5-Star QB Malachi Nelson Decommits from Oklahoma After Lincoln Riley Hired as USC HC

Erin WalshNovember 29, 2021

MISSION VIEJO, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Quarterback Malachi Nelson (7), of Los Alamitos, during a game against Santa Margarita in the first half at Saddleback College Stadium on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021 in Mission Viejo, CA. (Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Five-star quarterback Malachi Nelson announced his decommitment from Oklahoma on Sunday following the news that Lincoln Riley has taken the head coaching job at USC.

Nelson, a 6'3", 180-pound quarterback out of Los Alamitos, California, said in his announcement that he's not opening up his recruitment and just wants "to see how everything transpires."

Nelson committed to Oklahoma in July. He said one of the things that impacted his decision to join the Sooners was the coaching staff and "their ability to develop the QB position." 

Oklahoma has become a hot spot for 5-star quarterbacks over the last few years. Spencer Rattler entered in 2019, followed by Caleb Williams in 2021, and Nelson was the next in line for 2023. It's unclear what the future holds for the Sooners at the position.

The quarterback is the second overall recruit in the class of 2023 and the top recruit out of California, per 247Sports' composite rating. He is also the second-ranked quarterback behind Isidore Newman's Arch Manning.

In addition to Oklahoma, Nelson considered USC, Alabama, Arizona and Arizona State. It's reasonable to believe he'll reconsider joining the Trojans given Riley's hiring. 

The news of Riley's shocking decision to become the next head coach at USC broke Sunday afternoon. He had been head coach of the Sooners since 2017 and compiled a 55-10 record in his five seasons at the helm. Oklahoma won the Big 12 in his first four seasons as head coach, and he also led the team to three College Football Playoff appearances.

In addition to Nelson, Oklahoma lost commitments from 2023 5-star wide receiver Brandon Inniss (No. 9 in 247Sports' composite rating) and 2023 4-star running back Treyaun Webb (No. 96 in 247Sports' composite rating) on Sunday. Inniss said he was reopening his recruitment, while Webb said his decision to decommit from Oklahoma was "due to the recent changes." 

As well, 2022 5-star running back Raleek Brown told ESPN on Sunday, before Riley was announced as head coach of the Trojans, that the coach's decision would impact his recruitment.

"That changes everything," he said. "I had a good relationship with all [the Oklahoma coaches], so that will really change everything."

Like Nelson, USC was also of interest to Brown before he committed to Oklahoma, ESPN noted.

With several decommitments and other recruits likely weighing their options, Oklahoma is in for one of its biggest head coaching searches in school history, and a lot will ride on who the program selects to replace Riley.