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Early signing day: Live updates on USC coach Lincoln Riley’s first recruiting class

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A giant video board at the Coliseum features Lincoln Riley, the Trojans' new football coach
New USC football coach Lincoln Riley is expected to pull in a strong recruiting class.
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

New USC coach Lincoln Riley is expected to use the early and regular signing periods to put together a strong class. Follow along for updates.

Raleek Brown of Mater Dei and Fabian Ross of Bishop Gorman sign

Raleek Brown, who changed his commitment from Oklahoma to USC when Lincoln Riley left the Sooners to coach the Trojans, signed Wednesday morning,

Brown and Fabian Ross, a four-star cornerback from Bishop Gorman High in Henderson, Nev., give the Trojans five players that have signed Wednesday morning.

Brown (5-foot-8, 185 pounds) is tough to tackle with a low center of gravity. He was ranked the No. 2 prospect in California and No. 34 nationally by 247Sports.com.

Brown rushed for more than 1,000 yards for the state champion Mater Dei, averaging eight yards a carry.

Ross (6-foot, 180 pounds) made his verbal commitment Jan. 4, on his father’s birthday. He chose the Trojans over UCLA, Arizona State and Colorado.

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Edge rusher Devan Thompkins becomes third player to sign with USC

Devan Thompkins, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound edge rusher from Stockton Edison High, became the third player to sign with USC on Wednesday, following punter Atticus Bertrams and linebacker Garrison Madden.

Thompkins was signed based on his athleticism and potential because the 2021 season was his only year playing football since the sixth grade. He is a standout basketball player at Edison and played basketball his first three years of high school at Stockton St. Mary’s.

His uncle, Larry Grant, played linebacker at Ohio State (2006-07) and for four NFL teams. from 2008-2013.

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Garrison Madden and Atticus Bertrams first in the fold at USC

Garrison Madden, a linebacker from Dutchtown High in Hampton, Ga., and Atticus Bertram, a punter from Australia, are the first two players to sign with the Trojans on Wednesday.

Madden (6-foot-2, 200 pounds) is fast, running 4.38 in the 40 and 10.6 in the 100 meters, so it’s been speculated that he could shift to safety at USC.

Bertrams is the heir apparent for USC punter Ben Griffiths, who also comes from Australia.

A clue that Bertrams is from Down Under is the spelling on his tweet announcing his signing: “I am extremely honoured and excited to announce that I have accepted a full scholarship to study and play football at the University of Southern California.”

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USC coach Lincoln Riley expected to land elite recruiting class despite quiet start

During the hectic few hours that followed his unexpected hire at USC, Lincoln Riley paused to make an important call. Raleek Brown, a top Sooners commit, like many other Southern California prospects was rightfully stunned by news of Riley’s move from Oklahoma to USC. But the call was meant to ease those concerns, reassuring the No. 2 overall player in the state that he still had an offer to play for Riley — now just a short drive away in L.A.

The next night, a few hours after his introductory press conference, Riley made that drive himself, hammering home the same message during a visit to Brown’s living room in Monrovia. A few days later, the Santa Ana Mater Dei all-purpose back officially flipped from Oklahoma and followed Riley to USC.

Brown’s decision made him the first commit of the Riley era — and an important symbol of USC’s reemergence on the recruiting trail — but as early signing day looms, the speedy five-star still stands largely alone in the coach’s first recruiting class. An exodus of commits in the wake of Riley’s hiring left USC’s 2022 class stripped down to its studs, with only a four-star cornerback in Fabian Ross, a largely unknown edge rusher in Stockton Edison three-star prospect Devan Thompkins and an Australian punter, Atticus Bertrams, remaining.

As it stands, USC’s class ranks a meager 101st nationally — dead last in the Pac-12. But no one expects that to be the case Wednesday night.

“Everyone in front of them is deathly afraid of what’s to come,” says 247Sports.com recruiting director Brandon Huffman.

That momentum is palpable, as USC’s return to prominence under Riley has been the talk of the recruiting trail since the coach’s arrival. But what that progress may yield in the form of results on Wednesday remains to be seen. Several top USC targets, including five-star Mater Dei cornerback Domani Jackson, don’t plan to share their decisions the first day of the early signing period. Jackson, the state’s No. 1 player, plans to announce Friday. Others are waiting until February, allowing the coaching carousel to cool off for a few weeks.

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Longtime USC quarterback Kedon Slovis enters NCAA transfer portal

USC quarterback Kedon Slovis drops back to pass against UCLA
USC quarterback Kedon Slovis drops back to pass against UCLA at the Coliseum during the 2019 season.
(Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Kedon Slovis was an overlooked and underappreciated three-star prospect when, in September 2019, he was abruptly thrust into the spotlight as a true freshman, forced to take over in the season opener for injured JT Daniels.

Expectations, at the time, were low. But for the better part of the next three seasons, as Slovis took hold of his opportunity and transformed into a two-time All-Pac-12 passer and potential NFL prospect, he never relinquished the reins as quarterback and guided USC during three tumultuous seasons. He was named the Pac-12 offensive freshman of the year in his first season, led the Trojans to a Pac-12 title game during his second, pandemic-altered campaign and then helped usher them through an emotional coaching change as a junior, all the while watching his hold on the job slip away.

Slovis officially entered the NCAA transfer portal on Monday, a decision that seemed assured since the sudden arrival this fall of freshman quarterback Jaxson Dart. For Slovis, it marked a bittersweet conclusion to an uneven tenure as the Trojans’ signal caller. He passed for 7,576 yards and 58 touchdowns during his three seasons at USC, totals that rank among the top seven in school history. Early on, it seemed Slovis was a diamond in the rough uncovered by USC and suddenly destined for stardom. But by the end of his final season, it had become clear USC was ready to move forward, and Slovis was ready to move on.

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