USC's Matt Kalil makes pancakes
Running back? Linebacker? The greatest Trojans tradition may be offensive tackle
At USC, it's an established tradition that current Trojans like to talk about past players at their respective positions and the legacies that have developed there.Running backs Marc Tyler and D.J. Morgan refer to their school as "RBU," or Running Back University, a direct reference to guys like O.J. Simpson, Marcus Allen and Charles White who starred at USC and went on to success in the NFL. Linebackers Dion Bailey and Hayes Pullard prefer the term "LBU," a credit to Junior Seau, Chris Claiborne and Clay Matthews, among others, who also went to school at USC and did well in the NFL. But there's no "OTU." And maybe there should be, because through two games this season, Trojans left tackle Matt Kalil is reminding many observers of the all-time great offensive tackles who have come through USC over the years.
“At 6-foot-7 and 295 pounds, Kalil has the size. He also has the smarts and DNA. His father, Frank, spent a year in the NFL in the 1980s. His brother, Ryan, a former USC standout, is a two-time Pro Bowler and the highest-paid center in NFL history at age 26.
Coming to a school with top-tier tackles like [Anthony] Munoz and [Sam] Baker was big for me. They set that kind of tradition that each guy coming in here now looks up to and sees these great tackles, and they're inspired to be there one day.” -- Matt Kalil
The guidelines are in place for Kalil to become next great tackle out of USC, even if he won't say it."I just look at myself as being the best player I can be," Kalil said this week. "All this stuff comes naturally. I'm just doing what I can to be the best player I can be." Kalil, 22, is much more guarded in interviews now than he was upon his arrival in 2008. He was a go-to guy for good quotes back then. Now, he mostly toes the company line, a normal process for any Trojan in recent years but one accelerated in his case by his increasingly high profile and the success of his brother. Still, Kalil offered a good glimpse into his psyche after Saturday's dramatic 23-14 win over Utah. When asked by a reporter what he would have done had his game-ending field-goal block been called back because of the Trojans' unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the ensuing return, Kalil had a response at the ready. "I would've blocked it again," he said. Kalil won't say he sees himself as the next-generation dominant USC left tackle. But he does say the previous generations of "OTU" played a role in his decision to sign with USC out of Anaheim Servite three years ago. "Coming to a school with top-tier tackles like Munoz and Baker was big for me," Kalil said this week. "They set that kind of tradition that each guy coming in here now looks up to and sees these great tackles, and they're inspired to be there one day." "As an offensive lineman, you're more part of a unit," he says. "No one really says how each individual player played. When most people bring up the game it's how did the offensive line play, not how did the left tackle play.
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Pedro Moura covers USC for ESPNLA.com.
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