Already waif thin at the tight end position, USC has seen that group take yet another, potentially significant blow.
While the initial reports that Bryce Dixon had been dismissed proved incorrect, head coach Steve Sarkisian did confirm that the true sophomore was not a participant in the first day of spring practice Tuesday because of what was only described as an unspecified student-conduct issue. The Los Angeles Times wrote that “Sarkisian declined to say more about it, citing privacy laws and instruction from the university’s general counsel.”
A source close to the situation told me not to draw any conclusions just yet, that it’s a fluid situation and that Dixon has to go through a process. (The latter sounded an awful lot like the Josh Shaw deal from last year.) That same source could not estimate how long Dixon would be away from the team.
Thanks to the expired eligibility of starter Randall Telfer, Dixon, who was suspended for the Cal game last year because of an unspecified student-conduct issue, is one of two scholarship tight ends currently on the Trojans roster. The other, Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick, was academically ineligible for the entire 2014 season and his status for the upcoming season has yet to be determined, even though he is currently participating in spring practice.
Walk-on Connor Spears is also available this spring, while four-star 2015 signee Tyler Petite will join the Trojans in time for summer camp.
The 6-4, 240-pound Dixon, though, is easily USC’s most talented returning tight end. Last season as a true freshman, Dixon caught 14 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns, the latter total of which was tied for second on the team. He ended the year on a high as he grabbed a season-high four receptions for 44 yards in the Holiday Bowl win over Nebraska.