Baxter is USC’s next big star
Write it down right now. The next big playmaker at USC will be Dillon Baxter.
It looked like a typo when you first read his recruiting stats. They claimed he was responsible for 79 touchdowns in his senior year at San Diego’s Mission Bay High School.
Well, once you see him run, you’ll know. It was no typo.
Baxter, a 6-foot, 205 pound packages of wiggles, was the most exciting player on the field in Saturday’s first Spring Game of the Lane Kiffin Era. He ran for 129 yards and a touchdown, including three different breakaway runs, one with a couple of jaw-dropping, spin-around moves that would have made Barry Sanders proud. He also managed to throw a TD pass.
“He has a chance to be a very, very special player,” Kiffin said in his spring wrap-up press conference on Friday.
On a sunny, breezy Saturday in the Coliseum, you could see why the coach is so enthused. People have compared Baxter to Reggie Bush, probably because they both came out of San Diego. But really, young Dillon is more like a slightly smaller version of Marcus Allen, yet another great runner from that town to the south.
Bush and Allen both won the Heisman Trophy. If Baxter stays healthy, he has a shot at winning one, too. The kid is that good. He doesn’t have the pure speed or acceleration of Bush, but he has the kind of fluid, swiveling moves combined with the same type of vision that made Allen so effective.
Can he start for the Trojans as a freshman? Probably not. Allen Bradford, who has waited patiently for four years and has had an excellent spring himself, will be Kiffin’s No. 1 tailback heading into the fall. He is likely to get the majority of the carries.
But don’t worry, Baxter will be utilized. He’ll work some at tailback, probably will be slipped in as an occasional slot receiver and they’ve even devised a Wildcat formation just for him, the same kind he ran in high school.
Overall, it was a good spring game for Kiffin. His first string defense performed well in the first half, and then Baxter, Stanley Havili, freshman receiver Kyle Prater and Mitch Mustain got things going in the second half.
Mustain threw for five touchdowns in probably his finest moments as a quarterback at USC. But no, he’s not beating out Matt Barkley, who threw one beautiful touchdown pass, then sat out much of the second half with what looked like a sore hand.
In the end, though, the crowd of 15,000 went home chattering about Baxter, who almost singlehandedly turned what started out as a lazy, uneventful scrimmage into a spectacular showcase.
The kid can move and groove. Remember, you heard it here first.
He is The Next One.
— Steve Bisheff