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April 2, 2010

Abe's honest answer: Be prepared

Abe Markowitz says you can't pick your spot, just be ready for your chance when it comes.

As it did Thursday.

"You just have to be prepared so you're ready whenever it happens," says the redshirt sophomore walk-on who started spring practice as USC's backup center after the No. 2 man there, Michael Reardon, cracked a bone in his neck in an ATV rollover last weekend.

Then starter Kristofer O'Dowd had his left knee rolled up on and had to leave practice Thursday with ice on his mild knee sprain. He's day-to-day and could return Saturday for the first day of full pads work. Or maybe not.

"AT USC, you'd better be ready to play center if you're an offensive lineman," says Markowitz, who can tick off the names of eight different Trojans the past two seasons who have played center -- or could if called upon.

Right now, backing him up could be redshirt freshman John Martinez, just 18, who Trojans offensive line coach James Cregg was hoping could concentrate on guard this year after playing three positions last season.

At 6-2 1/2, Markowitz is up to 295 pounds now and alternating two spring sports. He's also a shot putter whose best throw this spring, 53-11, is close to the 54/55 feet needed to qualify for the Pac-10 championships and the 56 feet it will take to get into the NCAAs.

The shotput work and snapping the football actually complement each other, Markowitz said.

"They're not quite the same but you do use your hips and drive off the ball," he said. "And I'm doing a lot better (throwing)."

It hasn't hurt that new USC director of strength and conditioning, Aaron Ausmus, is a former NCAA indoor shotput champion and they do talk about the sport.

"He's a good inspiration," Markowitz said.

But with all his football duties now, he'll probably not get back to competing in a meet until a month from now against UCLA on the same day as the Trojan Huddle spring game.

"I'm trying to work that out," said Markowitz, a native of Hawaii whose grandfather, Larry Markowitz, was a USC running back from 1951 through 1953 and whose father, Barry, was a UCLA linebacker.

He chose to follow his grandfather to Troy, he said. And now he's got the chance "to prove I can play," Markowitz said. "I've been preparing myself every day."

A teammate of Punahou School alum Manti Te'o, a freshman linebacker star at Notre Dame, the pair come from the same Laie neighborhood.

Dan Weber covers the Trojans program for USCFOOTBALL.COM. You can reach him at weber@uscfootball.com.


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