Sophomore linebacker Levi Jones was removed from the USC football roster after a violation of team rules before the Cal game, head coach Clay Helton confirmed on Tuesday.
Yet another USC football defender has left the team in 2018 over conduct issues.
On Tuesday, head coach Clay Helton confirmed reports that sophomore linebacker Levi Jones had been dismissed from the program.
“Levi Jones did not participate in last week’s game due to a violation of team rules and is no longer on our roster,” Helton said. “That is all the comment I have on that situation.”
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While the head coach referenced a recent violation of team rules, that may only be the end of the story on Jones’ dismissal. Multiple outlets, including USCFootball.com, reported an arrest on Jones’ record from over the summer. Back in July, he was apparently brought in by the Pasadena Police Department for public intoxication.
Combining the violation of team rules with the summer arrest, it would seem a string of behavioral missteps by the sophomore led to his dismissal.
Jones was a highly-touted four-star addition to USC’s 2017 recruiting class at linebacker. He played sparingly as a freshman while learning both the inside and outside positions, but settled in as the back up to John Houston at weakside linebacker this season. There he played in eight games and tallied 13 tackles, including three tackles for loss and three pass breakups.
Standing in for the injured Houston against Arizona, he showed real promise, adding to hopes that he would be a valuable heir-apparent to the veteran.
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His absence could mean more playing time for freshmen linebackers Palaie Gaoteote and Raymond Scott. Scott now figures as the direct backup to Houston, though desire to get Gaoteote onto the field alongside Cameron Smith could see him also factor in.
Looking ahead, Houston has one more season of eligibility, potentially giving the Trojans time to groom highly-rated linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu for that spot. The freshman is redshirting this year as he recovers from a foot injury. Should Houston opt to leave for the NFL, the timetable to replace him would obviously increase, with Scott and Tuliaupupu battling it out for the job next year.
Jones joins the ranks of wide receiver Joseph Lewis, safeties Bubba Bolden and Ykili Ross as well as cornerbacks Jack Jones and Je’Quari Godfrey as players who have departed the program in 2018.