Korey Foreman is a key figure for the USC defense in 2022.

The former 5-star edge rusher has all the physical tools to be a dominant player, but he’s still young and the freshman campaign in 2021 left plenty to be desired. Of course, Foreman hasn’t exactly had a smooth ride to begin his college career. He entered with lofty expectations, had his head coach fired early in the year, was in and out of the lineup, and then nursed an injury to open spring ball for a new coaching staff this year.

In an interview with USCFootball.com last month, USC defensive coordinator Alex Grinch gave praise to the work Foreman did once he returned to the field in the spring. He certainly feels like a player who could enjoy a breakthrough kind of campaign in 2022. The folks at Pro Football Focus think so.

Foreman was listed recently as a breakout candidate to watch next season, with PFF’s Anthony Treash writing the following:

Foreman was the No. 2-rated overall recruit in the 2021 class, behind only Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers. The USC edge defender saw limited action as a true freshman but showed why he was such a promising recruit in the first place, as he generated 11 pressures and produced a 73.0 PFF grade across 113 total snaps. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound true sophomore has the frame and an excellent blend of speed and power. Like with any young player, he needs to develop all parts of his game in order to take that next step. Perhaps the most exciting aspect is that the five-star is now being coached by Shaun Nua, who comes from Michigan, where he helped develop Aidan Hutchinson into one of the best edge rushers in the country.

Foreman posted 11 tackles and 3.5 tackles for loss last fall.

With USC moving into a new defense under Grinch and the Trojans finding former Auburn edge rusher Romello Height in the transfer portal, the hope is Foreman can settle into a role with reduced pressure. Grinch has had top-level havoc-creators in the past, and USC could sure use a guy off the edge who can get to the quarterback and cause some chaos in the backfield. Whereas last year USC was hoping Foreman could produce immediately, it feels like he’s being given a bit more time to grow under the new coaching staff.

“I think Korey’s done a good job of (focusing on getting better) since we’ve been here,” head coach Lincoln Riley said this spring. “He’s worked hard. You can’t get caught up in all (the recruiting hype). You’re here to play college football and be the best you can and, like any other player on our roster, if you do a good job with that, that can open up all kinds of things with the rest of your life both on the field and off the field, especially at a place like SC. Probably more so here than anywhere in the country.

“The focus has got to be on being your best here. Korey’s done a nice job of that. He’s gotten better. … He’s a gifted kid that’s gonna have to continue to work hard and make the most of the opportunities in front of him.”