USC Football was nearly there last season.

In Lincoln Riley’s first season with the squad, they earned an 11-3 record and an 8-1 showing against conference opponents. The Trojans were up by 15 points against the Tulane Green Wave before falling in a 46-45 loss in the Cotton Bowl.

USC head football coach Lincoln Riley had his eyes set on the team’s defense, which ranked seventh in the Pac 12 in total yards allowed per game with 415.1 and in rushing yards allowed per game with 148.6.

“We expect to be an extremely high-level defense here at USC,” Riley said. “No reason in the world why we can’t and why we won’t be.

“And we expect that that will happen and happen soon.”

In what could be another eventful season for the Trojans, who will be some of the biggest names to watch during spring practice? And who will prevail at some of the team’s most heavily-contested positions?


USC football improved its team’s defensive ability with a trio of transfers from across its conference.

Senior Christian Roland-Wallace has the opportunity to take the starting left cornerback spot for USC in 2023 after four successful seasons with the University of Arizona. Roland-Wallace racked up 57 total tackles in the 2022 season, putting him in fourth place on a Wildcats roster that went 5-7 in head coach Jedd Fisch’s second season with the team.

Junior Jacobe Covington, a transfer from the University of Washington, also has a chance at taking a starting spot for the Trojans next season. The 6-foot-2-inch wide receiver made the 2019 MaxPreps All-Arizona first team and Tacoma News-Tribune Western 100 after a stellar senior season at Saguaro high school in Scottsdale, Arizona, according to the team’s website.

Though sophomores Ceyair Wright and Domani Jackson may not take the starting spot just yet, they may be close to the two transfers.

Latrell McCutchin has the opportunity to take the starting spot as the nickel cornerback after he made contributions in all 14 games for USC football last season. The former Oklahoma transfer earned 22 tackles, one quarterback hurry, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 2022.


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Will the Trojans have a last line of defense against big plays?

Junior Calen Bullock may be ready to take the starting strong safety spot after he took all 14 starts and was named a First Team All-American in 2022.

Some added muscle this offseason and a focus on his natural position of strong safety has helped Bullock develop into one of USC football’s most reliable defenders, wrote Orange County Register sporter reporter Adam Grosbard.

“He’s one of those guys where his best football is in front of him,” Grinch said. “We have to make sure we put him in position to be a playmaker for us. I think we’ve found that for him.”

Freshman Zion Branch and sophomore Anthony Beavers Jr. may be behind him.

Senior Bryson Shaw, a former transfer from Ohio State, may have to share reps with senior Max Williams at the free safety.

Offensive tackles

While the skill positions get most of the glory in the Air raid offense of Riley beyond, protecting the quarterback and holding off a pass rush is more than key for a successful USC football offense.

Senior Jarrett Kingston and junior Courtland Ford look to take the starting left tackle spot. Kingston, a transfer from Washington State, suffered a season-ending injury in WSU’s 52-14 win over Stanford in early November.

“The biggest thing I want to say about Jarrett is he’s been a warrior,” Washington State coach Jake Dickert said, via the Seattle Times. “I’m disappointed for him because he has worked so hard to get to this point. I firmly believe Kingston is an all-conference offensive lineman. I think he has put it on tape.”

Junior Michael Tarquin, a transfer from the University of Florida, may be the starting right tackle. He started at right tackle in nine games for the Gators last season, becoming one of four starting offensive linemen to transfer from the program.

Sophomore Mason Murphy, who played in 14 games for USC in 2022, will likely take the spot behind him.

USC’s spring football game will kick off on April 15 at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, according to BetMGM. No time or broadcast information is available.