USC signed the nation’s No. 1 defensive lineman in the 2021 class in No. 1 overall prospect Korey Foreman, and the Trojans continue to stick around in the race for the nation’s No 1 defensive lineman in the 2022 class, five-star defensive tackle Walter Nolen (Cordova, Tenn./St. Benedict at Auburndale).
The 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive tackle announced his top 8 schools on Friday, which featured some juggling from the top 10 list he announced in early February.
Out went Auburn, Clemson and Tennessee from the initial list of 10, and on came Georgia. Still listed is Alabama, Florida, LSU, Michigan, Ohio State, Oregon and USC.
Nolen still has to be considered a longshot for USC, although the lineman has mentioned a potential trip to Los Angeles to give the school a better look. The fact that he continues to include both Oregon and USC from the Pac-12, as well as in-state Tennessee no longer appearing on his list is a good sign for the Trojans in that Nolen appears comfortable leaving home. But Alabama, LSU, Michigan and Ohio State are all schools that have made strong impressions, and Oregon won’t go away quietly either.
USC helped itself at defensive tackle in the 2021 class, landing four-star Jay Toia and getting former Alabama lineman Ishmael Sopsher out of the transfer portal. Sopsher will miss all or most of spring ball after undergoing surgery for compartment syndrome, but will hopefully be healthy for this fall and has several years of eligibility left.
The Trojans are going after several national defensive tackles this season, including two from Georgia in four-stars Mykel Williams (Columbus, Ga./Hardaway) and Christen Miller (Ellenwood, Ga./Cedar Grove), but USC does have two very good ones right in its backyard now, as four-star Dejon Roney (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Etiwanda) has been a known commodity for a while, and USC is now involved with fast-rising Hero Kanu (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif./Santa Margarita), an extremely intriguing transfer from Germany. Four-star Anthony Lucas (Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral) is another West region target for the interior of the defensive line.
USC does not have a defensive lineman committed yet in the 2022 class. Last season, the Trojans signed three-star defensive end Colin Mobley in addition to Foreman, Toia and Sopsher up front.