LOS ANGELES — As he stood in front of the media on Monday, the evidence of the first four days of training camp were on the biceps of USC offensive lineman Bobby Haskins. The graduate transfer’s skin was discolored purple and blue from his battles in the trenches.
“We’re playing hard, guys are getting after each other,” Haskins said. “It’s been a little chippy, which is what you want.”
And it’s been a nice change of pace for Haskins, who missed all of spring camp after transferring to USC from Virginia.
Haskins played through an ankle injury during his final season with the Cavaliers, in which he was named to the ACC honorable mention. After Virginia’s bowl game against SMU was canceled, Haskins underwent surgery.
Not long after, Haskins entered the transfer portal, balancing that decision with his recovery and finals as he looked to complete his degree in foreign affairs.
USC head coach Lincoln Riley took on the main recruiting responsibility with Haskins as the Trojans had yet to hire an offensive line coach. Haskins came away with a sense he could trust Riley, even without knowing who would be his day-to-day mentor.
“When you’re going somewhere for your last year, you gotta trust it,” Haskins said. “We don’t have time to second guess and put one toe in the water. We gotta dive in head first and that’s what I did.”
Another key element of USC’s recruitment of Haskins was strength coach Bennie Wylie, who sold Haskins on his vision for how he could transform the offensive tackle’s body to give him a strong final season, and a better chance at an NFL future.
Most of those goals involved adding upper-body mass, so Haskins was able to work on himself even as he recovered from ankle surgery. Haskins has added 10 pounds to get up to 305, a weight he wants to play at this season.
“I feel a little stronger in the run game, I feel like I got a little more pop,” Haskins said.
The question remains, though, where he fits on USC’s offensive line. A two-year starter at Virginia, Haskins has a little catching up to do to compete for a job on a unit that returns four players who started in 2021.
But his overall experience is helping him overcome his lack of reps in USC’s offense.
“He’s certainly going to be right there in the mix, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that,” Riley said. “You can tell after missing all that time that he’s played a lot of ball. You can certainly see that. He’s getting close to 100% physically and it hasn’t taken him long to settle in.”
Haskins played both tackle positions at Virginia. In the portions of practice open to media on Monday and Wednesday, he was working at second-team left tackle while Courtland Ford and Jonah Monheim have been at first-team left and right tackle, respectively, as they were in the spring.
Offensive line coach Josh Henson says the competition is open, and no one is guaranteed a job on the line. He also added he felt like, of the three tackles, Monheim is more capable of moving inside to guard to accommodate Haskins if need be.
“That’s all you can ever ask for in life is an opportunity to compete, and that’s what I have,” Haskins said. “We got a great group on the offensive line and I’m here to help the team win and do that any way I can and compete for a starting job.”
Wide receivers Michael Jackson III and Kyron Hudson did not participate in practice with undisclosed injuries. WR Gary Bryant Jr. was limited, sitting out the team’s tempo drill at the beginning of practice. … Rush edge Korey Foreman was absent on Monday and Wednesday with what Riley described as a personal commitment.