Cope-Fitzpatrick is back

Redshirt junior tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick got his grades in order and is back on the team.

Tight end Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick was academically ineligible for the 2014 season, what was to be his true junior year campaign.

After attending practice earlier in the season and working on the scout team, Cope-Fitzpatrick did not participate in workouts late in the season in order to focus on academics.

Apparently that extra work paid off, because Cope-Fitzpatrick is academically eligible once again.

"I'm back," Cope-Fitzpatrick said on Thursday after a short team throwing session. "I will be practicing and working out fulltime now. I finished school well and got my grades on track."

Having to sit out an entire football season was tough on the Rocklin (Calif.) Whitney product.

"It was a great learning experience, but it was very unfortunate," he said. "I love my teammates and I love USC. It was a big letdown for them and my family too, knowing that I have the ability to do well in school, but I just didn't. I didn't put in the work.

"So it was definitely a learning experience and I am just glad to be back out again. I have been granted another chance."

Now Cope-Fitzpatrick is back in the mix and can work on improving how he handles the complicated life of a modern student-athlete.

"I will focus on more of just myself, like my mental state and just making sure to reorganize my priorities," he said. "That was probably the biggest thing, just reevaluating what I really care about and shuffling around those interests."

Goal wise, Cope-Fitzpatrick is keeping things simple now.

"Just working on getting back with the team really," he said. "Kind of reintroducing myself to my teammates. It felt kind of weird coming back today, even just running routes. It was unusually familiar, just getting familiar with football again, I guess."

With Randall Telfer graduating, true sophomore Bryce Dixon was the only other scholarship tight end left on the roster besides Cope-Fitzpatrick. USC does has a verbal commit from Moraga (Calif.) Campolindo three-star tight end Tyler Petite, but numbers and experience at that position would have been thin without Cope-Fitzpatrick's return.

"Everyone thinks that we are thin at tight end, but when I was watching the games last year it seemed like Randall and Bryce took care of the position so I expect the same from Bryce and me," he said. "I know we have a new recruit coming in so I expect good things from the tight end position. Also walk-on Connor Spears is one to look out for too."

Cope-Fitzpatrick is already familiar with Dixon from their brief time together last year.

"He was here over the summer and we were working out and when he was practicing during the season we were working out together," he said. "I love Bryce, I can't wait to get on the field with him and do some good things this year."

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