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Lincoln Riley addresses reports of USC attempting to sign DJ Lagway

IMG_0985by:Griffin McVeigh12/21/23

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USC Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley | Early National Signing Day Class of 2024

When Malachi Nelson entered the NCAA transfer portal, USC felt the need to go out there a get a young quarterback. Lincoln Riley was already working on Will Howard out of the portal. But a young buck was needed to be considered the program’s future.

Reports surfaced of Riley making a late push for Five-Star Plus+ QB DJ Lagway on National Signing Day. Committed to Florida at the time, Lagway stuck with his word and will begin his college career in Gainesville in the near future.

Since USC wound up not signing Lagway, he is not allowed to specifically comment on the player. However, he did say the Trojans were in the market for a young quarterback.

“I don’t think I can talk about anybody we didn’t sign for a rules standpoint,” Riley said. “But we’re not moving too fast on this. Obviously, the Malachi thing, it was a surprise to us and who we take as that young quarterback is an important decision for this program. It’s really important and there are so many options here.”

Riley mentioned a ton of options being out there but USC is not willing to take anyone. There is a scenario, even if unlikely, where a true freshman has to be the starter at some point next season. If USC took a developmental recruit, he would not be ready to step on the field.

Taking somebody, like Lagway, maybe would have given the staff more confidence with the hypothetical early playing time.

“You got to take the right one because the person that takes this could be in a pretty unique position pretty quick,” Riley said. “A pretty advantageous position very quick. It’s certainly important.”

Lagway played high school football at Willis (TX) High School, where he was a Five-Star Plus+ prospect. He was the No. 10 overall recruit in the 2024 cycle, according to the On3 Industry Rankings, a weighted average that utilizes all four major recruiting media companies.

USC was not the only school reportedly attempting to flip Lagway, with Mike Elko and Texas A&M trying to make a splash. Those two ultimately came up short, with Billy Napier taking a big sigh of relief.

The Early Signing Period has not yet close but at the time being, USC has not signed a quarterback. The Trojans’ 2024 class ranks No. 18 in the country and No. 5 when compared to their future Big Ten opponents.