Fans were excited upon the news that Drew Richmond, a tackle from Tennessee, was transferring from the Tennessee Volunteers to the USC Trojans. After the exodus of talent that has left Southern California by transfer (see: Trevon Sidney, Matt Fink, Oluwole Betiku, Josh Imatorbhebhe, and potentially Velus Jones), USC finally gets to add talent through transfer, rather than losing it.
And what a talent Richmond is. The 6-foot-5, 316 pound tackle has prototypical size for a tackle. He was a four star recruit coming out of high-school, and the highly regarded recruit had a productive career in Tennessee. Richmond redshirted, and started six games in 2016, seven in 2017, and every game this past season.
This past season, he played on the right side of the line. The year before that, he was a left tackle.
With USC potentially set with Austin Jackson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Brett Neilon, and Andrew Vorhees at left tackle, left guard, center, and right guard respectively. Jackson and Vorhees have experience playing serviceably along the offensive line, while Vera-Tucker and Neilon have been revelations and seem entrenched at their positions. This clearly leaves the spot for Richmond at right tackle, where he would compete with Jalen McKenzie, Liam Jimmons, and Jason Rodriguez. As a graduate transfer from the SEC, competing with players that have never started at right tackle at the college level, is good news for Richmond who will surely be favored to start.
Still, Richmond will need to transition to the spread offense. In Tennessee, Richmond played in a run-heavy, SEC offense which leaned on his physicality and power blocking. Richmond is a willing blocker in space, but struggles with speed rushes. Especially when defenders anticipate the snap, they can easily get past him and shoot the gap. It’s almost impossible to go through Richmond with his power and physicality. Even in the elite SEC, he was almost never beat with a straight bull rush. But he will need to work on his lateral quickness to make sure defenders cannot blow by him. He will need to eliminate his occasional false step at the snap. This is especially important in Graham Harrell’s spread offense, as offensive lineman spaced apart from one another, with larger gaps for defenders to try to shoot.
Richmond has the talent and experience to contribute immediately at right tackle. Though in order to truly flourish, he must clean up his game and improve his lateral quickness. He will be making a dramatic transition from Tennessee’s offense to the spread, and must adjust accordingly. How he adjusts will delineate boom or bust.