Duce Robinson gives USC passing attack another home run threat
LOS ANGELES — The first portion of the USC football team’s practice on Thursday was held in perhaps the most fitting place for incoming freshman receiver/tight end Duce Robinson: the outfield of Dedeaux Field, where he plans to be snagging fly balls in the spring for the Trojans’ baseball team. Robinson was the top-ranked tight end recruit in the country and was likely passed over in the Major League Baseball draft due only to his commitment to USC. He garnered his first football scholarship offer before he ever played an organized game in pads and had already been approached to play college baseball at that point as well.
Robinson became just the fifth player to play in Under Armour’s All-America showcase games for both football and baseball. The first two players to accomplish that same feat went on to NFL stardom. A.
J. Brown put an ephemeral stint in the San Diego Padres’ organization behind him to become the Philadelphia Eagles’ single-season record holder for receiving yards. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray developed into the NFL’s top overall pick under USC coach Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma while he was also coveted highly by MLB teams.
“(Robinson) has been on the screen for many, many years now. He’s this big 6-6 kid, he’s a multi-sport kid who’s been (scouted by) the MLB and things like that and also being here at USC being a highly talented recruit,” said USC quarterback Caleb Williams, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. “He has all the reasons to be something that he’s not.
He’s a super humble kid, though he could be the complete opposite. He wants to learn and he enjoys ball. ” Robinson, who like all of Riley’s freshmen has not yet been made available to the media as a Trojan, has said Riley’s experience with Murray was a selling point in attracting him to USC after a neck-turning, jaw-dropping career at Pinnacle High in Phoenix.
He joined a recruiting class that also included five-star wideout Zachariah Branch among its yardage producers as well as three-star offensive linemen Alani Noa and Amos Talalele. Lineman Mason Murphy called the new weapons in the USC passing attack “incredible” and offered plaudits to his fellow yeomen in the trenches. “Alani and Amos are gonna rock the world,” Murphy declared, a sentiment echoed by another lineman, senior Cooper Lovelace, who marveled at Noa’s raw ability.
REINFORCEMENTS FROM AFAR The Trojans have national championship aspirations again this season and they plucked some key components from the transfer portal to bolster their prospects. Offensively, that included three experienced linemen, a tailback who could end up leading the team in carries and, for the second straight season, a likely No. 1 receiver.
After last year’s acquisition, former Pitt flanker Jordan Addison, ended up as a first-round draft pick of the Minnesota Vikings, USC turned to a player who torched the Trojans when he was with Arizona last season, Dorian Singer. “It feels really good. It’s so welcoming here.
From the first day here it was family-like. It’s really special, it’s really an honor to be wearing these colors, showcasing and competing for this institution,” Singer said. Singer also had some familiarity with Robinson, who was a sophomore playing on the varsity team at Pinnacle when Singer, who moved from Minnesota to Arizona in high school, was a senior there.
Just how close were they? “We were lined up next to each other,” said Singer, who was also quick to note that even teammates he’d met recently were warm and magnanimous. There has also been an infusion of transfer talent on defense, where USC’s nation-leading turnover differential belied its less impressive overall consistency and effectiveness last season. Though four Trojans landed in the NFL, the team hopes to be even deeper this season, and Singer offered a succinct description of what made USC alluring to him and other desirable players in the portal.
“Coach Riley’s vision, that was really it, his vision,” Singer said. .