USC, Lincoln Riley blitz transfer portal

(News4usonline) – In late November, the college football world was taken by storm with the announcement that Lincoln Riley would be the next head coach at the University of Southern California. Regarded as an excellent recruiter, Riley has already made an impact in terms of gathering talent.

“I’m just trying to build the best roster that we can at USC,” remarked during a press conference on national signing day. “With the transfer portal right now and the fact that there are no guardrails, players can leave you virtually 365 yards a year if they choose. And that’s just part of how it is right now.”

Prior to the NCAA changing the rule that required transfer players to sit out a year, USC would have had to wait several years in order to reap the benefits of Riley’s recruiting. The expectations for USC’s football program next season have greatly improved due to the new transfer portal rules, allowing each athlete to transfer one time without having to sit out a season.

Riley took over the Oklahoma football program in 2017 as the head coach. It was a good match for the Sooners football program. Riley went 55-10 record in five seasons for the Sooners. When the Trojans began their search for their next head coach, Riley and his accomplishments at Oklahoma was targeted.

USC head football coach Lincoln Riley at a press conference in Heritage Hall on Feb. 2, 2022. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

The Trojans appear to be in good hands no that Riley is on board as their leader. Riley has yet to win a national championship, but he coached the Sooners to three consecutive College Football Playoff appearances and is the only coach ever to produce back-to-back Heisman trophy winners (Kyler Murray and Baker Mayfield).

Riley’s presence will help lure some of the nation’s top-ranked players to Los Angeles. Known for running a high-powered offense, it is no surprise that highly touted players have already jumped on board.

The success of his past teams makes it easy for players to put their trust in the system. Riley has turned primarily to the transfer portal to build his team since signing on. Without having time to recruit players out of high school to play at USC, he and his staff saw this as the best option considering the amount of time they had.

“You grow up being used to recruiting players for one year or two years and then all of a sudden these things are happening in a matter of days or even weeks,” Riley said on national signing day when discussing the transfer portal and how he built this class.

Quarterback Caleb Williams is one of 13 transfer players that committed to the Trojans on national signing day. That was not really all that surprising. The five-star high school prospect played under Riley at Oklahoma, taking over as the starter midway through last season.

The true freshman was impressive and will enter the 2022 college football season as one of the favorites to win the Heisman.

Williams is one of many gifted players that will grace USC with their talents during Lincoln Riley’s tenure. Williams’ decision to follow his coach to a new destination is made possible by the new transfer portal rules.

USC football coach Lincoln Riley talks about using the NCAA transfer portal to build the Trojans program. Photo by Dennis J. Freeman/News4usonline

In years past, Williams likely would have stayed put. He would play out another season or two at Oklahoma and then declare for the NFL draft. Transferring would be a massive gamble for Williams, considering how well he performed last season, and being faced with the reality of sitting for a year is no easy pill to swallow for a talented player.

“The portal has been an advantage for us, there is really no other way to say it. When you are trying to revamp a roster… that has been extremely valuable,” said Riley.

Before the rule change was implemented in April 2021, the transfer portal was primarily used for only a couple of reasons. Most collegiate athletes would only hit the portal if they were not getting playing time or they were outplaying their competition.

Players not getting the playing time that they expected might transfer to a school that will give them more opportunities. On the flip side, players that are dominating at smaller schools might transfer to a bigger program in order to get more looks.

The transfer portal can now be utilized in different ways. Without having to sit out valuable time, players have more freedom to make the best decision for themselves. It is going to be interesting to see how much it will change the landscape of college sports.

It is no surprise that Riley is taking full advantage of the changes, as he makes his best effort to put together a winning team next season.

“It has been unique. Building it this way with the transfer portal obviously being in some ways the focus point of this class in terms of the number of players we have brought in,” said Riley.

Riley will look to turn around the culture at USC in the coming years. He will be given time to flourish but in terms of recruiting, he is already off to a good start. Now he just has to prove it on the field as he will look to put the Trojans back in championship contention.

Benjamin Verbrugge

Benjamin Verbrugge is a student at CSU Dominguez Hill studying journalism. "Sports have brought me much joy throughout my life, and I want to be able to give a little back to something that has meant so much to me. I grew up in Los Angeles primarily following the Lakers and Dodgers, but I am also an avid fan of sporting events, news, and stories in general."