USC lands commitment from 4-star Rivals250 CB Philip Riley
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A very strong USC defensive back class got even stronger Monday as 4-star Rivals250 cornerback Philip Riley (Valrico, Fla.) announced his commitment to the Trojans, just days after de-committing from Notre Dame.
Score another major recruiting win for Trojans cornerbacks coach Donte Williams on this one.
Riley was a top USC target earlier this recruiting cycle before committing to the Fighting Irish on May 5. He backed off that pledge on Friday, and the buzz quickly started mounting that the Trojans were positioned as the new favorite.
Riley, who is originally from the West Coast and played for the elite FSP 7-on-7 team out of Washington, made it official Monday.
"Coach Donte was a big reason, seeing what he has done with DBs and who he has produced," Riley told TrojanSports.com. "Also, he has kept it real with me from the beginning and we have a great personal relationship. Another thing was the academics at USC [are] elite, which can benefit me for life. ... Also, I am from the West Coast and I have a ton of family over there."
USC offered Riley not long after Williams arrived in February. The cornerback prospect made it clear then that he was interested in the Trojans and the opportunity to return back west, as he is from the state of Washington and had recently moved to Florida in December of 2018 with his family.
But then the national recruiting shutdown happened, preventing schools from hosting prospects on visits and the Trojans weren't able to build any momentum with Riley at the time.
Instead, he landed initially at Notre Dame -- despite not having taken a visit there either --- and he was the Fighting Irish's highest-ranked DB recruit in this class until his de-commitment.
Safe to say, Williams never relented in his pursuit, and the Trojans now have six 4-star defensive backs committed in this 2021 class.
"Coach Donte texted me every day. We called and we FaceTime[d] to talk football," Riley said. "I feel like I rushed into that [Notre Dame] commitment without thinking it all the way through because of the COVID situation."
Williams' other surprising recruiting victory this cycle was landing 4-star Northern California cornerback Prophet Brown (ranked the No. 7 CB and No. 109 overall prospect) away from Oklahoma and others. The Trojans also have a commitment from 4-star Bishop Alemany HS ATH Jaylin Smith (No. 6 ATH, No. 206 overall), who projects as a likely nickel corner but is versatile enough to move around the secondary. Riley joins that group as the No. 24 cornerback and No. 241 overall prospect in this class. He said Williams has talked to him about playing the boundary corner position.
Meanwhile, USC landed three early safety commits as safeties coach Craig Naivar also made his mark, with help on a couple from Williams. That group includes Muir HS standout Calen Bullock (No. 7 S, No. 122 overall), Warren HS star Xamarion Gordon (No. 14 S, No. 231 overall) and 4-star Narbonne HS safety Anthony Beavers, who flipped from an initial commitment to Oregon.
"I have a good relationship with a couple of players on the team and some of the recruits -- we are all like-minded," Riley said. "... I talked to Kyle Ford and Chris Steele and Markese Stepp, and Julien Simon I knew him for a long time [as] teammates at FSP."
As strong as the DB group is, USC is still pursuing local 4-star Rivals100 cornerback Ceyair Wright (Loyola HS) as well.
Overall, Riley is USC's first 2021 commitment since Brown in July, and he gives the Trojans 19 public commitments, including 15 4-star prospects.