Lincoln Riley predicted to boost USC recruiting

Five-star recruit Raleek Brown runs off the field.
Five-star running back Raleek Brown is the No. 2 best running back in the 2022 recruiting class after rushing for over 1000 yards with 12 touchdowns this season. (Photo courtesy of Raleek Brown on Twitter @raleek2)

This week has been one of the most eventful ones in recent USC football history, with former Oklahoma Head Coach Lincoln Riley joining USC and planning to return the football program back to its former glory. Recruiting at a high level again is crucial to accomplish this monumental feat. 

These are some of the most important players that have already switched to USC and others that could potentially suit up in cardinal and gold in the upcoming years. 

Malachi Nelson, Quarterback, Class of 2023

One of the biggest names in the recruiting world for this 2023 class is Los Alamitos quarterback Malachi Nelson. Nelson is a Southern California native, and Riley was eventually able to convince the highly-pursued quarterback to move to Norman and play for Oklahoma. Now, with Riley at USC, Nelson will be staying close to home as he announced on social media Tuesday. The five-star recruit is ranked No. 2 in his class, according to 247Sports, right behind quarterback Archie Manning. 

Nelson led Los Alamitos to a 9-2 record this season, throwing for 39 touchdowns with 9 interceptions. Nelson’s mobility is praised by scouts, and his lean frame aids his agility when running with the ball.

Raleek Brown, Running Back, Class of 2022

Raleek Brown is another name to watch, as he decommitted from Oklahoma Wednesday night. A member of the powerhouse Mater Dei program in Santa Ana, Brown could be an important recruit for the Trojans as Riley revitalizes the program next season. A few hours after his introductory press conference Monday, Riley conducted an in-house visit with Brown. Another five-star recruit, Brown is rated as the second-highest running back in his class, according to 247Sports. 

With two running backs, senior Keaontay Ingram and redshirt senior Vavae Malepeai, having prominent roles in the team this season, the Trojans will likely have an opening at the running back position that Brown would be able to fill.

Domani Jackson, Cornerback, Class of 2022

One of USC’s biggest struggles this season has been the secondary play, and bringing in Jackson would be a huge step in the right direction. Unlike the last two mentioned recruits, Jackson has already been heavily recruited by USC — he initially committed to the school Jan. 23 but decommitted Nov. 14. Since then, Jackson has narrowed down his search to USC, Michigan and Alabama. The No. 4 recruit in the nation in his class, according to 247Sports, Jackson would be a huge get for a Trojans secondary that needs more talent to improve next season. 

Makai Lemon, Athlete, Class of 2023

Makai Lemon can bring a new dimension to the USC squad if he decides to play for the Trojans. Lemon, a teammate to Nelson at Los Alamitos, also originally committed to Oklahoma but de-committed after Riley’s departure. As of now, 247Sports predicts he will most likely come to USC, although he hasn’t officially stated an interest yet. Lemon can play on both the offensive and defensive sides, with the ability to become a wide receiver or cornerback depending on a team’s needs. 

Lemon and Nelson already have built up significant chemistry, and a commitment to USC would pave the way for a dangerous offensive combination, should Lemon become a wide receiver, in three to four years time.