Former Ventura (Calif.) St. Bonaventure four-star tight end Bryce Dixon found himself thrust into the limelight during USC fall camp. With Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick academically ineligible, Dixon was the only other scholarship tight end available besides senior Randall Telfer.
Since arriving on campus this summer, Dixon has transformed his body. He looks a lot more like a senior in college now than an incoming freshman.
"When I was a wide receiver in high school I was 215 pounds, now I’m 241," Dixon said. "I want to be right here [at this weight], right here for a few years."
His combination of size and speed along with his ability to catch the ball has made him a valuable commodity for Steve Sarkisian.
Depth is an issue at most positions for USC, but no situation is more dire than at tight end. While former walk-on Chris Willson has experience and can play, having only a senior and a true freshmen on scholarship doesn't leave a lot of options.
The fact that Dixon has shown he can make an immediate impact has helped, but he still has a lot to learn about the college game.
"Since I arrived on campus the speed, tempo, I am adjusting to that," he said. "But it’s a quick adjustment."
Over the past couple of weeks Dixon has had the opportunity to practice in the Coliseum several times with his teammates. Walking out of that tunnel gives Dixon and the other true freshman a feeling of what August 30 will be like.
"It was tight. I like the Coliseum feeling," he said. "It was really nice I guess. I don't have much to say about it, but I can’t wait to play in it."
Having success over the summer or in fall camp is one thing. Being able to run out on the field and catch a pass or make a key block against Fresno State in the Coliseum is another.
Dixon has confidence that when his number is called, he will be up for the challenge.
"I think I’m ready to go out and contribute," he said. "Coach has been getting me ready, I know the playbook pretty good, so hopefully I get some PT (playing time).
Part of the appeal of USC for Dixon was the way Sarkisian incorporated the tight ends into the offense.
"It impresses me a lot because it has been like the same thing, using my speed against these linebackers to get open," Dixon said. "It’s been like that since high school so it’s not much of a difference."