USC football roster: How NCAA eligibility relief will impact scholarship math

USC football at the Coliseum. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
USC football at the Coliseum. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

USC football will have to navigate a bloated roster, but scholarship numbers in 2021 should be fine.

USC football is going to have an interesting roster in 2021.

That’s because the NCAA is on the verge of giving all college football players eligibility relief for the 2020 season, whether it’s played in 2020 or spring of 2021.

The result could mean a massive roster for the Trojans and everyone else in college football. Fortunately for USC, they shouldn’t have to worry about scholarship numbers getting out of hand.

How will the USC football roster be impacted going forward?

Scholarship math can get complicated, but the NCAA may have a solution to simplify things.

According to Nicole Aubebach of The Athletic, current seniors will not count against scholarship numbers in 2021.

READ MORE: Eligibility relief reportedly coming for CFB

USC currently has 17 seniors and redshirt seniors on the roster. It doesn’t really matter if they stay or move on because they won’t count against scholarship numbers for 2021.

The redshirt juniors and juniors will, however, factor in. The Trojans have 17 players in that category, minus Jay Tufele. The defensive lineman declared for the NFL Draft on Wednesday.

Assuming everyone comes back (more on potential early departures in a second), USC will carry 63 scholarship players, not counting seniors, onto the 2021 roster.

The 2021 recruiting class would then be limited to 22 scholarship places. The Trojans currently have 18 commits on the board.

Opportunities to fill more than just four scholarships for 2021 could come in the form of additional early departures.

Even if wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker play in the spring campaign, both are expected to leave for the NFL rather than playing the 2021 season.

The secondary could also take a big hit if Talanoa Hufanga, Isaiah Pola-Mao, Olaijah Griffin, Isaac Taylor-Stuart or others take their chance with the pros. However, each of those players would have been in question to return in 2021 even before the coronavirus pandemic took hold.

Whatever the numbers turn out to be the NCAA leaning towards exempting seniors from counting against the roster for 2021 should be enough for USC and others to stay under the 85-man limit. At most, the Trojans could field a team with 102 scholarship players, though that feels unlikely.

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For home games, it’ll mean a more crowded sideline. For road games though, it’ll be a bit more difficult to determine the 70-man travel squad.

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