54 days to USC football: Chris Galippo missed on hype, but still owns No. 54

RoT Countdown / Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images (Reign of Troy)
RoT Countdown / Photo by Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images (Reign of Troy) /

Chris Galippo may not have lived up to the five-star hype, but he’s still the best to have worn the No. 54 for USC football.

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USC football is now 54 days away.

The Trojans will kickoff against Fresno State on August 31 at the Coliseum and while the days continue to tick down, the season is still plenty far off.

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So we at Reign of Troy are examining cardinal and gold jerseys and the men behind the numbers. Today, that means a look at No. 54:

Who wore it best?

The history of the No. 54 jersey pales in comparison to that of its neighbor No. 55. That’s why the greatest to wear the number is, of all people, Chris Galippo.

The former five-star linebacker, who was rated sixth in the class of 2007, was never able to live up to the high expectations which followed him from high school.

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He missed out on his true freshman season because of a herniated disc then returned as a backup in 2008.

After the departure of several key starters in 2009, Galippo took his place in the starting lineup at middle linebacker and made enough of an impression to finish as a semifinalist for the Butkus Award while taking home an All-Pac-12 honorable mention and grabbing a place on the CollegeFootballNews.com Sophomore All-American first team.

He even delivered a near-recreation of Rey Maualuga’s pick six against Ohio State the year before by returning his own interception against the Buckeyes 51 yards to set up a Trojan touchdown.

While fans may have hoped his career would launch from there, it didn’t exactly work out that way. Galippo was shuffled out of the middle linebacker role for part of his junior campaign, though he returned to that position to finish out the season. He was named USC’s Special Teams Player of the Year.

As a senior in 2011, he once again dealt with back issues and lost his starting job midway through the season.

A fully healthy Galippo may have come closer to delivering on the promise of his recruiting profile, but as it is he did what he could to contribute at the very least.

Who wears it now?

At the start of 2018 , the No. 54 was worn by two different players, but quite a bit has changed since then.

Linebacker Tayler Katoa left the Trojans to go on his Mormon mission and could return in due time to pick the jersey back up.

Offensive lineman Jalen McKenzie wore the number all of last season while filling in as the backup for Chuma Edoga at right tackle.

However, with Edoga’s graduation, the No. 70 came available and McKenzie swapped for that jersey at the beginning of Spring Camp.

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Unless an incoming freshman picks up No. 54 this summer, it will be vacant for the year.

Stats to know: 54

  • Offensive tackle Sid Smith was USC’s 54th ever All-American in 1969.
  • There have been 54 consensus All-Americans in Trojan history.
  • Former head coach Jeff Cravath, who managed the Trojans from 1942 through 1950, totaled 54 career wins. That’s fifth all-time at USC.
  • USC has 54 ties in the history of the program.
  • Quarterback Grenny Lansdell led the Trojans with 54 points when they won the national title in 1939.
  • College Football Hall of Fame halfback Frank Gifford finished his career in 1951 with 54 passes completed out of 111 attempted.
  • Quarterback Rodney Peete had 54 career passing touchdowns, ranking eighth in USC history.
  • When the Coliseum was renovated in 1993 by lowering the field and removing the running track, fans in the first row of seats were brought no more than 54 feet from the sideline, compared to the 120 feet from before.

55 Days to Kickoff. Next