Long Beach Poly class of 2024 linebacker Dylan Williams announced his commitment to USC on Monday morning, adding his name to the long and storied list of Jackrabbit/Trojans.
“It’s been crazy, it’s been a fun day,” said Williams, a four-star 6-3 linebacker rated the No. 14 LB in the 2024 class by 247 sports. Williams is athletic and physical and has been running the hurdles for Poly’s track team this Spring.
The history of the Long Beach Poly/USC football pipeline is a century old and spans several eras of excellence for both programs.
Al Davis was USC’s Poly recruiter when he was an assistant coach before he was the owner of the Raiders; Ed Orgeron was USC’s Poly recruiter before he became a national championship coach at LSU. The Trojans have even recruited Poly coaches, hiring Dave Levy away from his alma mater in 1960 after Levy coached Poly to a CIF-SS championship in 1959 (Levy would go on to coach at USC for 16 seasons under John McKay and help USC to four national titles during his Hall of Fame career).
In every era of Trojan success, there have been Jackrabbits starring for them, from Roy Baker (1920s) to Quentin Klenk (1940s) to Bill Jessup (1950s) to Willie Brown, Earl McCullouch and Jeff Smith (1960s) to James McDonald (1980s) to Mark Carrier and Willie McGinest (1990s) to Kareem Kelly, Darnell Bing, Hershel Dennis, Manuel Wright, and Winston Justice (2000s) to Jurrell Casey, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Iman “Biggie” Marshall, and Jack Jones (2010s).
In all, almost 20 Jackrabbits have gone from 1600 Atlantic to the Coliseum to the NFL, an astoundingly consistent path to the pros that dates back a hundred years.
New USC coach Lincoln Riley knows his history, and seems intent on re-establishing a connection with Long Beach that had fallen to the wayside under coach Clay Helton, who many in the inner city areas of LB felt neglected that connection. Poly was one of Riley’s first stops after being hired at USC, and Williams said he understood his priorities.
“He came down here the first day and he told me he wanted to let me know man to man that he’s going to rebuild USC by getting the Poly guys back, starting with me and Daylen (Austin, a highly rated defensive back at the school),” said Williams. “That means a lot to me.”
Williams may only be a sophomore in high school, but he knows his history--he said he’s heard plenty of stories about Poly players going to USC from head coach Stephen Barbee and DBs coach Rashad Wadood. When sophomore receiver Jason Robinson committed to the Trojans earlier this school year, it sparked Williams’ interest even further.
“I’m trying to start it back up, me and Jason,” he said. “Coach has stayed interested and recruited me really hard, they let me know that I’m a priority for them at linebacker and that they value us in Long Beach.”
Williams said USC has been more and more appealing as he’s gone through the recruiting process, and that he appreciated how down to earth Riley was in conversations with he and his parents and sister. He said those conversations helped him decide to commit early instead of dragging the process out for another year or two.
“My junior year is coming up, I’m locked in with USC, I’m good there,” he said. “It’s home. Now I can just focus on high school ball and building up a recruiting class.”
Williams could certainly find plenty of talent to recruit on his own campus alone. Robinson is already committed to the Trojans, making it Poly’s first team with two future Trojans in a decade, and QB Nico Iamaleava is committed to Tennessee. There are plenty of other marquee talents, including the highly-ranked Austin, who has yet to make a college decision as he approaches his senior year.