Stanley Havili returns to USC practice
LOS ANGELES -- USC fullback Stanley Havili's indefinite suspension from the team for breaking the left cheekbone of cornerback T.J. Bryant during a fight a week ago lasted all of one day before coach Lane Kiffin reinstated him Saturday.
"I talked to Stanley and a number of our players who came to me including T.J. who were there with the situation and saw everything and really felt that Stanley should be back and part of the team and basically begged me to bring him back," Kiffin said. "I know after talking with Stanley, the way he feels and how hurt he was by what happened and the attention brought to it. The biggest thing for me was T.J. explaining to me this thing was done eight days ago right after it happened. Stanley apologized to him, they had moved on."
Bryant, who returned to practice wearing sunglasses as he watched the team from the sidelines, underwent surgery Thursday and is expected to miss three to four weeks.
According to Kiffin, Havili punched Bryant near the end of a players-only workout after Havili and Bryant exchanged words during a conditioning drill.
While Havili returned to practice, he was only active during the first 45 minutes as he continued to recover from a tweaked hamstring he suffered during practice Thursday. When asked about the perception of suspending Havili for only one practice he might have missed anyway due to his injury Kiffin said, "I think you guys that know me know I don't really concern myself with the perception of people outside of our program."
"We could have kept him out today and said we were keeping him out longer to please people outside of our program if we wanted to because he really didn't do anything today anyway after individual [workouts]," said Kiffin, who doesn't forsee further discipline for Havili. "But we didn't, he's back with us. His hamstring is sore and he couldn't play if we were going to play today anyway."
Havili, a fifth-year senior who was USC's fourth-leading rusher and No. 4 receiver last season, walked off the practice field with Bryant and addressed the media after both players huddled up with USC sports information director Tim Tessalone.
"It was tough to sit at home while the guys were out here," Havili said. "I realized I made a mistake out there and I did let my emotions get the best of me."
Bryant said his face doesn't hurt and actually didn't know he needed surgery until he was forced to undergo a physical before the start of camp. He hopes to practice before the season opener against Hawaii on Sept. 2.
"Emotions just got the best of us and some things happened but that's old news," Bryant said. "That happened a week ago and we made up that day. Everything's been fine ever since then."
Bryant said he pleaded with Kiffin to allow Havili to return to the team because they both had put the situation behind him and were both to blame for the incident.
"Nobody needs to miss practice," Bryant said. "We were both at fault, we both made a bad decision. The team needs everybody right now. We all need to come together and just be as one. Somebody sitting at home just doesn't make sense to me. We're all grown and we learn. The time that he sat out was too much for me. I just wanted him back. The team needs him."
Despite putting the situation behind them, Bryant cracked a smile when he was asked if he would look to give Havili an extra hard hit when he returned to practice.
"Stanley plays offense and I try to kill all the offensive players," he said. "It's nothing personal but if I'm not looking to kill him my energy's not there. I'm looking to kill everyone out there."
Havili, who said he was surprised his suspension didn't last longer, did at least find a silver lining in the situation as he stood besides Bryant in the middle of the practice field, surrounded by a dozen reporters.
"I feel like we had a bonding moment," Havili said, smiling at Bryant. "I do feel like me and T.J. are cool towards each other and it's a good experience to learn from."
Arash Markazi is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ArashMarkazi.