What can USC football fans expect from Jacob Lichtenstein opting back in?

USC football defensive lineman Jacob Lichtenstein. (Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports)
USC football defensive lineman Jacob Lichtenstein. (Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports) /

USC football will get defensive lineman Jacob Lichtenstein back from opt-out

USC football’s defensive line is getting a boost in the very near future, head coach Clay Helton confirmed on Thursday.

Jacob Lichtenstein, who opted out of the 2020 season earlier this fall, is coming back to join the Trojans for the rest of the campaign.

The redshirt junior was expected to compete for time in the rotation this year after sitting out the 2019 season because of a sports hernia.

USC fans won’t see him on Saturday against Utah, but he should be back on the practice field by next week with a chance to play against Colorado.

Jacob Lichtenstein is more than just a body for USC football

Lichtenstein isn’t a household name, but he has a chance to make himself an integral part of USC’s defensive line this year.

He’ll obviously add some needed depth with Caleb Tremblay dealing with stingers and the line in general featuring more freshmen than veterans.

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However, don’t underestimate his potential to be far more than depth.

He had a bright finish to the 2018 season when he started twice, including a six-tackle performance against Cal with a tackle for loss. His clear potential was intriguing, to say the least, but he hasn’t been seen since because of injury.

His Instagram over the summer revealed a physical transformation that spoke to his work ethic. Chris Steele even highlighted him as someone who impressed the quarterback after the COVID-19 shutdown.

Now Lichtenstein will have an opportunity to show what he’s got.

It’ll have to be an accelerated process getting him integrated in the new scheme. Still, the progression of Marlon Tuipulotu and Nick Figueroa under defensive line coach Vic So’oto makes it all the more exciting to consider Lichtenstein’s potential.

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At the very least, USC will look to see Lichtenstein use the remainder of this campaign as a spring board into next year.

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