Jalen Cope-Fitzpatrick is academically ineligible this season, leaving USC with only two scholarship tight ends.
Senior Randall Telfer, who suffered several leg injuries last season, practiced Monday when the Trojans opened training camp and is regarded as a team leader.
The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Telfer has 44 career receptions, 10 for touchdowns. But 26 of those catches and five of the touchdowns came as a redshirt freshman in 2011.
"Randall being a senior … the veteran leadership he provides and his blocking ability, I think he'll be a really good weapon for us in the passing game," Sarkisian said.
Freshman Bryce Dixon practiced for the first time and the 6-4, 240-pound Oxnard St. Bonaventure High graduate apparently impressed Sarkisian.
"Unless something crazy happens, he's shown me in one day that he's going to be plenty good enough to play for us this fall," Sarkisian said.
The Trojans also have senior Chris Willson. The 6-5, 250-pound walk-on transferred to USC last season from Wake Forest and moved from quarterback to tight end. He caught only one pass but performed well while learning the new position.
Sarkisian also said fullbacks Soma Vainuku and Jahleel Pinner would give the Trojans options.
"When you add up the three tight ends and a couple of fullbacks, I think we have versatility that we can run the offense I think we're capable of running," Sarkisian said.