USC will have to look elsewhere for a quarterback. Long viewed as the Trojans’ top target in the transfer portal, former Kansas State quarterback Will Howard gave his verbal commitment to Ohio State on Thursday.

With Caleb Williams expected to enter the NFL Draft, USC spent the better part of December in the market for a transfer quarterback to come in and replace the Heisman winner. When 5-star 2023 signee Malachi Nelson hit the transfer portal, many believed a move was likely.

Then Miller Moss lit the field up at the Holiday Bowl — completing 23 of his 33 passes for 372 passing yards and six touchdowns against one interception in a 42-28 win over Louisville — and things got a bit more complicated. Miller made a strong case to be the starting quarterback in 2024, providing coach Lincoln Riley with more of a seamless transition from Williams.

Rather than bring in a hired gun, so to speak, who would need to learn the team and learn the offense, why not go with Moss, who will be going into his third season within Riley’s system?

The issue still facing the Trojans, however, is one of depth.

With Nelson in the picture, the expectation was that spring ball would provide a healthy competition between Moss, Nelson, and whoever Riley chose to add from the portal. Without a transfer joining the group, Moss and Jake Jensen will be the only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster.

Jensen spent his freshman season at Contra Costa Junior College before joining USC ahead of the 2022 season. He has not seen the field in the two years since.

It’s late in the process for a portal quarterback. Liberty’s Kaidon Salter — who ended the 2023 season ninth in total QBR — entered the portal this week. He and Florida State transfer Tate Rodemaker are arguably the biggest names left on the market.

Arizona’s Jayden de Laura is in the portal, but after losing his starting job to Noah Fifita, he’s undoubtedly looking for an opportunity to come in and start. Ty Thompson left Oregon after three seasons, but would also be looking for an opportunity to play after not really having much with the Ducks.

Some might link USC to Chandler Morris from TCU, as Morris played for Riley at Oklahoma in 2020, but that seems like an unlikely addition after Riley and OU fought over his immediate eligibility when he joined the Horned Frogs.

Another route for Riley would be to sit out the winter window and re-evaluate USC’s quarterback options after spring ball concludes and the portal re-opens.

Howard was the sixth-ranked quarterback in the transfer portal, according to 247Sports. Nelson, for what it’s worth, is ranked fourth.