With 88 days until USC football returns this fall, Trojan fans are left wondering, what happened to No. 88 Daniel Imatorbhebhe?
The clock continues to tick down towards the beginning of USC football 2019 season.
There are now 88 days until the Trojans meet Fresno State at the Coliseum on August 31.
So here’s a look at USC’s No. 88 jersey and the numbers behind the number:
Who wore it best?
In recent years, the No. 88 has been associated with tight ends at USC. For a long time though it was a number for defensive linemen, including All-American Tim Rossovich.
Best described by head coach John McKay as “a big boy, an intelligent boy, and, above all, a mean boy” in the Los Angeles Times, Rossovich stood 6-foot-5, 235-pounds and dominated the trenches for the Trojans from 1965 to 1967.
He captained USC’s 1967 national title team, which would have seemed like an unlikely statement at one time. He grew up in the shadow of Stanford in Palo Alto, but spurned the chance to attend college there. Things felt more right with the Trojans.
And things certainly turned out all right for Rossovich and USC. His All-American acclaim came in 1967 while leading a defense which held opponents to 2.07 yards per carry and allowed just nine touchdowns during the regular season.
Before his death in 2018, Rossovich had to fortune to be inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame.
Another standout to wear the No. 88 include all-conference right end Jim Callanan from 1944 through 1946..
Who wears it now?
USC’s roster lists tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe at No. 88, but it’s anyone’s guess if he will suit up in that jersey again in 2019.
Imatorbhebhe looked set up to be the next All-American to wear the number. He was sensational in the latter half of the 2016 season, building a strong bond of chemistry with quarterback Sam Darnold. He was USC’s fourth leading receiver that year, catching 16 of his 17 receptions on the year in the final eight games of the year, to the tune of 250 yards and four touchdowns.
That debut season was supposed to put Imatorbhebhe on the path for much more, but injury wrecked whatever Mackey Award dreams USC fans may have been whipping up. Battling a nagging problem throughout Fall Camp in 2017, he didn’t feature in five of the Trojans’ first six games. When he did return, he looked a shell of his former self.
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Injury continued to keep him from practice during the 2018 offseason and he ultimately didn’t play a game.
The year off to get right with his body might have given Imatorbhebhe a platform to reemerge in 2019, but the potential of that fades with each day. The redshirt senior was still working out on an individual basis when USC held winter workouts and he was not present for any Spring Camp practice.
If he returns, it’ll feel like adding a cherry on top of USC’s tight end unit, but it’s not something the Trojans can bank on.
Stats to know: 88
- USC began keeping team passing total stats in 1948. That season, USC completed 88 passes on 184 attempts, with 1,003 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
- Quarterback Paul McDonald was USC’s 88th All-American, grabbing the distinction in 1979.
- All-American receiver Johnnie Morton finished his career with 88 catches for 1,520 yards and 14 touchdowns in 1993. That season ranks eight in USC history.
- USC punted 88 times in 1998, averaging 37.5 yards per kick. That’s the most punts in a season in school history.
- Heisman-winning quarterback Carson Palmer had a career-high 88 carries in 2001. He gained a career-high 34 yards.
- All-American wide receiver Mike Williams had eight catches for 88 yards in USC’s 2004 Rose Bowl victory over Michigan.
- All-American receiver Marqise Lee returned a kickoff 88 yards to score a touchdown against Washington in 2011.
- Quarterback Cody Kessler finished his career with 88 passing touchdowns, third on USC’s all-time list.