One of USC’s top receivers from last season is preparing to sit out the rest of this one.
Junior Gary Bryant Jr. is expected to redshirt this season, coach Lincoln Riley said Tuesday. Bryant, who had caught just two passes in three weeks, is free to play in one more game while retaining his ability to redshirt.
The decision to sit Bryant for the rest of the season is a surprising turn for a receiver who ranked among the most productive playmakers in USC’s passing attack last year. Bryant scored seven touchdowns and tallied 579 yards for an offense that was without its top target, Drake London, for the second half of the season. Bryant also served as one of USC’s top returners.
But with a new fleet of transfer receivers, opportunities for Bryant have dried up. The eight routes he ran in USC’s win over Fresno State last Saturday represented a high-water mark through three weeks. He practiced with the scout-team offense Tuesday.
Whether Bryant will elect to remain at USC beyond his redshirt year remains to be seen. He signed with the Trojans out of Corona Centennial in 2020 as one of the most coveted receiver recruits in the nation. Should he decide to enter the NCAA transfer portal, he’d likely have no shortage of suitors.
Less than a month ago, Bryant told reporters that he welcomed the competition that came with Riley’s offense and a more crowded receiver room
“Just going out there and taking it one day at a time and knowing that I’m competing with myself,” Bryant said. “Just trying to elevate. When I heard Jordan [Addison] was coming, Mario [Williams] was coming, just knowing that I can take his game, he can take my game, we can all come together as one and elevating every day at practice.”
Addison and Williams have emerged as the top targets in USC’s explosive passing attack, combining for 41 of the 91 targets through three games. No other receiver has been targeted more than seven times.
The lack of equal opportunity begs the question of whether Bryant will be the last in that room to redshirt.
After missing USC’s win over Fresno State with an ankle injury, left tackle Courtland Ford practiced Tuesday. Both he and fellow left tackle Bobby Haskins enter this week with a clean bill of health, but Riley wouldn’t say which would get the lion’s share of snaps Saturday against Oregon State.