Not 2 weeks ago, Oregon was the new mecca of the Pac-12, Destination No. 1, the toast of the recruiting trail, with Dan Lanning lapping the competition and leaving his conference coaching colleagues in the dust.

What a difference 2 short weeks makes.

After nothing less than one of the best recruiting blitzes in conference history, Lincoln Riley and the USC Trojans made it clear this week that Heritage Hall is still the place to be in the Pac-12, even if the rankings don’t quite show it yet.

The rankings, though, did change in a drastic way after a string of oral commitments that puts USC in the Top 25 nationally, with the promise of more to come.

It was, simply put, everything we’ve been waiting to see out of USC. And, perhaps, a scary sign of things to come.


It started with the top-ranked offensive tackle in the state of Colorado, Hayden Treter, on Sunday morning. A nice get as a 3-star with offers from Oregon, Washington State and Cal, among others, but just a preview of what was on the docket.

Then came 4-star safety Jarvis Boatwright Jr. out of Clearwater, Fla., a big fish for Alex Grinch’s defense. His announcement on Sunday night only built on the momentum.

Because star cornerback Dakoda Fields announced his commitment to kick off the week just after 9 a.m. on Monday. Fields, from Trojan factory Gardena Serra, picked the home-town favorite over a host of top national programs, including the best of the west in Oregon, Washington and Deion Sanders and the budding Colorado program, as well as Alabama and Miami. He ranks in the top 10 nationally at his position.

In an interview with 247Sports recruiting analyst Greg Biggins, he credited his commitment in part to his growing relationship with the USC football staff, namely defensive backs coach Donte Williams.

“I was with coach Donte a lot,” Fields told Biggins. “He has always been the coach I’m closest to and I was with him and coach Mays most of the visit and I really enjoyed my time with them. I’m really comfortable with all the staff now and feel really good about the school. Lincoln Riley is great and his main message was there isn’t another school that I will find that is one of the top academic schools in the nation while also being a winning program consistently. It was all too much to pass up.”

USC wasn’t done, as the Trojans picked up a mid-day commitment from Kameryn Fountain, one of the country’s top edge rushers, out of Atlanta. Another top-100 commit.

And, lastly, for now, and maybe the biggest get of the bunch, 4-star offensive lineman Manasse Itete out of Central Catholic High in Modesto, Calif.

All told, USC’s national recruiting rankings jumped from No. 57 before the weekend to No. 21 overall, with 6 4-star recruits and 2 3-stars.

The Trojans still trail Oregon, which leads the Pac-12 and ranks 7th nationally with 14 recruits, including 11 4-stars and 3 3-stars. Counted out not too long ago, at least now it’s a game. And compared to its future B1G opponents, the class ranks 6th, behind Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

But don’t be surprised if USC does some more catching up in the near future.


What once made USC perhaps the premier destination in all of college football was the combination of exposure and A-rated competition. It wasn’t just about being seen, it’s about who they were seen against. You could just about pencil the Trojans into the national conversation on a yearly basis, with the Rose Bowl being not the apex but the bar.

At a time when the Pac-12 was regularly filled with national contenders, the Los Angeles Coliseum was a beacon for professional scouts on a weekly basis.

Destined for the Big Ten in 2024, USC now has one of the most compelling pitches in the sport. You can’t neg the competition anymore, as the Trojans are playing in a top-2 conference. You can’t question the Trojans’ Playoff chances — both with an expanded field and because even a blemished resume lands the B1G’s top teams in the College Football Playoff, or at least a top bowl game.

This is the best confluence of talent, timing, leadership and exposure that USC has had in years, maybe ever. If the program’s backers can continue to beef up the NIL opportunities, this bullet train is going to keep speeding up.

Which should absolutely terrify not just Chip Kelly, but also Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher, Jim Harbaugh and the rest of those who target the top talent the nation has to offer.