Toa Lobendahn to return to USC Football for 2018 season

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

Offensive lineman Toa Lobendahn is set to return to USC Football for his redshirt senior season in 2018, boosting the Trojans prospects in the trenches.

USC Football’s quest to repeat as Pac-12 Champions was helped greatly on Wednesday with the news that veteran lineman Toa Lobendahn will be back for his redshirt senior season with the Trojans.

USC announced Lobendahn’s return on Twitter, joining right tackle Chuma Edoga as the second draft-eligible lineman to spurn the NFL Draft.

The next question to answer is where Lobendahn will line up for USC in 2018. The versatile lineman has played in nearly every position across the front five. He started at left tackle for the entirety of the 2017 season when healthy and also boasts starts at left guard, right guard and center in his career. He was named a Freshman All-American in 2015 while splitting time at guard and tackle.

In 2018, however, it makes the most sense for Lobendahn to return to the position where he actually has the least experience: center.

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The fact that he only has three career starts at center, his natural position, is the fault of injury. He took over as the starting center job in 2015 but only made it through two games before suffering a season-ending knee injury. In 2016 he won the starting job going into the season, but again suffered a season-ending injury in the season opener.

With incumbent center Nico Falah graduating, the path is clear for Lobendahn to step right back into that role as one of USC’s most veteran linemen.

The player himself expects to move back inside, telling Joey Kaufman of the OC Register after the Cotton Bowl that he would play center if he returned.

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That settles one concern on the offensive line, but opens up another, as Lobendahn’s place at left tackle will need filling.

Still, the Trojans can expect to have at least three returning regular offensive lines starters with Lobendahn, Edoga and guard Andrew Vorhees coming back for 2018. A fourth in left guard Chris Brown is also expected to return.