After a disappointing football season in which USC missed a bowl game, contemplated firing head coach Clay Helton, and retained new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury for all of a month, Trojan football finally appears to be getting back on track.
Multiple sources are confirming that USC will welcome former 5-star recruit wide receiver Bru McCoy and 4-star cornerback Chris Steele this coming fall. The team hopes to right the ship for a Trojan recruiting class that finished outside the top ten for only the fourth time in 20 years.
News of McCoy’s decision to transfer arrived in late May. A product of Mater Dei High School, McCoy first committed to the Trojans in January but left to play for the Texas Longhorns after short-lived USC offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury was hired by the Arizona Cardinals.
After standing out in Longhorns’ spring camp, McCoy returned home for his high school graduation and tweeted about his intention to leave Texas.
“After a lot of thinking and talking with my family, I’ve decided to leave UT and return home,” McCoy wrote on May 31.
Days later, a source close to McCoy’s family told the Los Angeles Times that McCoy intended to transfer back to USC because of a case of homesickness during his spring semester at Texas.
On June 5, McCoy retweeted an image posted by incoming freshman wide receiver Kyle Ford of the two wearing USC football uniforms, further proving his recruitment to the Trojan roster.
On the heels of McCoy’s announcement, the Los Angeles Times reported that Chris Steele intended to back out of his commitment to the Oregon Ducks and that Steele’s father had indicated that his son would be enrolling at USC.
“It’s looking like that’s going to happen,” Norman Steele told the Times last week. “I don’t see anything else happening.”
This announcement comes after a long recruiting saga for Steele, who first committed to the Trojans in July 2018. He backed out months later and then signed a letter of intent with the Florida Gators.
Steele participated in spring practice and took classes in Gainesville before announcing that he would enter the NCAA transfer portal on May 9. Days later, he signed with the Oregon Ducks.
Steele’s father has indicated that Steele’s commitment to Oregon was largely due to USC’s lack of scholarship spots at the time. Now that space has become available, it appears Steele, who attended high school only 30 minutes away from USC, will be returning home to wear cardinal and gold.
The likely additions of both McCoy and Steele represent major boosts for the Trojans heading into summer camp. McCoy is viewed by many as a generational talent. He was the No. 1 athlete and No. 9 overall prospect, per 247Sports’ 2019 composite rankings. The pass-catcher boasts an imposing 6-foot-2-inch, 205-pound frame and wowed during practices in Austin with his speed and physicality.
On the other side of the ball, Steele could reinforce a defensive backfield in need of depth following the departure of three defensive backs to the NFL.
Steele’s combination of ball skills and speed could provide the Trojans with welcomed support and fill some of the void left by the departure of former USC starting cornerbacks Iman Marshall and Isaiah Langley.
Although McCoy and Steele’s decisions have garnered the most attention, redshirt junior wide receiver Velus Jones Jr.’s decision not to leave the program may prove to be the most impactful for the Trojans heading into the upcoming season.
Jones entered his name into the NCAA transfer portal in March and reportedly considered following former USC offensive coordinator Tee Martin to Tennessee. On June 3, however, Jones announced his intention to remain a Trojan.
The NCAA requires transfers to sit for a year before they can become eligible. Though both McCoy and Steele have appealed this, their eligibility in 2019 remains up in the air.
Jones, however, is a sure bet to contribute to the Trojans’ 2019 campaign. He saw significant time as both a receiver and a kick returner in 2018 and appeared in all 12 games. Over the season, Jones had 24 receptions for 266 yards and one touchdown over 21 kickoff returns.
USC already appears to be set at the wide receiver position with returning starters Michael Pittman Jr., Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown. Last season the trio racked up 159 receptions for 2,182 yards and 15 touchdowns. Jones can be utilized in the slot, given what appears to be an embarrassment of riches at the receiver position for USC.
As the Trojans transition to new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell’s “air raid” offense, Jones’ return coupled with McCoy’s arrival may underpin what may be one of college football’s deepest position groups heading into the 2019 season.