Austin Jones decides to return to USC for 2023 season, creating a stacked running back room

Oh, my goodness. USC’s running back room for 2023 just became that much bigger and better.

Earlier on Friday, South Carolina running back MarShawn Lloyd — who had entered the transfer portal — announced that he was heading to Los Angeles to join the Trojans and Lincoln Riley. One might have reasonably concluded that with Lloyd in the fold, Austin Jones had either already made up his mind to go to the NFL or would soon announce a decision to enter the pros.

Instead, Jones decided to stay.

Jones’ decision to play for USC in 2023 gives the Men of Troy an absolutely loaded running back room. Not only is Lloyd in the mix as a bruising, between-the-tackles running back; Jones joins him as a tough veteran who will get crucial yards after contact and give USC the depth it didn’t quite have at the position in 2022. Lincoln Riley didn’t give Jones a heavy workload partly because he had concerns about Jones’ pass blocking, but with Raleek Brown being a freshman who was slowly integrated into the offense, it’s not as though USC had a lot of second or third options in the backfield this past season.

Now, with Brown having a year under his belt, Lloyd arriving, and Jones staying, Lincoln Riley can balance the workload among these three featured backs, and that doesn’t even include Darwin Barlow or the other newcomers at the position. USC has clearly upgraded its running back room.

Now we just need some defense.

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Story originally appeared on Trojans Wire