With the 2017 NFL Draft now concluded and the departing USC Trojans football players headed to their NFL teams now is a great time to look ahead to the next 5 years of USC football. In short, the future of the program looks good and there are plenty of reasons for optimism. Here are five predictions for USC.
1. USC quarterbacks will see success after Sam Darnold’s departure
For starters, Sam Darnold will be the QB at USC for at least one more season. In theory he could remain at USC for longer as he will still have eligibility left but he will be draft eligible at the end of next season and he currently sits atop most of the way too early draft boards for 2018. While USC fans can enjoy one more great season from Sam Darnold it will not be all doom and gloom after he leaves for the NFL. Clay Helton and the USC coaching staff have been hard on the recruiting trail bringing in guys like 4-star pro style quarterback Jack Sears and others at the position.
2. USC running backs and wide receivers will rank among the best in the nation
Speaking of elite talent USC is also loaded with elite players at running back and wide receiver as well including 5-star running back Stephen Carr and 5-star wide receiver Joseph Lewis just this past year. These are in addition to already established elite players on the roster like Ronald Jones II. And while there are certainly questions marks in the short term along the offensive line Helton has brought in more than enough talent to keep this offense lighting up the scoreboard for the foreseeable future.
3. The Defensive front 7 will become one of the strongest units on the team
On defense things look pretty bright as well. Last year around this time the defensive front seven looked woefully thin and was sure to be the biggest weakness headed into the season. With excellent recruiting on the front along with great coaching and a great scheme the defensive front seven for the Trojans may well turn into one of the most feared in the Pac-12.
4. Recruiting will continue to be highly successful
Clay Helton and his staff have had two recruiting cycles under their belt now and while the first was a bit hindered because Helton was still the “interim” head coach for much of the season he and his staff still finished strong. In Clay Helton’s first recruiting class after his first full year as the head coach the Trojans finished with a top 5 class in 2017. Expect those nationally elite rankings to continue for Helton and USC.
5. USC will make the playoffs.
With the elite recruits coming in and Helton’s staff having success developing players it is quite likely the Trojans will make a playoff run in the near future. For the more optimistic that might happen as early as next season given how strongly the Trojans closed out their year after such a brutal start. Quite a few things have to fall into place in order for any team to make the playoffs and any number of things can derail a team’s playoff chances but for USC lack of talent will not be one of those things.
Expectations are certainly high for the Trojans but this team has the talent and the coaching staff in place to, at a minimum, be an annual competitor for the Pac-12 Championship and a trip to the Rose Bowl. Whether or not USC can advance beyond that will certainly depend on a bit of luck and approval of the College Football Playoff committee.