Bryce Dixon Out At USC, Where Do Trojans Go From Here?


USC officially announced the departure of tight end Bryce Dixon Thursday evening, ending a saga which had clouded the picture at tight end since the start of spring ball.

RELATED: How big of a loss is Bryce Dixon?

Where does that leave USC on the tight end front?

Right where it was at the start of last season when Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick was declared academically ineligible. Except this time the loss seems permanent.

As it stands, the Trojans have just three scholarship tight ends — the aforementioned Cope-Fitzpatrick, who is back in good academic standing, incoming freshman tight end Tyler Petite, and incoming transfer Taylor McNamara from Oklahoma.

Those three scholarship players boast a total of four career receptions between them with 34 games of experience and exactly one start.

To put that in perspective, in his short USC career Dixon had as many starts as the other three, with 14 catches for 198 yards and four touchdowns in 12 games.

Still, the Trojans are not without talent at the position. All three available scholarship tight ends were four-star recruits coming out of high school.

Cope-Fitzpatrick was expected to play a big role for USC in 2014 before being declared ineligible and that expectation has only grown bigger without the presence of Randall Telfer.

The trouble is that neither McNamara nor Cope-Fitzpatrick fit the mold of an Austin Seferian-Jenkins type, who dominated in Sarkisian’s Washington offense. Both are more suited to the blocking responsibilities of the position.

That adds a greater burden on Petite’s shoulders as potentially USC’s main receiving option at tight end. As Sarkisian demonstrated with Dixon in 2014 however, his chances to see the field could be limited if he does not prove capable of handling key blocking assignments.

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Some of that pressure could be alleviated from an unexpected source, namely walk-on Connor Spears. The Columbia transfer had to sit out last year due to transfer rules, but he put in stand out performances during USC’s spring camp.

Though the spring depth chart ultimately listed Cope-Fitzpatrick as the starter, there were rumblings that Spears might steal the job out from under him, displaying sure hands and impressive size.

Other rumblings suggested the use of incoming linebackers Porter Gustin and Osa Masina as linebackers, or even utilizing fullback Soma Vainuku to pick up the slack.

While Sarkisian has left those options on the table, they still remain highly unlikely.

Taking into account Spears’ potential contributions and reinforcements like Petite and McNamara on the way, the Trojans do have options when it comes to replacing Dixon as a player.

However, they are a long way from replacing Dixon’s impact as an offensive weapon.