USC returns Austin Jones and Raleek Brown in the backfield this season. That duo combined for nearly 1,000 rushing yards and eight scores last year. Between the 5-foot-10 senior Jones and the 5-foot-8 sophomore Brown, there’s a bit of thunder and lightning to the duo. The Trojans probably didn’t need to add to the backfield — especially so considering the added threat of quarterback Caleb Williams in the run game and a pair of incoming 4-stars at the running back position — but they did.

You can never have too many playmakers in a Lincoln Riley offense. So Riley and his staff went out and plucked one of the most coveted from the transfer portal in former South Carolina runner MarShawn Lloyd. A 5-foot-9, 212-pound tailback, Lloyd brings experience and a versatile skillset to the Trojans’ running back room.

And through the opening week of spring ball, he immediately impressed his new teammates.

“MarShawn Lloyd, he’s the real deal,” said linebacker Mason Cobb. “I’m telling you guys right now, he’s the real deal. He’s just explosive, quick, strong and he just works hard. So, man, you guys just wait. I’m already telling you guys.”

An ACL injury in fall camp robbed Lloyd of his true freshman season in 2020, but he bounced back to make appearances in all 12 games for the Gamecocks in 2021. He was the Gamecocks’ fourth-leading rusher with 64 carries for 228 yards and a touchdown that season.

Last fall, Lloyd started in eight of his nine appearances. He ran for 573 yards and nine touchdowns on 111 carries, adding 176 yards and two scores through the air on 18 receptions.

“He’s got some leadership qualities,” said Riley prior to USC’s first spring practice. “Very, very hard worker.”

Williams has known Lloyd since their days in grade school. They faced each other; now they’ll share the backfield together.

“Before he got here, I knew he was the real deal, so that’s no surprise to me,” Williams said. “He has good vision, he catches the ball well out of the backfield — we might flex him out and things like that, get the ball in his hands, and let him do his thing. He’s been doing the same thing since eighth grade and it’s no surprise to me.”