Nov. 24, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver T.J. Jones (7) catches a pass as USC Trojans linebacker Lamar Dawson (55) defends in the first quarter at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

USC 2012 Evaluations: LB Lamar Dawson

Stats:12 games played, 77 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 2 passes broken up, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions

What Stood Out:Lamar Dawson proved to be an effective tackler as he continued his role as the starting middle linebacker for the Trojans, a role he won for the last four games of his freshman year in 2011. He’s not afraid to get physical and has good instincts that yielded a few turnovers for USC this season.

What Needed Work:Dawson wears the coveted No. 55 on his back, a number that holds much esteem in the Trojan Family. Greats like Chris Claiborne, Junior Seau, and Keith Rivers wore the number before Dawson, and so far, he just hasn’t yet lived up to the standard of being in the sacred 55 Club. His play-making ability exists, but the Trojans needed more from him in 2012, and he missed an unacceptable number of tackles this season as well. In his defense, Dawson was often in formations that set him up to get bad angles on tackles, and the Monte Kiffin scheme didn’t really allow him to show just how ferocious and hard-hitting he can be. Dawson has less than two years’ of experience as a starter, and often times it showed in his play.

Final Word:Dawson will likely continue to start at middle linebacker in 2013, and his progression in the Clancy Pendergast system will be worth following. He has all of the mechanics and skills to be a worthy member of the 55 Club, but the jury is still out as to whether that happens.

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