Rose Bowl Injury Report: USC Largely Injury-Free, Penn State Concerns Grow

The Trojans have enjoyed some injury luck, while the Nittany Lions could use more. Here’s the injury report for both USC and Penn State heading into the 2017 Rose Bowl.

USC football has been no stranger to devastating injury concerns. In fact, with a roster already ravaged by sanctions, the Trojans injury luck in past seasons seemed particularly unfair.

It seems the good karma has come around in USC’s favor now though. Clay Helton and company have had a touch of good fortune in 2016 with relatively few injury troubles to report.

The Trojans lost starters or potential starters like Kenny Bigelow, Toa Lobendahn and Steven Mitchell in 2016, but the pool of players currently unavailable is as small as it has been in recent memory.

Running backs Justin Davis and Aca’Cedric Ware are both nearing full returns after ankle injuries hampered them in the latter half of the season.

Meanwhile, nagging injuries carried by starters like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Deontay Burnett, Uchenna Nwosu and Stevie Tu’ikolovatu have had time to heal up since the end of the regular season.

Minor knocks to quarterback Sam Darnold, tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe and Smith-Schuster during practice last week don’t appear serious either.

As it stands, back up center Khaliel Rodgers has missed time going through concussion protocol while back up cornerback Jonathan Lockett and reserve tackle Nathan Smith both ended their seasons last week with surgeries for a hip injury and ACL tear respectively.

USC Injury Report:

  • Out for the season: DT Kenny Bigelow (knee), CB Jonathan Lockett (hip), C Toa Lobendahn (knee), WR Steven Mitchell (knee), OT Nathan Smith (knee)
  • Out: DL Noah Jefferson (transfer), OLB Jabari Ruffin (suspension)
  • Questionable: C Khaliel Rodgers (concussion)
  • Probable: QB Sam Darnold (hip), TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe (hamstring, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (wrist)

Penn State Injury Report:

  • Out for the season: TE Nick Bowers (undisclosed), LB Jason Cooper (undisclosed), LB Jan Johnson (leg), OL Brendan Mahon (undisclosed), OL Andrew Nelson (knee), OL Paris Palmer (undisclosed), WR Brandon Polk (undisclosed), OL Chance Sorrell (knee), LB Jason Vranic (undisclosed), LB Nyeem Wartman-White (knee), LB Von Walker (undisclosed)
  • Out: LB Manny Bowen (suspension), WR Saeed Blacknall (suspension)

The Nittany Lions have suffered a slew of injuries across two key positions — offensive line and linebacker.

On the offensive line, a season-ending injury to tackle Brendan Mahon was confirmed by James Franklin a couple of weeks ago. Mahon was just the latest lineman to go down, starting with Andrew Nelson at right tackle and then Paris Palmer at left tackle. Redshirt sophomore Chance Sorrell also decided to retire due to nagging injuries.

At linebacker, Penn State had hoped to finally have the services of Nyeem Wartman-White after missing las season due to a knee injury. However, the linebacker suffered another season-ending knee injury in Week 3 versus Temple.

Shortly after Wartman-White was lost, walk-on contributor Jan Johnson went down with a leg injury. Later in the season, Jake Cooper, whose role was increased due to injuries in the unit, also missed out with injury. In November, special teams contributor and back up Von Walker became the latest linebacker to have his season ended.

Injuries aren’t the only thing dogging the Lions heading into the Rose Bowl. Two key suspensions have thrown a wrench in Penn State’s plans, with linebacker Manny Bowen and receiver Saeed Blacknall held out due to a violation of team rules.

Bowen’s absence will see Koa Farmer step into the line up, but any one of Cooper, Johnson or Walker might have supplied greater depth if they had remained healthy.

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