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USC FOOTBALL NOTES

USC's T.J. Bryant hurt in altercation during conditioning drill

The junior has surgery on his cheekbone after incident last week.

August 05, 2010|By Gary Klein

USC players won't put on full pads until the weekend, but at least two Trojans did not wait to mix it up.

Junior cornerback T.J. Bryant had cheekbone surgery Thursday as the result of an altercation last week with senior fullback Stanley Havili, Coach Lane Kiffin said.

Bryant, competing for a starting position, is expected to be sidelined three to four weeks, Kiffin said.

"I feel horrible about it," Havili said. "I talked to T.J. about it [Thursday]. We're on good terms."

Bryant could not be reached for comment.

The altercation occurred during a conditioning drill Friday. Havili said Trojans players were competing in a relay, with strength coaches present.

"We were all fired up," Havili said. "It was the last workout … emotions were high. When emotions are high, you know, intelligence is down. I let it get the best of me and I feel bad about it."

Said Kiffin: "Sometimes people show leadership in the wrong ways. This was a situation where Stanley tried to step in to get guys to … finish at the level he's used to. From my understanding there was some talking back and forth and some pushing and, obviously, it didn't end very well."

Kiffin said he was made aware of the incident "a couple days ago, but nothing injury-wise came of it." Havili and Bryant reported to training camp with other players Tuesday without any noticeable signs of their altercation. But Kiffin said a team trainer informed him after physicals that Bryant would require further evaluation.

Bryant did not practice Wednesday while undergoing tests, Kiffin said.

Quarterback Matt Barkley said he did not see the incident. Several other players declined to comment.

"It was just a little thing and nothing is going to get in the way of our goals," Barkley said.

With D.J. Shoemate transferring to Connecticut last month, Havili is the only scholarship fullback in camp. Asked if the three-year starter would be suspended, Kiffin said, "I don't know that yet. I'm still trying to get everything together."

New offensive coordinator Kennedy Pola said he would support Havili "like a parent."

"I'm not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater-type thing," said Pola, who coaches running backs. "Just be there and, hopefully, [he'll] make the right decision the next time something like that happens."

This is not the first time that Trojans teammates have been involved in an altercation that left one in surgery. Before spring practice in 2005, receiver Steve Smith broke tight end Dominique Byrd's jaw in a fight over a debt owed from playing video games.

Kiffin was on the Trojans staff at the time. Neither player was suspended by former coach Pete Carroll.

Catching on

Kiffin, quick to praise senior receiver Ronald Johnson almost daily since spring practice, said he was impressed by other receivers through the first two days of workouts.

"I thought coming out of spring we had one really good receiver and couldn't figure the rest of them out," Kiffin said. "The young guys have made a bunch of plays and also the veteran guys that have kind of been backups here have had two really good days."

Receivers De'Von Flournoy, Brandon Carswell and Kyle Prater, however, did not finish practice. Flournoy was treated for an apparent right shoulder injury.

gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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