Dillon Baxter may not travel to Hawaii
LOS ANGELES -- USC freshman running back Dillon Baxter spoke to the media for the first time Wednesday since he was suspended last week for the team's season opener against Hawaii on Sept. 2 for violating team rules.
"I made some mistakes but I'm going to move on from here and I know I'm not going to do anything wrong for here on out," Baxter said. "I fully support if Coach [Lane] Kiffin wants me to go or wants me to stay [home for the season opener] and my family supports it to. I'm excited for the first home game back, playing Virginia."
Baxter and Kiffin would not get into the specifics of the suspension but Kiffin did say he was leaning toward leaving Baxter in Los Angeles for the season opener as opposed to letting him travel with the team and watch the game from the sidelines, which was an option he considered last week.
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"I'm leaning towards him focusing on the academic semester and getting off to a great start," Kiffin said. "I'm leaning towards leaving him here, and also it would probably be a distraction for him to be on the sidelines for an ESPN game, focusing on that. We're focused on the players who are going to be playing in the game."
Kiffin informed Baxter of his decision last Wednesday and the freshman has continued to participate in practices and is scheduled to be back on the field for USC's home opener Sept. 11 against Virginia.
"I made a mistake and I got to pay for it. Whatever his decision is, I'm responsible for it," Baxter said. "I've learned to be responsible. Do what you need to do and stop acting like a knucklehead and everything should be fine."
Baxter, who enrolled at USC in January after graduating a semester early from Mission Bay High School in San Diego, has a number of highlight-reel plays during practice and is being counted on to contribute at tailback and as a returner this season.
"I think it's an ongoing process. It's like raising children," Kiffin said.
"Just because they get a little bit better it doesn't mean they're not going to regress at times. With [Baxter] it's something we're constantly on, and he says the right things, that he's learned from it, but his actions will speak a lot louder than his words, so we'll see."
Arash Markazi is a columnist and reporter for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.