USC safety Calen Bullock took major advantage of the staff change at USC last offseason. A player who bounced all over the field as a true freshman in 2021, Bullock settled at safety in USC’s 2022 defense and exploded.

While the Trojans had their warts on the defensive side of the football, Bullock was one of the bright spots. He picked off five passes and proved an invaluable part of USC’s 11-win campaign. Entering just his third year of college ball, Bullock has been tabbed by Pro Football Focus as the best returning safety in the country.

PFF’s Max Chadwick had this to say on Bullock’s game:

Bullock was a PFF first-team All-American in 2022 thanks to his dominance in coverage. The sophomore’s five interceptions were tied for fifth among all safeties in the country. He was also the third-most valuable safety in the country according to PFF’s wins above average metric. 

As a first-year defensive back, Bullock played corner, started at nickel, and became the first true freshman Trojan to start at safety for the program since 2013.

Bullock had 40 tackles in 12 games, the sixth-most on the team. He broke up four passes and intercepted two others. The FWAA named him to its Freshman All-American team and PFF called him a breakout player to watch in the 2022 season.

There maybe wasn’t a single player on USC’s roster that drew more consistent and across-the-board attention from his peers — both coaches and teammates — than Bullock throughout the spring and summer. He quickly emerged as a likely starter for a Trojan defense that went out looking for more talent to add to the roster.

As a second-year defender, Bullock had 48 tackles (sixth on the team) and five pass breakups to go with his interceptions. He also had a pick-six in the opener against Rice.

Next season, USC is hoping for significant improvement on defense. Bullock will play a big role in whatever form that takes.