LOS ANGELES – When Lincoln Riley unveiled the first seven members of the 2022 USC subscriber class on Friday, he admitted that this is not a large number of new Trojans.
The new head coach, wearing a bright red USC jersey, was proud of the group he was announcing. Two promising blue-chip Mater Dei players, two tough defenders from the powerful Nevada center, two stealthy guys who fit into the new defense, and a player who must put USC in position for the foreseeable future.
The group is respectable, but not yet formed.
“It’s tempting to come here today and include 20 names on this list,” Riley admitted. “But we know that at the end of the day, this is not how to build a championship squad. It’s about the correct names. “
It’s part of a patience strategy for Riley, who spoke to the media on Friday for the first time since his opening press conference two and a half weeks ago.
Riley inherited a team that went 4-8 last season. But he actually inherited half of that team, as he said on Friday that he expects to transfer at least 35 seats in the squad, or about half the travel costs for the program. It was a major overhaul that continued on Friday when Greg Johnson announced his intention to retire to the NFL.
As such, Riley is reluctant to rush into any part of the process that he expects to continue beyond the second signing period in February and possibly until August, just as USC is heading to training camp.
So this means that in addition to more recruits in high school, there could be an influx of transfers in February between this and next seasons, and Riley said he’s ready to add veterans to any group of positions at this time.
“We’re open to business on all counts,” Riley said. “This expansion is going to be a process and we’re going to be patient.”
So for the past three weeks, Riley hasn’t wanted to waste precious time flying across the country to meet recruits who aren’t likely to change their minds in this three-week period, and didn’t want to rush to take on the commitments of someone he and his staff. were unfamiliar.
Instead, they focused on adding leads they already knew, like Mater Dei, running back Ralik Brown and Bishop Gorman, safe Zion Branch, or keeping recruits from the previous coaching staff.
One of them was five-star quarterback Mater Dei Domani Jackson, who announced his return to USC on Friday after backing off his initial promise during a coaching search at the school.
The signing of Jackson, the best rookie in the state in the 2022 class, was a big step for Riley as he ramps up his local base after hiring California as Oklahoma’s head coach for several years.
“I always remember the feeling that not only in this state, but also in this part of the country, when SC was good, it was difficult to beat them. And when SC wasn’t good, you might have had the chance to sign kids who, deep down, really wanted to go to SC, Riley said. “USC has to give them a reason to want to see it through. This is our job. “
But as Riley reminded everyone on Friday, this is a job that can take a little time to complete.