USC football has the best roster in the Pac-12 coming into 2022. First off, they already had a talented roster. (In fact, that's obviously why other Pac-12 fans wouldn't stop talking about how much the roster underachieved last season.)
Since Lincoln Riley was hired, however, the 2022 overall recruiting class (recruits + transfers) went from outside the top 100 to number SIX in the country. That beat second-place in the Pac-12, Oregon, by TEN spots.
Dominating the transfer portal, Riley brought in two five-star transfers and five four-star transfers to lock up the No. 1 transfer portal class in the country by a landslide.
USC's offense is exponentially better than the rest of the conference's. It features a top three QB in football, an elite RB, the best WR in football, two more four-star transfers starting out wide, and four starters returning on the No. 1-rated offensive line in the country last year (PFF).
Athlon Sports has most certainly taken notice of how strong USC football's roster is compared to the rest of the Pac-12.
USC football is the only program in the Pac-12 that received five selections from Athlon Sports' 'Pac-12 Football 2022 All-Conference First-Team,' other than Utah.
They put the elite QB in Caleb Williams there, they have the 2021 Biletnikoff winner in Jordan Addison there, they have Oregon's RB1 that USC poached in the offseason there, and they also included USC LG Andrew Vorhees and USC DL Tuli Tuipulotu on the first team.
Vorhees only allowed one sack all year last year. He was also the only lineman in the country to receive at least a 90 blocking PFF grade in both run blocking AND pass blocking. As for Tuipulotu, he just posted 48 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, two PD's, and a scoop and score in 2021.
Utah also had five selections, but their overall roster talent of course isn't as high as USC's--which is evidenced by their recruiting rankings. Below are the two program's recruiting rankings of the past six years. On the left are USC's national ranks, and on the right are Utah's:
This roster is absolutely loaded compared to even the Pac-12 favorite in Utah this year. The roster is even better. Does that mean USC should be the favorite? Well, maybe not. Year 1 under a new head coach is always code for many growing pains--even if the coach is as good as Riley.
It is, however, tremendous that SC's roster is in this good of shape even with a head coach being fired after two games last year and having what was probably the worst recruiting class in USC history in 2020--due to recruits thinking USC was going to fire that head coach after the 2019 season.
This All-Conference team is a brilliant reminder of just how impressive USC's roster is heading into the 2022 season. While it's offense-heavy, SC does have one of the best defensive linemen in the conference, and has the offense to get ahead early and often regardless of if the defense is one of the better groups in the country or not.