With the announcement that Bryce Dixon was no longer enrolled at USC, the tight end position suddenly became an area of concern for the Trojans in 2015. With a roster that really lacks any proven commodity at the position, the pressure might just be on graduate transfer Taylor McNamara to step up and lead the way.
That will mean that McNamara, who graduate from Oklahoma in May, will have to recapture the ability that made him such a highly rated recruit back in 2012. According to Rivals, McNamara was the No. 7 tight end prospect in the country for his recruiting class and the No. 189 overall prospect. The four-star prospect ultimately signed with the Sooners where he was projected to enjoy a very illustrious career.
Unfortunately, that promise never materialized into production on the field for McNamara in Norman. He was injured during his true freshman season, resulting in a redshirt. He rarely saw the field the following season as a redshirt freshman but was projected to be a major part of the Sooners' offense in 2014 after catching a pair of touchdowns in last year's spring game. The emergence of Blake Bell, however, pushed McNamara out of the picture. Ultimately, he finished his career at Oklahoma with just one catch and plenty to prove as he comes to USC.
The Trojans will be looking for someone to step up at tight end now that Dixon is no longer in the picture. As a freshman in 2014, Dixon caught 14 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns and appeared to be on his way to a very bright future with the Trojans.
Without Dixon, USC is razor thin at the tight end position. Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick is the most experienced member of the group but is working his way back from a season-long academic suspension and appeared rusty during spring practice. Walk-on Connor Spears was taking the first-team reps by the end of spring and will enter fall camp precariously installed as the starter.
Joining the group this fall in addition to McNamara will be incoming freshman Tyler Petite, a 6-foot-6, four-star prospect from Moraga, California, and walk-on Caleb Wilson. The competition figures to be wide open and primed for a player like McNamara to recapture his form and seize an opportunity.
Petite appears to be the tight end of the future for USC but could use a little time to add bulk to his 223-pound frame. Installing a sturdier veteran like McNamara would allow the team to really develop the young pass catcher, provided that the former Sooner can show some ability in the passing game.
At one time, Taylor McNamara was pegged as a future stud tight end who would make a major impact on the field. While that hasn't happened for him yet, could the change of scenery and an opportunity to start jumpstart the former top recruit back to elite form?