The USC football team got to work Monday evening with the opening of fall camp. But the biggest news came from who would be unavailable this season.
Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick will not be able to play during the fall semester after being ruled academically ineligible.
USC TE Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick is academically ineligible for the season leaving the Trojans with only two scholarship tight ends.— USC Trojans (@USC_Athletics) August 5, 2014
What appeared to be a potential strength for the USC Trojans, just became a weakness as the Trojans go from having three viable, highly touted tight end options to only having two scholarship tight ends on the roster.
Rather than developing behind senior Randall Telfer and Cope-Fitzpatrick this season, freshman Bryce Dixon, the 6'4", 240-pound top tight end recruit in the nation, will now likely be thrust into extended playing time alongside Telfer.
Walk-on redshirt senior Chris Willson will also be in contention for playing time. Willson is no stranger to big-time college sports. He played in four games last season, starting the Arizona game when Telfer and Xavier Grimble were both nicked up. The West Covina native also played quarterback and was a pitcher for the Wake Forest baseball team before injuring his throwing shoulder, which eventually led to his transfer back to Southern California.
Cope-Fitzpatrick was previously listed as a co-starter at tight end with Telfer and was expected to push the senior for playing time in single tight end sets. JCF only has three career catches for 16 yards, but he had a strong spring showing his ability to be a vertical threat in the middle of the field.
Telfer saw very little action during spring practice as he recovered from arthroscopic knee surgery.