USC Trojans News: Shane Lee's decision, Tuli Tuipulotu's bowl status, more
USC Football Linebacker Shane Lee has officially announced that he will be coming back to play for the Trojans next season. Next year will be Lee's fifth season as a college football player, and his second with USC Football. Lee confirmed this on Friday, and this is important news for the Trojan program.
That's because while some local media and fans called out Lee for not performing up to how they expected, and often pointing out that they thought he was underwhelming in pass coverage, Lee still at least serves as tremendous depth for a linebacking crew that has very little depth. He still had two interceptions this year (one for six as well), 76 tackles, and 6.5 tackles for loss.
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While DL Tuli Tuipulotu has not made a decision on whether he will be returning to college football or not, he announced on Friday that he will indeed be playing in the Cotton Bowl with USC Football on January 2nd. This is major news for the Trojans, as Tuipulotu was a unanimous First-Team All-American this season.
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It would be tough to replace Tuipulotu's production in the Cotton Bowl if he wasn't going to be playing. Tuipulotu led the Power 5 with 21 tackles for loss, and he led the entire country with 12.5 sacks. He played all of Defensive Tackle, Defensive End, and even some Mike Linebacker for the Trojans this season. He also chipped in 44 tackles, three PDs, and two forced fumbles with SC this season.
One of the top Defensive Line transfers and major USC Football transfer target, Josaiah Stewart, has officially transferred to Michigan. Stewart would likely start for the Trojans if he transferred here instead. In his two years of college football, Stewart has tallied 79 tackles and 26 tackles for loss. He also has recorded four forced fumbles.
Stewart did, however, regress in his second season this past year. He went from 43 tackles in 2021 to 36 tackles in 2022. He also went from 16 tackles for loss in 2021 to 10 in 2022. He had 13 sacks his freshman year. He had just 3.5 in his sophomore year.
Stewart forced three fumbles in his first year at Coastal Carolina, but just one in his second. Perhaps SC can find similar production elsewhere either in the portal or via high school recruiting.