44 days to USC football: Garrett Arbelbide was here, there and everywhere in No. 44

RoT Countdown / Photo by University of Southern California/Collegiate Images via Getty Images
RoT Countdown / Photo by University of Southern California/Collegiate Images via Getty Images /

USC football’s best No. 44 was Garrett Arbelbide, a playmaking end who won All-American honors before helping the Trojans win a national title in 1931.

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The countdown to USC football’s 2019 season is down to 44 days.

While we wait for the season opener against Fresno State on August 31, Reign of Troy is looking back at the greats to have worn every Trojan jersey number, as well as the next prospects in line.

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Today, No. 44 goes under the microscope:

Who wore it best?

Garrett Arbelbide joined up with USC’s varsity team in 1929 and quickly made a name for himself as an up-and-coming end in No. 44.

In his second game as a Trojan, Arbelbide caught two touchdown passes. That season he totaled eight receptions for 197 yards and four touchdowns. USC didn’t keep receiving statistics until 1936, but here’s some perspective on those numbers: no Trojan topped his yardage until 1942.

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Offensive production wasn’t even where Arbelbide made his biggest impact that season.

“We were implored to please keep an eye on a great young offensive end, Garrett Arbelbide,” wrote A.T. Baum in the San Francisco Examiner after USC’s 7-0 win over the Cardinal. “We kept an eye on Mr. Arbelbide. In fact, you couldn’t keep your eyes off of him. He was here, there and everywhere and probably gummed up more Stanford plays and passes than any single Trojan.”

The next year, Arbelbide’s rise continued as he caught 12 passes for 288 yards and two touchdowns, drawing All-American votes.

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What was supposed to be his crowning season as a senior in 1931 didn’t exactly turn out that way. Struggling defensively and leaving USC exposed at end, Arbelbide was dropped from the starting lineup in the first month of the campaign.

He did, however, reclaim his role eventually and made a touchdown-saving tackle against Notre Dame as the Trojans pulled off a stunning upset in South Bend. The victory, which was the first for the men of Troy on the Irish home turf, would be key as USC claimed their second ever national title that season.

“Quiet, unassuming, studious” Phil Gaspar, as described the the Los Angeles Times, was an all-conference selection for USC at tackle while also handling kicking duties for the Trojans in 1939.

Over the next two years, the next No. 44 Bob Robertson led USC in scoring at quarterback on his way to all-conference honors.

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In 1949 fullback Bill Martin followed him up by leading the team in scoring and picking up another all-conference nod for a man wearing a cardinal and gold No. 44 jersey.

Who wears it now?

The No. 44 is now unoccupied with former wearers defensive lineman Malik Dorton and walk-on wide receiver Matthew Hocum graduated.

Stats to know: 44

  • Defensive back Nate Shaw was USC’s 44th All-American of all-time in 1966.
  • Running back Anthony Davis had 44 career rushing touchdowns from 1972 to 1974.
  • Quarterback Grenny Lansdell completed a career-best 44 passes on 112 attempts in 1938.
  • Heisman-winning running back Reggie Bush ranks sixth all-time at USC in career punt returns with 44 for 559 yards and three touchdowns. Fellow Heisman winner Mike Garrett also totaled 44 returns with 498 yards and two touchdowns to rank ninth.
  • Wide receiver Ken Grace ranks 11ths on USC’s all-time kickoff return chart with 44 returns for 908 yards from 1993 to 1994.
  • Former Trojan head coach Larry Smith had a 44-25-3 record at USC.

Next. 45 Days to Kickoff