LOS ANGELES — USC has its starting kickers in place for this season.
Coach Clay Helton on Thursday announced that Chase McGrath, a freshman walk-on from Mater Dei High, will handle field goals to start the season. Redshirt freshman Michael Brown will take over for kickoffs.
Helton said he previously met with special teams coach John Baxter when they “decided we would split up the duties based on who was doing what the best.”
That left McGrath to assume the field-goal kicking duties. Helton said had a “nice hot streak” over the past two weeks of practices. Brown, he added, had been “more consistent in the kickoff area.”
The Trojans were left to search for a new placekicker in training camp when Matt Boermeester was expelled from the university in July following a Title IX investigation. He had previously been suspended from the team in February.
Boermeester, who would have been a redshirt senior this fall, handled the kickoff and field-goal kicking duties last season. He made 18 of 25 field-goal attempts last season, including a 46-yard field goal as time expired in USC’s victory over Penn State in the Rose Bowl.
Midway through training camp, Helton expressed some reservations about the young placekickers. Neither has appeared in a college game.
Helton raised few concerns Thursday.
“I feel a lot more confident,” he said. “I think they’ve grown. I think the competition has really, really helped, because it’s been a daily competition where they basically pushed each other.”
Helton said their roles would be definitive, at least for the early portion of the season.
“Hopefully we’ll look up after three games and both are doing terrific jobs,” he said. “If one passes the other over the next three weeks, obviously we’ll do what’s best for the team in that time. But right now, we feel this is what’s best for our football team.”
Reid Budrovich will also be USC’s starting punter, beating out Chris Tilbey, who had been the incumbent starter.
Helton said Budrovich, a redshirt junior walk-on, had a “wonderful camp and has really won the job.”
Clancy Pendergast, the Trojans’ defensive coordinator, has a reputation of preferring a tight rotation, a product of his previous years in the NFL, where teams are more apt to rely heavily on their starters.
But Helton said this week that he and Pendergast planned to use more substitutions on defense this season.
The Trojans, he added, are ballooned by…