Steve Sarkisian has admitted that giving the legendary defensive No. 55 to his freshman offensive guard, Toa Lobendahn was a mistake Saturday after the USC spring game.
Lobendahn, who earned the starting left guard position after his first spring with the program, was assigned the number back in March. He wore it Saturday before a crowd of 15,000 at the Coliseum.
Former Trojan great Willie McGinest was present and expressed reservations about the number being worn by a non-linebacker during a live interview midday through the game.
“We’ve got to have some conversations and meetings about that,” McGinest said.
McGinest wore the number, which he inherited from the late great Junior Seau, from 1990-93, earning All-American honors in it. In fact, it was following McGinest’s time that the number earned it’s exclusive status. John Katnik, a center, was the last offensive player to wear the number in 1989.
All in all, some of the greatest Trojan linebackers have been awarded the number, including Chris Claiborne and Keith Rivers, along with McGinest and Seau. Both Clairborne and Rivers earned All-American honors during their time at USC.
Currently, linebacker Lamar Dawson wears the number on defense. Interestingly enough, the award of it to him as an incoming freshman was a source of discomfort for many who believed the number should be earned instead of being used as a recruiting ploy.