LOS ANGELES — Last week marked the closing of the NCAA’s winter Transfer Portal window.
While players who are already in the portal remain free to visit and sign with schools, players will not be able to enter the portal again until April. The only exception to this will be for players on teams who change coaches, who will have a 30-day window to enter the portal following the coaching change.
Obviously, there are still a lot of dominos left to fall, and USC’s roster does not look the same right now as it will when the Trojans begin their 2024 Fall Camp in August. However, let’s take a look at how USC fared during the winter Transfer Portal window, highlighting some of the Trojans’ notable additions and losses during that time.
John Humphrey, CB
After coming across town from UCLA in December, new USC defensive coordinator D’Anton Lynn brought Humphrey, one of his starting cornerbacks, with him. Starting the majority of the Bruins’ games over the past two seasons, Humphrey recorded 22 tackles, three passes defended, and two forced fumbles in 2023. He will have one year of eligibility remaining.
Kamari Ramsey, S
Another starter in UCLA’s secondary under Lynn, Ramsey broke out as a redshirt freshman in 2023. On the season, he recorded 40 tackles, four passes defended, and an interception. Now, he will reunite with Lynn at USC, where he will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Isaiah Raikes, DL
One area where USC needs to improve significantly in 2024 is getting bigger and stronger along the lines of scrimmage. At times over the past two seasons, the Trojans have been dominated by more physical opponents such as Utah, Notre Dame, and Oregon.
Enter Raikes, a 6’2″, 320 lb. defensive line transfer from Texas A&M. With one year of eligibility remaining, Raikes should significantly improve the physicality of the Trojans’ defensive line.
Jayden Maiva, QB
With the departures of Caleb Williams for the NFL Draft and Malachi Nelson to the Transfer Portal, the Trojans needed to add depth at the quarterback position. And they found just that in Maiva.
As a redshirt freshman at UNLV this past year, Maiva threw for 3,085 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He is expected to compete with rising junior Miller Moss, who lit up Louisville in the Holiday Bowl, for the starting job at USC.
DeCarlos Nicholson, CB
With top cornerback Christian Roland-Wallace out of eligibility and fellow starter Domnani Jackson entering the Transfer Portal, cornerback will be a major position of need for the Trojans this offseason. Hence, they went and got a second cornerback out of the portal in former Mississippi State Bulldog DeCarlos Nicholson.
After starting his career at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Nicholson appeared in 25 games over the past two seasons with the Bulldogs, making seven starts. He has one year of eligibility remaining.
Jo’Quavious Marks, RB
With USC’s top two running backs Austin Jones and Marshawn Lloyd both moving on to the NFL, USC was significantly lacking in both depth and proven production at the position. Hence, they went into the portal and got another transfer from Mississippi State in Jo’Quavious Marks.
In four years with the Bulldogs, Marks rushed for over 1800 yards and 22 touchdowns. He will likely be USC’s top running back heading into Spring Practice, and will have one year of eligibility remaining.
Akili Arnold, S
Two of the biggest portal pickups for the Trojans were the Arnold brothers, both of whom come to USC from Oregon State. The older Arnold, Akili, enjoyed the best season of his career at safety in 2023, racking up 62 tackles, six passes defended, two interceptions, and 0.5 sacks. He will have one year of eligibility remaining at USC.
Easton Mascarenas-Arnold, LB
Arnold’s younger brother, linebacker Easton Mascarenas-Arnold, will also transfer from Oregon State to USC. Like his brother, he broke out in 2023, recording 106 tackles, two interceptions, and two sacks. He will also have one year of eligibility remaining.
Nate Clifton, DL
A graduate transfer from Vanderbilt, Clifton started the better part of the last three seasons with the Commodores. In 2023, he led the team with 7.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks. He should be a key piece on a retooled USC defensive line in his final season of eligibility.
Jaden Richardson, WR
With Tahj Washington and Brenden Rice both off to the NFL and Dorian Singer and Mario Williams entering the Transfer Portal, the Trojans have a need at wide receiver heading into 2024. They took the first step to address that need by adding Richardson, a Division III All-American at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Hank Pepper, LS
Following the graduation of Jac Casante, USC needed a new starting long snapper. And they got just that in Hank Pepper, who comes to the Trojans from Michigan State. He will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Tackett Curtis, LB
One of USC’s top-rated recruits in the 2023 class, Curtis became the first true freshman to start a season opener at linebacker for the Trojans since Cameron Smith in 2015. His freshman season was an up-and-down one, however, as USC’s linebackers struggled throughout the 2023 campaign.
