72 days to USC football: Andrew Vorhees, Don Mosebar and the No. 72

RoT Countdown / Photo by Alicia de Artola (Reign of Troy)
RoT Countdown / Photo by Alicia de Artola (Reign of Troy) /

USC football’s offensive line was poor in 2018, but Andrew Vorhees and the Trojans can turn it around and fulfill the legacy of Don Mosebar and the No. 72.

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The days until USC football’s 2019 season now number 72 as the countdown keeps on moving.

The No. 72 at USC has been worn by a trio of All-American big men.

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Here’s a chance to learn about the past, present and future of the jersey:

Who wore it best?

Consider the state of USC’s offensive line in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Anthony Munoz, the future NFL Hall of Famer, was injured in USC’s 1979 season opener. His replacement was Don Mosebar, a freshman wearing No. 72 who was due to turn 18 years old in three days.

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Mosebar held onto a starting job until late November when he tore ligaments in his knee during practice ahead of the UCLA game.

He was replaced by future NFL Hall of Famer and fellow freshman Bruce Matthews, who helped the team complete an 11-0-1 season.

“I was always competing with Don, always comparing myself to him,” Matthews said in the Los Angeles Times at the start of their senior campaign in 1982.

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That’s the level the 6-foot-7, 275-pound lineman maintained at USC.

Despite returning from injury, he played the second most minutes of any Trojan in 1981.

In his fourth year as a starter, Mosebar was named a unanimous All-American along with Matthews, a consensus pick. That year, he finally took home Gloomy Gus Henderson Award as the player with the most minutes logged on the field.

Who wears it now?

Andrew Vorhees is responsible for carrying on the legacy of the No. 72, not just for Mosebar, but for All-Americans Al Cowlings and Chad Wheeler.

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Vorhees surprised as an early enrollee in 2017, impressing in Spring Camp and then moving into a starting job after the first month of the season.

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Injuries vaulted Vorhees into the lineup to begin with, but he held down a starting job for all of the 2018 season.

The trouble for Vorhees in 2018 was something that plagued the entirety of USC’s offensive line: They weren’t very good.

Like his teammates, Vorhees struggled to find any sort of consistency, whether in pass protection or run blocking. It resulted in subpar play across the board, including missed assignments and physical beats which sunk the Trojan offense.

That has to change in 2019.

Fortunately, there is reason for optimism around Vorhees, who may benefit from the tutelage of offensive line coach Tim Drevno, as well as the simplification of USC’s blocking schemes.

He put in solid work during Spring Camp and now carries the weight of being the veteran figure on the offensive front.

Stats to know: 73

  • Defensive back Charles Phillips was USC’s 72nd All-American in 1974.
  • Linebacker Junior Seau picked up All-American honors in 1989 with 72 tackles, including 27 tackles for loss. He also had 12 deflections.
  • Quarterback Carson Palmer finished his Heisman-winning career with 72 touchdowns. That was a Trojan record until Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley and Cody Kessler each surpassed him with their totals.
  • Michael Pittman’s trick-play punt return touchdown on special teams against UCLA in 2017 went for 72 yards to the endzone.

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