The most difficult time of any new season is the camp sessions. Yes, the season has its own unique challenges depending on the performance week to week but camps are all about what we think we know and what we can't see. The secrecy of the practice sessions is what it is but hearing bits and pieces during the post-practice media events tend to sound very similar after a while. While Lincoln Riley has been a big boost in confidence in the program overall we are starting to see that his views are cautiously positive. A ton of shifting is going on with all the bi-directional events with the Transfer Portal (TP). The TP dynamic has been positive so far for USC. We lost a lot of players from the former coaches' recruitment but many of them needed to move on as the culture today is changing and they were very close to the old staff and thus culture. Hard to change that with just a change in head coaches. Time for a new direction and a fresh coat of paint on those lockers.
As spring camp winds down in the bottom third of the sessions left we are seeing a pattern of the TP player names showing up daily. They are making an impact per the reports each post-practice during the interview time. I find it refreshing that rehab island is not taking 15 minutes in Lincoln's opening remarks as it was with clueless Clay. I think there is a message right there. Players have a new sheriff in town. They may feel a bit off at times but know that camera time in spring camp is also a rating exercise on their performance and unknown potential to the new staff. Thus the easy jog or walk to rehab island is not as crowded as in seasons past.
We all would love to see more during live camp sessions. The reporters who are local have taken what they can get and provided outstanding coverages with limited access. I applaud them all. The most impressive news for my ears has been the overwhelming shift in recruiting and on-campus visits. The future is all about recruiting of course but with the TP in its present form, there are multiple strategies evolving on how to build a high-performance roster in today's college football program. I am a fan of the TP for the most part. But I think there need to be some deep dives to see how the Name Image Likeness all weaves together with the TP. This week we learned of a top offensive tackle from Vanderbilt announcing they are leaving for Alabama. How did this happen? Can a staff just start lobbing calls into other schools' rosters at will? A player just doesn't wake up and decide to leave one school for another, does it?