With the Trojans set to run a different defensive scheme under Lynn, Curtis decided to enter the Transfer Portal. He has since committed to Wisconsin.
Domani Jackson, CB
Re-earning the commitment of Jackson, a five-star recruit who had committed to USC under the previous coaching staff but decommitted following the firing of Clay Helton, was one of Lincoln Riley’s first big recruiting wins following his hiring as USC’s head coach in November of 2021. Jackson’s two years on campus, however, were a bit of a disappointment. While he earned a starting role in USC’s secondary this past fall, he struggled at times, and was frequently burned by wide receivers in coverage.
Jackson has since committed to Alabama.
Dorian Singer, WR
In 2022 at Arizona, Singer was one of the best receivers in the Pac-12 Conference, if not the entire country. After watching him torch the Trojans to the tune of 141 yards and three touchdowns as a member of the Wildcats, USC quarterback Caleb Williams asked the coaching staff to recruit Singer to Los Angeles.
After transferring to USC in 2023, however, Singer struggled to mesh with Williams and the offense, catching just 29 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns on the season. Now, he is back in the Transfer Portal again.
Mario Williams, WR
After committing to Oklahoma as a high-profile recruit out of high school, Williams was one of three Sooners players, alongside quarterback Caleb Williams and defensive back Latrell McCutchin, to follow head coach Lincoln Riley to USC.
Williams’s two years at USC were a mixed bag. While he caught 69 passes for 936 yards and seven touchdowns as a Trojan, he also struggled with drops at times, especially this past season. He is now back in the portal looking for a new home to play his final season of college football at.
Malachi Nelson, QB
When five-star quarterback Malachi Nelson arrived on campus last January, he was supposed to be the Trojans’ quarterback of the future. Now, less than a year later, he is gone.
Nelson struggled with injury issues in his lone season at USC, and attempted just three passes all season. He also reportedly clashed with head coach Lincoln Riley at times due to concerns over his work ethic. Nelson has since committed to Boise State.
Raleek Brown, RB/WR
Another one of Riley’s first big recruiting wins at USC, Brown saw significant playing time as a hybrid running back/wide receiver/return specialist as a true freshman in 2022. With five-star freshman Zacahriah Branch essentially taking over that role in 2023, however, Brown touched the ball in just two games and redshirted. He entered the Transfer Portal following the regular season’s conclusion.
Korey Foreman, Edge
Three years ago, Foreman arrived on campus as the number one overall recruit in the country—the third such player in the modern era to sign with the Trojans. Three years later, he departs as a player who never really lived up to his potential at USC.
Foreman has since committed to Fresno State. While his time on campus in Los Angeles was a relative disappointment given the expectations he arrived with, USC fans will forever cherish the memory of his game-sealing interception to take down crosstown rival UCLA in 2022.
Michael Jackson III, WR
While Jackson III flashed his obvious talent throughout his three years at USC, he was never able to earn a consistent role in the wide receiver rotation. The 2023 season was his least productive as a Trojan, as Jackson III caught just 12 passes for 116 yards and no touchdowns. He will transfer to Georgia, where he will look to earn more consistent playing time.
Darwin Barlow, RB
Barlow arrived at USC as a transfer from TCU in 2021. While he made the most of the limited playing time he got, Barlow was never really able to climb up the depth chart, being stuck behind guys such as Keaontay Ingram, Travis Dye, Austin Jones, and Marshawn Lloyd. Now, Barlow will look to transfer again for his final season of college football.
Michael Tarquin, OL
Following the departure of three starters from USC’s 2022 offensive line, Lincoln Riley went to the Transfer Portal for replacements. The result was a unit that frequently struggled in 2023, including an abysmal performance against Notre Dame.
Now Tarquin, who came to USC from Florida, will transfer again for his final season of college football. He has since committed to Oklahoma.
De’jon Benton, DL
Benton had his best season as a Trojan in 2023, recording 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks. With USC retooling its defense under D’anton Lynn, however, Benton will look elsewhere for his final year of eligibility.