USC released its media guide and updated roster for the 2021 season, which means it's time to see what numbers the incoming freshmen and transfers will be wearing, which players changed numbers and/or positions and some tallies on players added and lost during the offseason.
The are number changes all over the place for returning players.
Safety Greg Johnson is now wearing No. 1, after wearing No. 9 last season.
Running back Vavae Malepeai is No. 6.
Cornerback Joshua Jackson Jr. is now wearing No. 23, after he wore No. 6 as a wide receiver last year and during the spring.
Quarterback Mo Hasan moves from No. 10 to No. 30, though he will miss the upcoming season while recovering from an ACL tear.
Linebacker Kaulana Makaula stays at inside linebacker, a position he moved to this past spring, and will now wear No. 35, a significant number for that position.
Offensive lineman Casey Collier is No. 51, after he wore No. 69 last season.
Defensive lineman Maninoa Tufono is now wearing No. 95, moving from No. 45.
Incoming freshmen numbers
Many of the incoming freshmen took part in spring ball, so their numbers were already known, but he's a rundown of the entire 2021 recruiting class.
No. 0 - DL Korey Foreman
No. 2 - QB Jaxson Dart
No. 2 - CB Ceyair Wright
No. 7 - QB Miller Moss
No. 8 - TE Michael Trigg
No. 9 - OLB Raesjon Davis
No. 10 - WR Kyron Ware-Hudson
No. 13 - WR Michael Jackson III
No. 14 - Joseph Manjack IV
No. 15 - S Anthony Beavers Jr.
No. 16 - CB Prophet Brown
No. 19 - S Jaylin Smith
No. 24 - LB Julien Simon
No. 25 - RB Brandon Campbell
No. 27 - S Calen Bullock
No. 28 - S Xamarion Gordon
No. 60 - OL Maximus Gibbs
No. 75 - OL Ty Buchanan
No. 76 - OL Mason Murphy
No. 87 - TE Lake McRee
No. 90 - DL Colin Mobley
Incoming transfer numbers
USC signed ten transfers this offseason, including nine who will be on scholarship and four who were on the spring roster.
No. 16 - WR Tahj Washington
No. 19 - TE Malcolm Epps
No. 21 - WR K.D. Nixon
No. 22 - RB Darwin Barlow
No. 28 - RB Keaontay Ingram
No. 29 - S Xavion Alford
No. 29 - QB Brendan Costello
No. 30 - S Chris Thompson Jr.
No. 42 - DL Ishmael Sopsher
No. 82 - WR Jack Smith
There are 26 players not returning from the 2020 roster. Many of the heavy contributors were lost to the NFL draft, while running backs Stephen Carr and Markese Stepp had announced transfers to Indiana and Nebraska, respectively. Offensive tackle Bernard Schirmer is the only scholarship player listed who hadn't previously been accounted for as landing somewhere else.
Linebacker Palaie Gaoteote will reportedly start his Ohio State career as a walk-on this fall and defensive linemen Connor Murphy (UNLV) and Caleb Tremblay (Tennessee) had announced their moves as well.
A number of USC players missed all or parts of spring ball and the roster and bio updates did little to alleviate those concerns for several players.
Incoming defensive tackle Ishmael Sopsher needs to play a huge role for the Trojans this season in the middle of the defensive line, but he sat out spring while recovering from compartment syndrome surgery. He has not seemed to be active for USC's summer conditioning sessions and his bio now states, "He missed 2021 spring practice with a leg injury and could be limited in 2021."
The "could be limited in 2021" tag also applies to linebacker Jordan Iosefa, whose 2019 and 2020 seasons were wiped out by a knee injury and additional surgery. He also missed spring ball.
Fingers are crossed that linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu can return to full health and fulfill the massive potential with which he arrived at USC. He's been healthy for seemingly only a handful of days after getting to USC as part of the 2018 class and he sat out spring ball. USC will surely take every precaution with Tuliaupupu and won't rush him back onto the field until he is fully ready. The line from his bio says that Tuliaupupu will look to get back into the mix at inside linebacker, "once he is fully healthy as a junior in 2021"
On the plus side, tight end Ethan Rae has seemingly been given a clear bill of health and could be a factor in the tight end position. Similarly, linebacker Tayler Katoa does not have an injury note after he missed all of spring ball while recovering from a knee injury. He hasn't played football in four years due to injuries and a Mormon mission, so just gettin him on the field and back into the swing of things at this level will be a big step.
The returning starters numbers are unusually high for programs across the country thanks to the extra year of eligibility coming out of the 2020 season. USC officially returns eight starters on offense, eight starters on defense, and both specialists.