USC kicker Chase McGrath enters transfer portal
Chase McGrath came to USC as a preferred walk-on, determined to earn his place at his dream school. Now, after three seasons as the Trojans’ primary placekicker and a handful of heroic kicks, McGrath has decided to leave the team.
The redshirt junior kicker entered the NCAA transfer portal this week after losing his starting job to freshman Parker Lewis earlier this season.
Few expected McGrath to be usurped after a strong 2019 season in which he made 14 of 17 field-goal attempts. But tendinitis in his knee and hip opened the door for Lewis in training camp, and the freshmen immediately took advantage. Lewis has hit six of his seven field-goal attempts, the most of any kicker in the Pac-12.
His strong start made it unlikely that McGrath would win back his job when fully healthy, even after USC coach Clay Helton called him “one of the better kickers in the country” earlier this season.
“Chase took it like a pro,” Helton said then. “[He] said ‘Coach, I’m there for you, and I’ll be there for you if you need me.’ And he’ll continue to get better and get healthier, and hopefully that pain will go away.”
The USC football team resumes workouts after positive coronavirus tests prompted the cancellation of last week’s game against Colorado.
It took a fortuitous sequence of events for McGrath to earn his initial opportunity at USC. After attempting just five field goals as a senior at Santa Ana Mater Dei, he had one scholarship offer coming out of high school.
It took a suspension of its starting kicker, Matt Boermeester, in February 2017, for USC to offer a preferred walk-on spot to McGrath, who joined without any guarantee of a scholarship.
He earned the job in camp and was thrust into a high-pressure situation in the season’s third game against Texas, kicking a field goal on the final play of regulation to send the game into overtime. He won the game with a field goal in the second overtime.
McGrath missed most of the 2018 season with a knee injury before returning as the starter in 2019. He was named USC’s special teams player of the year and earned honorable mention on the All-Pac-12 team.
Bru McCoy waited a full year to make his mark at USC, and the redshirt freshman receiver didn’t waste any time when his chance came, recovering an onside kick and scoring a touchdown in his debut this season. Through three games, he has 13 catches.
USC’s other young receivers, however, are still waiting for that kind of opportunity. Sophomore John Jackson III caught a 23-yard pass against Arizona. Freshmen Gary Bryant Jr. reeled in a three-yard reception. And Joshua Jackson Jr., another four-star recruit, has yet to record any stats.
All three will undoubtedly benefit from the experience of this season, especially considering it won’t count against their eligibility.
Sunday’s game between USC and Washington State has been moved up to 4:30 p.m.
“It’s almost like an extra spring ball that really is not going to count against you,” receivers coach Keary Colbert said. “I think their mind-set, I know what their mind-set is, is they want to compete and they want to do big things, and they are. They’ve been showing up every day and making plays.”
But standing out may only get more difficult. USC has three receivers committed to join its 2021 class, while redshirt freshman Kyle Ford, who has impressed in limited action, will return from a knee injury.
Washington State running back Max Borghi hasn’t played a snap during this shortened season after injuring his back during training camp. But the Cougars’ top offensive weapon — and the Pac-12’s leading rusher per carry last season — could make his long-awaited debut against USC.
Borghi, who averaged 6.43 yards per carry in 2019, returned to practice this week. His status for Sunday’s game against USC is unclear, but with the game pushed back from its previously scheduled date, the additional two days of preparation may help get him cleared to return.
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