In very surprising news, USC freshman defensive tackle Jay Toia has entered his name into the transfer portal, potentially dealing a huge blow to the interior of the Trojans defensive line.
The move was first reported the Rivals Network transfer portal tracker, and retweeted by Toia himself.
The four-star class of 2021 prospect made a huge impression as an early enrollee this past spring, filling a void left due to injuries to incoming transfer Ishmael Sopsher and returning veteran Brandon Pili. Toia did not look anything like a true freshman and appeared to be in line for serious playing time this season.
Even if Toia didn’t see significant minutes this fall, he was clearly a building block for the future at a position of need for USC.
Sopsher is scheduled to return in the fall. He missed the spring after undergoing surgery for compartment syndrome. He was seen as a potential immediate impact guy after electing to transfer from Alabama. Now, he absolutely has to be one. Pili will miss the year after tearing his Achilles, leaving a collection of Sopsher, Jamar Sekona, Kobe Pepe, Stanley Ta’ufo’ou and Maninoa Tufono in the middle. Sekona had a very strong spring, while Pepe missed most of it due to injury and Tufono missed all of it.
Toia is the second defensive lineman to hit the transfer portal this offseason, after defensive end Caleb Tremblay already announced a move to Tennessee.
No other interior defensive linemen are scheduled to arrive this summer in the 2021 class, with Korey Foreman definitely an edge defender and Colin Mobley likely headed outside as well. Attention will certainly turn to the transfer portal now, with the Trojans already having missed out on one target in John Ridgeway, who went from Illinois State to Arkansas.
Fifth-year tackle Mason Cholewa could get a look after entering the transfer portal recently. He began at Central Florida before moving to James Madison last year. Other players who could get looks include Buffalo’s Ron McGee, Akron’s John Mitchell and others.
Defensive tackle will be a major point of emphasis for USC in the 2022 recruiting class, and the Trojans are chasing some big-time prospects, including five-star Mykel Williams (Columbus, Ga./Hardaway), four-star Christen Miller (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove), four-star Anthony Lucas (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral), four-star Hero Kanu (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita), four-star Chris McClellan (Owasso, Okla./Owasso), four-star Dejon Roney (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Etiwanda) and three-stars Ben Roberts (Salt Lake City/East) and Sir Mells (Henderson, Nev./Liberty).