The first recruiting domino of the Lincoln Riley era at USC has fallen. And it's a major one.
Los Alamitos (Calif.) High quarterback Malachi Nelson, a five-star prospect, flipped his pledge from Oklahoma to USC, less than 24 hours after Riley was introduced as the Trojans' new coach.
The No. 5 overall recruit and No. 2 quarterback in the class of 2023 according to the 247 Sports Composite Rankings, Nelson had committed to Riley and Oklahoma over USC in July. But with Riley now in Los Angeles, the dual-threat passer wasted little time in following the coach.
Nelson, who previously considered USC when Clay Helton was coach, announced his decision Tuesday on social media with a graphic that depicted him in USC gear and read, "Staying home."
"Yeah," he wrote, "This feels right."
Riley now has his quarterback of the future at USC, but he's probably not done poaching from his pool of Oklahoma commits, many of whom have backed out of their commitments. Five-star athlete Makai Lemon, who is teammates with Nelson at Los Alamitos, followed his quarterback Tuesday in announcing he was de-committing from Oklahoma.
In the 2022 class, the commitment of five-star running back Raleek Brown appears tenuous, especially after Riley and new wide receivers coach Dennis Simmons visited the Santa Ana Mater Dei back on Monday night.
Four-star linebacker Kobie McKinzie, four-star offensive lineman Demetrius Hunter and four-star defensive lineman Derrick Moore already made that leap, backing out of their commitments, while 2023 five-star receiver Brandon Inniss, four-star running back Treyaun Webb and four-star linebacker Kobie McKinzie did the same.