Kenny Bigelow changing role for USC Football from player to coach

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

Kenny Bigelow’s USC Football playing career is over, with the defensive lineman opting to shift his role with the Trojans towards coaching.

The 2017 season was supposed to be Kenny Bigelow’s chance to finally overcome his injury troubles and contribute on the field for USC Football.

Those hopes are now ended as the defensive lineman has decided to step away from his career as a player to focus on his future as a coach.

“He’s kinda taking a step back from the football aspect of things after two knee surgeries and really going to help us in coaching,” head coach Clay Helton said after practice on Tuesday.

Bigelow, who logged just one tackle this season, did not suit up for USC’s win over Utah. On Sunday, Helton indicated that he was working through some personal issues.

It now appears those issues were more of a decision: continue to play or move on?

The answer was the latter, with Bigelow getting back on the practice field this week without his pads.

It’s a familiar role for Bigelow. When he suffered a second season-ending knee injury ahead of the 2016 season, Helton dubbed him “Coach Bigelow,” as a figure who could still have an impact in a leadership role for the Trojans.

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“His aspiration after football is to be a coach, so he’s going to mentor some young kids for us and be around this team in a different role,” Helton said on Tuesday.

Bigelow’s career at USC has been injury-plagued to put it lightly. The former five-star prospect redshirted in 2013 then tore ligaments in his knee ahead of the 2014 season.

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Slowed by rehab from that injury, Bigelow’s return to action was limited in 2015, though he showed promise late in the season.

Unfortunately, that potential to create an impact was again dashed because of the knee injury which sidelined him in 2016.

Considering USC’s loss of key lineman Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, there was a sense that Bigelow could finally become a contributor for the Trojans this year, if he could stay healthy.

However, the lineman never quite got back to that level. He logged one tackle in the opening game but has not gotten on the stat sheet in that department since.

An injury to freshman Marlon Tuipulotu might have opened the door for more action. However, the Trojans burned true freshman Brandon Pili’s redshirt and he stepped ahead of Bigelow in the pecking order at nose tackle. The veteran did block a kick against Oregon State, but did not appear at USC’s win over Utah a week later.

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Bigelow’s absence in a playing sense will ensure that Pili’s playing time will only increase. Meanwhile, a concussion suffered by starting nose tackle Josh Fatu in a car accident could see even more reserve lineman called up for action. On Tuesday, Pili was spelled by Jay Tufele in first team action at times.