by Lisa Horne
USC head coach Steve Sarkisian announced on Tuesday that kicker Matthew Boermeester, a transfer from Saddleback College, has been blueshirted.
For those unfamiliar with this color of shirt, the explanation is simple. If a student-athlete does not take an official visit to a school and has not received a scholarship offer, he is classified as an unrecruited athlete. USC Sports Information Director Tim Tessalone explained to me that "a non-recruited student-athlete can receive aid the day after practice begins and will count against the following year’s signing class."
USC rarely offers scholarships to special teams players unless he is a transfer, first joins the team as a walk-on or can play at multiple positions.
Since 2002, only four kickers/punters who were offered a scholarship from USC were recruited out of high school: Tom Malone, Troy Van Blarcom, Andre Heidari and Kris Albarado.
USC has recruited kickers from other colleges or universities. David Buehler (Santa Ana College) received a scholarship in 2006, Jacob Harfman (Mt. San Antonio College) in 2009 and Kyle Negrete (University of San Diego) in 2012. Boermeester is the latest.
According to USCFootball.com's Ryan Abraham, "USC now has four special teams players on scholarship." He also noted that it is a "high number for a team under sanctions."
It's also a high number for a team that is not under sanctions.
Alabama seems to have endless scholarships but it is still looking for the guy with the golden leg. USC doesn't have a lot of available scholarships but it has two kickers with full rides?
USC Athletic Director Pat Haden's email inbox must be a hot mess right now. And it shouldn't be.
Sarkisian's brilliance has blinded the sheep. Stay calm and read on.
Kicker Andre Heidari is in his senior year. He is on pace to break the school's career field goal and PAT records. Barring injury or subpar performances, Heidari is USC's starting kicker and emergency punter.
Boermeester was a 2012 grayshirt at Saddleback College, according to Tessalone. Since grayshirting does not use up a student-athlete's eligibility, Boermeester's eligibility clock started ticking in 2013, the year he enrolled full-time and started playing at Saddleback. He currently has four years to play three.
Let me repeat that.
Boermeester has four years to play three. Still think this scholarship was wasted?
Unless a team is loaded with depth at one position, the decision to slap a non-medical redshirt on a player usually comes late in the season. The Trojans are not in a position to redshirt many players because they still are feeling the effects of the NCAA's sanctions. Scholarships capped at 15 per class and 75 per roster for three consecutive years have made USC skinnier than your average Hollywood starlet. Redshirting has become a luxury that USC cannot afford. Until now.
If Heidari's health and accuracy remain good, redshirting Boermeester would be a logical move. But is Heidari good to go?
Heidari struggled last year—he missed two crucial field goal attempts in USC's 14-10 loss to Notre Dame. When then-interim head coach Ed Orgeron opened up the job for kicking duties the following Monday, Heidari improved, missing only two field goals the rest of the season.
A little competition never hurts.
According to InsideSocal.com's Scott Wolf, Heidari "struggled" Monday but was perfect on Tuesday, the day Boermeester's blueshirt was announced. Coincidence?
There is no such thing as a coincidence. In USC's first two fall practices, Boermeester went 9-for-10 in field goals including a 52-yarder.
If Heidari maintains consistency, Boermeester can redshirt late in the season. If Heidari struggles, enter Boermeester. Either way, USC is in an excellent position this year, 2015, 2016 and possibly 2017, if Boermeester redshirts.
USC fans can stop dreaming in black and white and start dreaming in color.
Thanks to Sarkisian, a former grayshirt, redshirted-blueshirt kicker in a cardinal-and-gold jersey could nail the walk-off field goal next year against his rival's powder-and-blue jerseys while his father watches from the Bruin sidelines.
Your move, Jim Mora.