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Five-star quarterback Malachi Nelson follows Lincoln Riley to USC following decommitment from Oklahoma

The first domino of Lincoln Riley’s departure has fallen, and Nelson is following the coach to USC.

Quarterback Malachi Nelson (7), of Los Alamitos, attempts a pass pressured by Ryan Zolnick (10), Santa Margarita, in the first half at Saddleback College Stadium on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Mission Viejo, CA. Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Update: Nelson, who originally committed to Riley, is staying with his coach. He’s joining Riley at USC. This hire is already having a strong effect on the recruiting trail, with the state’s top quarterback (and nation’s second) according to staying home.

It didn’t take long for the first recruiting domino of Lincoln Riley’s departure from Oklahoma to USC to fall. Five-star quarterback Malachi Nelson, who was committed to the Sooners and Riley, has decided to de-commit from the program and re-open his recruitment. Here’s the player’s full statement.

According to, Nelson is the second-best quarterback recruit in the country for his class and the best in his state. That state happens to be California, and his high school Los Alamitos happens to be 25 miles south of Los Angeles. It doesn’t take a lot to connect the dots here and wonder where Nelson might end up.

Recruiting has never been an issue at USC, even in the Clay Helton era. The former coach was pulling in top-10 recruiting classes built heavily around in-state kids but just failed to win enough games. Riley is a far more competent offensive coach and will be able to maintain SC’s recruiting prowess. This is already turning out to be a strong hire by the Trojans.