November 17, 2011
Last year, USC coach Lane Kiffin was openly comparing five-star recruit Dillon Baxter to Reggie Bush. At the start of his sophomore season, Baxter was talking about his improved maturity and relishing his opportunity to seize the starting tailback job with senior Marc Tyler on indefinite suspension.
Less than two months later, he was cast into an involuntary hiatus to "focus on his academics" with 12 offensive touches for the season. As of Thursday, Baxter's USC career is officially over. From the Orange County Register:
Sophomore tailback Dillon Baxter has been released from his scholarship at USC, his stepfather told the Register.
Anthony Mooney said Baxter received his release about two weeks ago. He will finish this semester at USC before transferring. Schools under consideration include San Diego State, Florida and Portland State. […]
"After speaking with Coach (Lane) Kiffin, we decided it was better to part ways," Mooney said Thursday. "It was an amicable situation that was better for Dillon and for USC. We want to thank everyone at the university for the opportunity and support they gave to Dillon while he was there. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out. It just wasn't a match at this point."
Aside from signing day and a single, spectacular run in his first scrimmage, it's hard to identify any point that Baxter appeared to be a match at USC. He was suspended for his first game for a violation of team rules; he was suspended again as a freshman for riding in a golf cart with a fellow student who also happened to be (ludicrously) a certified NFL agent. As a sophomore, he barely touched the ball over the first four games, fell behind the latest hotshot freshman in October and didn't even make the trip to Notre Dame before his Kiffin-imposed exile.
Kiffin met with Baxter and his family about playing time after the first game. The question wasn't if a transfer was in the works, but when.
Now that we have an answer, some team on one coast or the other is going to be getting a talented, versatile back with two years of eligibility and a lot of baggage — the equivalent of a glorified junior college transfer. Something tells this time, though, that his phone isn't exactly ringing off the hook.