The newest QB transfer, Jayden Maiava, is excited to compete for the starting job

USC is excited about the competition in the QB room, but who will ultimately win the battle to become the starter? Here's the latest update from USC football spring practice.

LOS ANGELES — The USC Trojans had a successful recruiting weekend, securing five new commits. Head coach Lincoln Riley is focused on strengthening the team’s defense and has managed to recruit five new defensive players. Along with analyzing the recruits, people are also keeping a close eye on the ongoing spring practice. One of the most significant areas of interest during spring ball is the competition between the quarterbacks.

Here are three takeaways from practice:

The newest recruits in town

Last season was a disappointment for the team under defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. Coach Riley has a lot to prove in order to regain the confidence of the university and fan base. He started by bringing in D’Anton Lynn from UCLA and Eric Henderson from the Los Angeles Rams. Many moves have been made since then, but this past weekend, Riley made another impressive move. Justus Terry, a five-star defensive lineman from Manchester who was committed to Georgia, flipped to USC. This is a great addition to the team for the 2025 season.

Riley is determined to turn around this season for the team, after finishing 7-5 last year. The coaching upgrades have given the team a significant boost as they move forward to compete in the Big Ten. One of the latest recruits to join the team is four-star defensive lineman Isaiah Gibson. Standing tall at 6’5 and weighing 240 pounds, he is from Warner Robins, Georgia, and recently committed to USC after receiving an offer from Georgia. The credit for bringing in these new recruits goes to Henderson, who recruited both Terry and Gibson and hosted them at USC over the weekend. To add to the excitement, Aaron Donald, who recently retired from the Los Angeles Rams, was present at USC’s third spring practice on Saturday.

USC continued to make moves over this past weekend as they also have recruited defensive lineman Gus Cordova from Austin, Texas, and safety Hylton Stubbs from Jacksonville, Florida. Both of these players will be a part of the 2025 class. Additionally, they have also included defensive back Dominick Kelly from Tampa, Florida. The Trojans are working hard to improve their team, and Riley has mentioned that the school’s recent NIL gains have been beneficial to the program.

“NIL has taken some monster leaps in the last several months, which has been positive,” Riley said. “I think for everybody, our fan base and supporters, it’s just been gaining an understanding of what it is and how it’s not important, it’s imperative. You have to have it. Last year, it was okay. It was great kind of outside of the whole collective world. Being in LA, our guys probably get more outside deals than anybody in the country, which is awesome.”

The battle for the QB1 position

We all remember the excellent performance given by Miller Moss at the Holiday Bowl in December. However, his performance was not enough to guarantee him the starting spot for the upcoming 2024 season. Coach Riley has previously stated that Moss is likely to be the starter, but the position is still open for competition. Moss spoke to the media last week and was not pleased with the talk of competition between him and the newest transfer from UNLV, Jayden Maiava. USC seems to be attracting players from the Georgia Bulldogs’ program, as they also flipped Maiava.

Maiava has great size and arm strength which is a good fit for Riley’s offense in the Big Ten. Interestingly, Maiava and one of USC’s top receivers, Zachariah Branch, have already established a strong connection. They were previously teammates at Bishop Gorman High School in Nevada and are now reunited in Los Angeles. Branch had a promising first season but was held back by injuries. When asked about his former teammate, Branch said that it’s been fun catching up and watching his improvement.

“He has a strong arm, for sure. He definitely can throw the ball pretty far, pretty accurate. I love catching the ball from him as well.” said Branch after practice.

The main reason Maiava is at USC, it’s because of the great Lincoln Riley. That’s the real reason.

“It’s been great. I’ve been loving it. Coach Riley, he’s just a great dude. Sitting in the film room, the knowledge that he has is amazing.” said Maiava.

Maiava expressed his thoughts on the current status of his relationship with Moss.

“Miller, he’s cool. I love that guy. Hats off to him for what he’s done in his past and all his accomplishments. All I do is just try to learn from not just Miller Moss but everybody else in the QB room.” said Maiava on Moss.

As we look forward to the spring game on April 20th, the competition between the two quarterbacks is anticipated to only get better. The young quarterback is eager to learn from Coach Riley and to make his teammates better at the same time. Maiava is displaying strong potential for the starting job as we move closer to the regular season in September.

“I love competing. I love going out there and not just bringing my best but bringing the best out of my teammates. So just going out there and help the team win.”

The newest transfer brothers share their experiences

In December, Easton Mascarenas-Arnold transferred from Oregon State to USC, and his stepbrother, Akili Arnold, followed suit the very next day. USC coach Lincoln Riley recently mentioned that both players, are displaying excellent leadership qualities. The stepbrothers opted to move to USC after their former coach at Oregon State, Jonathan Smith, left for Michigan State.

USC has made some great additions to the team since the start of the transfer portal. One of the strong additions is Akili Arnold who finished last season with his best year in college football. He had a total of 62 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 6 pass deflections. In addition to the Arnold’s, the Trojans also added, Vanderbilt DL Nate Clifton, and Michigan State’s Hank Pepper.

Akili discussed the challenges of adjusting to a new team and being back in his home state of California. He is glad that Riley is taking a more hands-on approach during practice and is being patient with the defense this spring. Arnold spoke about the group of competitive safety players, and Riley enjoys seeing the Arnold brothers come in and make their presence known. Riley noted that the Arnold brothers possess excellent leadership skills and were both leaders in the Beavers locker room last season, which they now bring to this locker room.

Easton mentioned that his parents got married in 2011, making them stepbrothers. However, his father insists that they are simply brothers.

“We’ve lived together for a long time, I think at this point, low-key, like you have heard all his interviews and see a lot of our similarities. We are kind of the same person; we’re with each other all the time,” said Easton Mascarenas-Arnold.

During a conversation with Mascarenas-Arnold, he mentioned that their family are fans of UCLA, and attending USC felt a little strange to them. The Arnold brothers spoke at the same time after practice for the first time since transferring to USC. Mascarenas-Arnold also said that they are still roommates in college after living together for the past 12 years. Both brothers expressed their excitement about playing football in Southern California.

“My family is UCLA fans and going to another Pac-12 school, I always had a little animosity towards USC. So it’s kinda crazy that I ended up at USC but i’m here now. I’m really thankful to be a Trojan.” said Mascarenas-Arnold on Thursday after practice.

During their time together at Oregon State, the Arnold brothers always talked about achieving their dream of playing football together at the college level. Although they were able to spend two years together, they will now be continuing their dream in Southern California. USC is excited this spring as there is still a lot of room for improvement, but the future looks bright. USC completed their fifth spring practice on Thursday.