College Football

Travis Dye commits to USC: Trojans add dynamic former Oregon RB as Lincoln Riley loads up first-year roster


USC has landed another big-time transfer player, and this time it’s at the expense of a Pac-12 rival. Former Oregon running back Travis Dye has committed to join the Trojans and first-year coach Lincoln Riley, the school announced Friday on Twitter

Dye has proven to be one of the most dynamic players in the Pac-12 throughout his career, rushing for 3,111 yards and 21 touchdowns in four seasons with the Ducks — including 1,271 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2021. What’s more, Dye caught 83 passes for 869 yards and eight touchdowns since the start of 2018 while breaking out as one of the top multi-purpose players in the country.

He was the No. 21 player in the 247Sports transfer portal rankings, and the third-ranked running back behind Jahmyr Gibbs (Georgia Tech to Alabama) and Zach Evans (TCU to Ole Miss). 

Dye entered the transfer portal on Jan. 14, four days after first-year Oregon coach Dan Lanning finished up his time as the defensive coordinator at Georgia with a national championship win over Alabama. He will join a USC program led by Riley that has been a force on the recruiting trail and in the transfer portal this offseason.

What are the key takeaways from the news that Dye will be a Trojan?

USC might be the preseason Pac-12 favorite

USC can win the Pac-12 next season. In fact, it probably should win the conference with the number of immediate impact transfer players coming in, Dye included. 

The Trojans had a hole at running back following Keaontay Ingram’s departure to the NFL. He accounted for 52% of the Trojans rushing production last year, and Riley needs a reliable back to shoulder the load. Dye has proven that he can be that guy. 

Four of the team’s top five receivers are back, all of which took on more responsibility when Drake London’s season was cut short in the middle of Week 8 win over Arizona. When you throw Dye into that mix, there’s much-needed versatility for Riley to work with heading into his first year at the helm. Yes, the quarterback position is a question (at least for now), but there’s no doubt that Riley has a great foundation of offensive weapons. 

What other Pac-12 team can boast that kind of potential? Riley is setting the scene for a turnaround that’s faster than a Hollywood car chase scene.

The attraction to Riley is real

It’s one thing for Riley to lure players that he’s familiar with into the program. Former Oklahoma wide receiver Mario Williams and cornerback Latrell McCutchin already followed their former coach to Los Angeles. Plus, ex-Oklahoma commits like five-star quarterback Malachi Nelson – the No. 2 overall player in the 2023 recruiting class — and five-star athlete Makai Lemon decommitted from the Sooners and pledged to Riley shortly after he took the job.

It’s an entirely different thing for Riley to get an established star from a top-tier program within the same conference. Riley has basically turned major college programs into a USC farm system via the portal. Dye is just the latest offensive stud to announce a transfer into the program. 

This is exactly why he was hired. Riley has rapidly transformed USC into the kind of program where blue-chip players want to be, just like it was under Pete Carroll shortly before the Trojans became a super-power in the mid-2000s. Carson Palmer, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart bought in to Carroll’s vision early on, and it seems like Riley is following that same path.

What about quarterback?

Offensive players clearly gravitate toward Riley, but the one position that hasn’t been filled yet is quarterback. Kedon Slovis and Jaxson Dart — both of whom started games last year for former coach Clay Helton — have transferred out of the program. All eyes have been on ex-Oklahoma starter Caleb Williams, who has yet to announce his future destination. 

It isn’t difficult to connect the dots. The wave of transfer news that has recently come out of USC is building toward something enormous. Williams would complete the puzzle and giving Riley a signal-caller who can not only distribute the ball, but be a force on the ground alongside Dye.


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