After eight months of analyzing and tweaking and deftly maneuvering via school soccer’s first offseason of one thing akin to free company, how was it going to really feel early Friday morning for the new-look USC Trojans to lastly be collectively at Brian Kennedy Discipline?
“I didn’t sleep very good last night,” first-year USC head coach Lincoln Riley mentioned.
He smiled, however he gave the impression to be genuine in his anxiousness.
“It’s been a long road for this group to this point,” Riley mentioned. “This group’s been challenged in a lot of different ways, and they’ve continued to respond. We’ve talked a lot obviously about how this roster’s come together, and I think for them they’re glad to have all their guys. Now let’s get to work and start building this.”
Riley’s longtime ally, USC broad receivers coach Dennis Simmons, referred to as the 2022 transfer-portal-built Trojans “kind of like an arranged marriage.”
“A lot of these kids, we didn’t sit in their parents’ living room and make any kind of conversation as to how we can help their child grow,” Simmons mentioned, “and on the flip side, a lot of these kids that we worked with in the spring didn’t commit to us.”
The Trojans’ rushed union — from Riley and his band of Oklahoma believers who joined his USC employees to former Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams to the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner Jordan Addison, a switch from Pittsburgh, to a restocked linebacker corps — appeared Friday to have entered a contented honeymoon section.
The frustration from the Trojans’ 4-8 document final season and the lingering consternation that outlined the ultimate years of the Clay Helton period have disappeared.
“Along with a lot of new players, there’s some of the best players in college football,” mentioned middle Brett Neilon, who’s in his sixth yr with the Trojans. “You got Caleb, Jordan won the Biletnikoff, you got Travis [Dye], you got Austin Jones, you got Brenden Rice. It’s really exciting in that regard that we’re getting a lot of players, but they’re also extremely talented.”
Friday was Addison’s first apply sporting the cardinal and gold — and Heisman Trophy winner Carson Palmer’s previously retired No. 3 jersey — and the younger man actually regarded the half.
“He’s a good player,” Riley mentioned with a touch of understatement. “He’s very attentive. You coach the details and you’re seeing it show up on the field pretty quickly. He made some nice plays for us today. Obviously he’s a proven player in his past. He’s got to come prove it here. But for the first time truly on the field coaching him, he’s impressive.”
After all, for USC to get again to being USC shortly, it’s going to take greater than flash on the talent positions.
“We’re still in that we-gotta-prove-it stage,” Simmons mentioned. “Do I think we have an abundance of talent? Yes. Do I think we have all the size, strength and speed that we need? Yes. But who we are as a unit and who we want to become as a unit is yet to be seen. That’s what fall camp is about. I think the strength of our team is going to be our toughness.”
On that be aware, Riley mentioned there will probably be no easing-in interval for the Trojans within the coming days as they full some practices on the Coliseum to get acclimated to an previous iconic constructing that’s really their new dwelling.
“For us right now, Year 1, there’s so much new about this roster,” Riley mentioned. “We’re going to attack it and then at the right time we’ll pull off of them just a little bit and try to get their bodies back and start preparing for opponents.
“But right now we‘ve got to get USC right. We‘ve got to win our inner battle, and that’s our fight every day. As opposed to thinking of it like a marathon, where you run a little bit each day, our deal is it’s a fistfight every day and you wake up and get ready to fight again.”