Why USC football fans shouldn’t panic after Justus Terry’s withdrawal

On Wednesday, defensive lineman Justus Terry announced his dismissal from USC’s 2025 class. The five-star player from Manchester (GA) is the Trojans’ second release in two days. On Tuesday, five-star defensive lineman Isaiah Gibson reopened his recruitment.

Both players had been committed to Lincoln Riley’s program since March, but neither officially visited the USC campus.

Naturally, social media was immediately ablaze, with rival fans mocking USC and some Trojans fans voicing their concerns. Losing a few five-star recruits in 48 hours isn’t ideal, but it’s still very early in the 2025 college football recruiting cycle.

As I said yesterday about Gibson, it’s not surprising that a five-star player from Georgia would withdraw from a Southern California program in June. Furthermore, the recent history of the recruiting cycle has taught us to be cautious with early verbal commitments from players. Players’ minds change several times during a recruiting cycle, especially after experiencing the hoopla on campus during official visits.

I think Terry and Gibson believed Eric Henderson’s vision for the USC defense and were excited about the prospect of playing in Los Angeles. However, Coach Henny’s message lost its luster as time passed. Plus, reality has probably crept in for a few young men born and raised in the Southeast.

Some fans on Twitter/X have speculated that USC has a NIL problem. So Terry and Gibson backed out of their commitments. I’m no NIL insider, but I highly doubt there is a money problem at a university whose endowments grew by $330 million between fiscal years 2022 and 2023.

We hear stories of top high school recruits receiving multi-million dollar NIL deals in exchange for their commitments. We know this applies to some players from the 2022 and 2023 recruiting classes, but such offers are rare and typically apply to quarterbacks. Does Julian Lewis have a lucrative NIL deal to sign with USC? Maybe.

The Trojans, like most programs, remain tight-lipped about their NIL transactions. However, USC’s move to join the Big Ten is an important step toward making more money.

Riley’s program was among college football’s top 10 teams in terms of profitability for 2022. Ohio State topped the list with $251 million in athletic department revenue. The list included the top programs from the Big Ten and SEC, with the exception of Texas and Oklahoma, now SEC schools.

As for the 2025 recruiting cycle, I would advise USC fans not to get attached to committed players until National Signing Day in December.

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