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Lincoln Riley effect: Five players and one coach announce they’re leaving USC

USC defensive tackle Jacob Lichtenstein wraps up Oregon State running back B.J. Baylor during a game in September.
USC defensive tackle Jacob Lichtenstein wraps up Oregon State running back B.J. Baylor during a game in September. Lichtenstein announced Monday he is entering the transfer portal.
(Katelyn Mulcahy / Getty Images)

The inevitable exodus has begun at USC.

Edge rushers Hunter Echols and Juliano Falaniko, defensive tackle Jake Lichtenstein and kicker Alex Stadthaus all entered the NCAA transfer portal on Monday, while offensive tackle Jalen McKenzie announced he would forgo an extra season of eligibility to enter the NFL draft.

Defensive line coach Vic So’oto also announced on Monday in a social media post that he would not be retained as part of USC’s new staff.

The four departing players are likely just the beginning of major turnover under Lincoln Riley, as the new coach works to rebuild the roster of a team that fell to 4-8 this season, its worst record in 30 years.

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An entirely new staff could also be in the works, as Riley had already brought a defensive coordinator (Alex Grinch) and receivers coach (Dennis Simmons) with him from Oklahoma. Tulsa offensive line coach Zach Hanson is likely to join the group as a tight ends coach, while Oklahoma outside linebackers and defensive ends coach Jamar Cain is also expected to join USC’s staff.

So’oto is the first of several assistants expected to part ways with USC in the coming days. In a post on social media, the defensive line coach wrote that he was “extremely excited for the next chapter of my career and the challenges that lie ahead.”

“I am disappointed I will not be able to finish the last year of my contract as a USC Trojan,” So’oto wrote. “The peaks and valleys of this profession are what make it special.”


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