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Longtime USC quarterback Kedon Slovis enters NCAA transfer portal

USC quarterback Kedon Slovis watches from the sideline against Notre Dame.
Longtime USC quarterback Kedon Slovis entered the NCAA transfer portal Monday.
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

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.

Before the 2021 campaign, Slovis was still seen as a potential first-round NFL draft pick. His name was noted on preseason Heisman Trophy watch lists. But the season didn’t go as planned, for either USC or its quarterback.

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Slovis suffered a neck injury against Washington State in late September, and Dart came alive with a record-setting performance in his stead. The two passers eventually found themselves in a convoluted quarterback rotation, until Slovis suffered a lower-leg injury late in the season. As USC lost its final four games, Slovis sat out the last three weeks, watching from the sideline as Dart officially took the reins.

Slovis could still opt to pull out of the portal and return to USC. He could also still decide to declare for the NFL draft, if he ultimately doesn’t like the transfer options available to him.

But after an unceremonious end to his time as the Trojans’ quarterback, it seems likely that Slovis will go elsewhere for another season, intent on proving that he can recapture the magic of his freshman campaign.

It was down the stretch of that 2019 season that Slovis really found his stride at USC. He threw for more than 400 yards in four of his final six games as a freshman, before injuring his elbow in a Holiday Bowl loss to Iowa.

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Slovis never quite reached those heights again at USC. Robbed of an offseason due to the pandemic, Slovis struggled with his confidence as he tried to return from the injury. His consistency suffered as a result. But the quarterback still led the Trojans to numerous fourth-quarter comebacks as a sophomore, ultimately guiding an erratic USC offense to the conference title game, where the wheels promptly fell off against Oregon.

This season, he threw for 2,153 yards, 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions before an injury saw Dart supplant him as starter.

In spite of how his experience ended at USC, Slovis should have no shortage of suitors in the transfer portal, where his three years of experience and two All-Pac-12 seasons will be in high demand. He’ll have two more seasons of college eligibility, if he chooses to take them.

Slovis is just the latest in a parade of Trojans to enter the portal since the hire of new coach Lincoln Riley. Linebackers Juliano Falaniko, Raymond Scott and Hunter Echols, defensive lineman Jake Lichtenstein and safety Chase Williams all put their names in the portal last week.


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