It was 2018 when USC football signed Eli'jah Winston out of Central Catholic in Portland, Oregon. A four-star prospect (all recruiting ratings and rankings in article are as of 247Sports), he brought a lot of excitement to a then-talented LB room. He was the No. 6 overall recruit in Oregon, and the No. 21 Inside Linebacker in all of America.
That excitement quickly faded, however, after his first couple of years went by and he only tallied six games played. He only made nine tackles in those six games, and just one for loss. Not playing at all in 2020, it only got worse. Then in 2021, he appeared in just one game--making just one tackle.
Working out at Rush End this spring, he was likely to be behind both new Auburn transfer linebacker Romello Height as well as the now-healthy Solomon Tuliaupupu. Lincoln Riley and co. were probably fine with keeping him around, as they kept him for the spring. He entered the transfer portal, however, on Tuesday.
He likely chose to explore his options after realizing that he will be third in line for snaps. Winston's got great size at 6'3", 240 pounds and will hope another Power 5 school will take a chance on him. There's a good shot it happens, due to how highly-touted he was out of high school.
Ex-USC Football Linebacker Eli'jah Winston is listed as a four-star transfer prospect by 247Sports.
Perhaps Eli'jah Winston will be leaving USC football to go to Oregon. Oregon was where Winston was originally committed to, and it's obviously closer to home. Other west coast programs that could be in the mix could be UCLA, Utah, Washington State, and Colorado. They all offered him in high school.
Perhaps he's on his way to USC's rival Notre Dame. They were the only non-west coast program to offer him per 247Sports. Clearly, they were interested back when he was a recruit. It's unclear, however, whether they're still into him now.
There's not much of a word yet on where he's headed, but for what it's worth, the three programs he visited back in high school were USC, UCLA, and Oregon. Maybe his interest still lies across town or with the Ducks.
SC had a very tough time developing linebackers in the past few years, and if the program wants to claw back to national prominence, linebacker development will need to be an area of emphasis for Alex Grinch and his staff.