USC football recruiting: Lincoln Riley misses out on key target for defensive line

USC football lost the recruiting battle for Cyrus Moss to Miami.
USC football lost the recruiting battle for Cyrus Moss to Miami. / Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

No matter what Lincoln Riley does with USC football’s offense in 2022, he needs the Trojan defense to make huge strides if he plans to win many games.

So while USC picked up a huge commitment from wide receiver C.J. Williams at the All-America Bowl on Saturday, the Trojans will be disappointed to leave empty-handed on the defensive side of the ball. 

Along with Williams, four-star edge rusher Cyrus Moss was among the USC targets that announced a pledge at the All-America Bowl. Moss picked Miami over USC, Oregon and Arizona State.

USC football recruiting: Trojans lost recruiting battle for Cyrus Moss

Moss ranked No. 63 in the 247Sports composite as a 6-foot-6, 220-pound edge defender out of Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas. He visited USC in December as one of the recruits who reconsidered the Trojans thanks to the Lincoln Riley hire.

His original intention was to sign his national letter of intent during the early signing period, but he delayed his decision to the All-America Bowl. He was also supposed to play in the showcase game but he tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the week and had to sit out.

It’s clear his relationship with former Oregon head coach Mario Cristobal and his staff was strong enough to draw him towards Miami. The Trojans turned his head but longstanding relationships won out.

Losing Moss was a missed opportunity for the Trojans, though it shouldn’t come at too big of a surprise since USC’s defensive line coaching situation isn’t particularly clear. Oklahoma’s Jamar Cain was supposed to follow Riley to Los Angeles before deciding to take a job with LSU. The Trojans rallied by reportedly hiring Shaun Nua from Michigan but the timeline for hiring and recruiting hasn’t worked in USC’s favor.

On the plus side, the Trojans are expected to bring in a small recruiting class with more additions likely to come from the transfer portal.

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Riley has already proven capable of finding a strong replacement for assistant coaching candidates. He’ll have to do the same on the recruiting trail to make up for these misses.