr has dealt with in each of his first two seasons.
USC has no commitments at the position but needs to add someone to improve its long-term outlook. Carr and Malepeai both have two years left at most. The Trojans made a push for five-star 2020 running back prospect Bijan Robinson (Arizona), who is set to announce his commitment on Aug. 2. But reports indicate Robinson has eliminated USC from contention and will choose between Ohio State or Texas.
Five-star in-state prospect Kendall Milton didn’t list USC among his initial list of finalists, either.
Michael Pittman Jr. (senior)
Tyler Vaughns (redshirt junior)
Velus Jones (redshirt junior)
Amon-Ra St. Brown (sophomore)
Devon Williams (sophomore)
John Jackson III (freshman)
Kyle Ford (freshman)
Bru McCoy (freshman)
Drake London (freshman)
Munir McClain (freshman)
2020 commits: four-star Joshua Jackson
Notes: If you’re looking for a position where the Trojans are set up great for the short and long term, this is it.
Pittman, who will represent the program at next week’s Pac-12 media day, will be gone after this year, and there’s the potential Vaughns will depart, too. But St. Brown, Williams, Ford and McCoy will headline this group in future seasons. If that group lives up to their blue-chip potential, then the Trojans should have one of the better receiving units in the country for the foreseeable future.
Tight ends (five)
Josh Falo (junior)
Erik Krommenhoek (junior)
Daniel Imatorbhebhe (redshirt senior)
Jude Wolfe (freshman)
Ethan Rae (freshman)
2020 commits: three-star Jack Yary
Notes: Wolfe and Rae add much-needed depth to this position and should be the future once Falo and Krommenhoek exhaust their eligibility over the next two years.
Imatorbhebhe remains something of a mystery. He last played against Ohio State in the Cotton Bowl loss that capped the Trojans’ 2017 season, but he didn’t play a single snap last season and it’s unclear if he will this season. Imatorbhebhe’s brother, Josh, transferred from the program earlier this year and committed to Illinois.
Offensive linemen (15)
Clayton Bradley (redshirt senior)
Drew Richmond (senior)
Jacob Daniel (redshirt senior)
Austin Jackson (junior)
Andrew Vorhees (junior)
Frank Martin II (redshirt junior)
Bernard Schirmer (redshirt junior)
Liam Jimmons (redshirt junior)
Jalen McKenzie (redshirt sophomore)
Alijah Vera-Tucker (redshirt sophomore)
Brett Neilon (redshirt sophomore)
Liam Douglass (redshirt freshman)
Justin Dedich (redshirt freshman)
Jason Rodriguez (freshman)
Gino Quinones (freshman)
2020 commits: three-star Joey Wright, three-star Andres Dewerk, three-star Andrew Milek
Notes: Richmond is an intriguing addition. He was a former starter at Tennessee but didn’t live up to his recruiting buzz as the No. 3 offensive tackle prospect in the class of 2015. Still, he has the potential to push for the starting job at right tackle, which will likely be decided between him and McKenzie.
The Athletic can confirm Tilini Livai, a three-star prospect who signed with the Trojans in December, won’t be a member of the program. Livai spent his senior season at Narbonne High School (Harbor City, Calif.) but moved back to his native Hawaii to finish school. There had been some speculation he could possibly be an academic casualty.
Defensive linemen (12)
Christian Rector (redshirt senior)
Connor Murphy (redshirt junior)
Caleb Tremblay (redshirt junior)
Brandon Pili (junior)
Jacob Lichtenstein (redshirt sophomore)
Jay Tufele (redshirt sophomore)
Marlon Tuipulotu (redshirt sophomore)
Nick Figueroa (redshirt sophomore)
Trevor Trout (redshirt freshman)
Drake Jackson (freshman)
Stanley Ta’ufo’ou (freshman)
Dejon Benton (freshman)
2020 commits: three-star Kobe Pepe, three-star Kyle Juergens
Notes: USC has built its depth here pretty well—now it’s about the continued development of players like Tufele and Tuipulotu in order for this unit to live up to its potential. Jackson looked like a star in the making during spring practice.
The only player the Trojans are expected to lose from this group after the season is Rector, who is probably the best pass rusher they have.
John Houston Jr. (redshirt senior)
Jordan Iosefa (senior)
Palaie Gaoteote IV (sophomore)
Juliano Falaniko (redshirt sophomore)
Hunter Echols (redshirt sophomore)
Abdul-Malik McClain (redshirt freshman)
Kana’i Mauga (sophomore)
Eli’jah Winston (redshirt freshman)
Solomon Tuliaupupu (redshirt freshman)
Maninoa Tufono (freshman)
Ralen Goforth (freshman)
Tuasivi Nomura (freshman)
2020 commits: None
Notes: The Trojans lost Cam Smith and Porter Gustin from this group last season and will lose John Houston Jr. and Jordan Iosefa once this season ends, so a transition period is ahead.
Gaoteote is the star of the group, and if he plays up to his talent level, he could end up leaving campus after his junior season. That’s still a long way off, but it’s a possibility the Trojans should account for.
Defensive backs (16)
Dominic Davis (redshirt senior)
C.J. Pollard (redshirt junior)
Greg Johnson (redshirt sophomore)
Isaiah Pola-Mao (redshirt sophomore)
Talanoa Hufanga (sophomore)
Olaijah Griffin (sophomore)
Raymond Scott (sophomore)
Chase Williams (redshirt freshman)
Isaac Taylor-Stuart (redshirt freshman)
Max Williams (freshman)
Briton Allen (freshman)
Chris Steele (freshman)
Adonis Otey (freshman)
Jayden Williams (freshman)
Dorian Hewett (freshman)
Kaulana Makaula (freshman)
Notes: This group received a boost with the addition of Chris Steele in June. He and Max Williams were both four-star corners in the latest recruiting cycle. Of course, Steele’s eligibility for the upcoming season is up in the air after he transferred from Florida.
The group was supposed to have two more players but 2019 junior college signee Jaylen Watson couldn’t enroll for academic reasons, and three-star signee Trey Davis just entered the transfer portal last week.
Davis’ scholarship could count toward the Trojans’ total of 85 this fall, but that remains unclear at the moment.
Chase McGrath (redshirt sophomore)
Damon Johnson (redshirt junior)
Ben Griffiths (redshirt freshman)
Michael Brown (redshirt junior)
2020 commits: Parker Lewis
Notes: USC is set at kicker for the next two years at least with McGrath and Brown, and with Johnson at snapper.
Griffiths is the only punter on the roster and had an impressive spring.