USC coach Clay Helton surprised walk-on kicker Chase McGrath and punter Reid Budrovich with scholarships during the team’s awards banquet.
“It was a neat moment,” Helton said Thursday after practice.
USC offered McGrath a preferred walk-on position last April and he accepted on the spot.
McGrath emerged from training camp as the starter, but did not attempt a field goal in the first two games of the season.
In the third, against Texas, he attempted three.
McGrath’s first kick from 46 yards was no good, but he kicked a 31-yard field goal at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime. McGrath sent the Coliseum into euphoria with a 43-yard game-winner in double overtime.
The following week, McGrath made all three of his field-goal attempts to lift the Trojans to a 30-20 victory over California.
Helton told reporters during the season that McGrath, a freshman from Mater Dei High, likely would earn scholarship.
Helton waited until family, friends and program supporters were gathered to make the announcement.
“Those kids come in and compete, they win the job and then you see how productive they’ve been the entire year,” Helton said, adding, “felt it was the right time.”
McGrath has made 12 of 16 field-goal attempts and 57 of 58 extra points.
Budrovich, a fourth-year junior from St. John Bosco, averaged 42.5 yards per punt.
Early signing period approaching
The new early signing period has made for a chaotic week for Helton and his staff.
Coaches were able to start making in-home visits with high school players the last week of November, but Helton said his staff spent the time focused on the Pac-12 championship game.
Coaches can make visits until Saturday. The early signing period starts Wednesday and runs through Friday.
Helton called this week “a mad scramble” with practices and recruiting trips.
“I’ve been from Ohio to Hawaii,” said Helton, adding that he was leaving after meeting with reporters to drive two hours to visit a recruit. “And I think I’ve seen about 12 kids in the past week in their homes.”
USC has 11 recruits who have given commitments, according to 247Sports.com.
About half of the recruiting class is expected to sign Wednesday, Helton said.
Helton said the new rules would make for a “clearer picture” in January when they prepare for national signing day on Feb. 7, but in the meantime, he’s “a very tired person.”
Young players get reps
Helton said reserve defensive backs and receivers have benefited from bowl practices.
“It is a nice time for our skill kids to get a little bit of extra work,” Helton said.
Receiver Trevon Sidney and safety Jamel Cook, both redshirt freshmen, have stood out, Helton said.
Safety Bubba Bolden did not practice Thursday because of a hip flexor injury, Helton said. Offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees cleared concussion protocol, Helton said… USC will hold a closed practice Friday before taking the weekend off. Practice resumes Monday and the team will depart for the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 23. The game with Ohio State is Dec. 29.