Dillon Baxter: An Insignificant Loss

Remember this video:

USC fans saw this and must have thought they were watching the second coming of Reggie Bush.  Even Lane Kiffin drew comparisons to the former USC star, but look how that has changed now.  Within a matter of months Dillon Baxter went from competing for the starting running back job to no longer being with the program.

It is no secret that since the former five-star recruit and MaxPreps National Player of the Year stepped on campus his relationship with the coaching staff, especially Kiffin, was strained.  His troubles began with his suspension for the Hawaii game last year, reportedly because he was caught “under the influence of a controlled substance” and finally culminated with him missing the Notre Dame game this past weekend.

For Kiffin, a man who was tired of Baxter’s poor work ethic and the distractions that he brought to the team, this must have been the final straw.  He never said that Baxter was cut from the team, but he never denied it.  Instead he said, “the decision has been made for Dillon Baxter to focus on his academics.”   Somehow that just seems hard to believe.  This could not have been a decision for Baxter to make.  If it was he would have already announced his plans to transfer.

[caption id="attachment_56" align="alignright" width="296" caption="Photo by Shotgun Spratling"][/caption]

The fact is if Kiffin was going to get rid of Baxter now was as good a time as any.  Baxter’s failure to make the trip to South Bend gave the head coach a great reason to finally dismiss him.  Doing it right before the Stanford game will allow the team to focus on their toughest opponent thus far, rather than answer questions about their now ex-teammate.

But don’t be worried or disappointed Trojan fans, Dillon Baxter is just a big name and nothing more.  Sure he had talent, but he was never going to utilize his abilities if he wasn’t going to put in work on the practice field.  The only reason this is big news is because Baxter came to USC and was expected to contribute immediately.  People saw the video from his scrimmage and believed a star had been born.

In the grand scheme of things his departure is insignificant.  His absence does not create a depth issue now or in the foreseeable future at the running back position.  A quick look at the depth chart shows three running backs that have contributed more this season than Baxter did in the limited carries he had.  It’s really just best that he is gone and no longer a problem.

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