LOS ANGELES – Abe Markowitz remembers it all too well. It was his redshirt freshman season in 2009. After playing sparingly in the season opener against San Jose State, as a walk-on, he was left behind when the team traveled to Ohio State.
Then-freshman quarterback Matt Barkley led the team on a 95-yard, game-winning drive and the Trojans left the Horseshoe with an 18-15 win.
Markowitz didn’t get to experience the great comeback in person but, ever the optimist, he was just glad to see it.
“I got to go hang out with my friends and watch it in the Galen Center 3D,” Markowitz said. “That was almost just as cool. It was in 3D in the Galen Center!”
Before the 2012 season, Markowitz has done a lot of watching. He didn’t play at all in 2010 after being sidelined with foot injuries.
Two foot surgeries kept him from seeing the field in 2011.
Stepping on the field against Cal last Saturday to make the first start of his career was a humbling feat for the fifth-year senior.
“I was really grateful because the coaches had really good trust in me to help me get in that week,” Markowitz said. “(I’m) just grateful to be here.”
Markowitz was awarded a scholarship during the 2010 season. Before that, he had no idea how he was going to be able to continue his career as a student-athlete at USC.
“I didn’t know how I was going to pay for school just a month before that,” he recalled.
Knowing he was going to start heading into the Cal game, it wasn’t an opportunity he was going to take lightly, especially considering the long road it took to get there. He stayed after practice working on his snaps – when he thought he’d be getting the start at center – and also spent countless hours in the film room. Late hours.
“While I walked by the offensive line meeting room at 10 p.m. (last week),” Kiffin said “he was in there by himself watching film.
“That’s pretty late and some of these guys are here at 5:30 in the morning to start their day.”
The late night film sessions paid huge dividends.
“My preparation during the week really helped me in the game,” Markowitz said. “I went through like over 100 plays. I was like ‘holy crap, really?’”
Markowitz’s play in the win over Cal has warranted more playing time. He started at left guard in place of Marcus Martin. The offensive line powered the Trojans to 296 yards on the ground.
“I know that we’d like to keep him playing,” Kiffin said. “Regardless of who’s starting or who’s up, who’s down that week, he’s going to play.”
That’s fine by Markowitz.
“I absolutely want to work and be more than a one-game player,” he said. “I want to play in more games here and I really want to help the team out. They’ve giving me so much.”
As Kiffin applauded Markowitz and the rest of the offensive line following their performance over Cal last weekend, there was still something missing.
“We had 296 so we were disappointed,” said Markowitz of the offensive line. “We wanted a big, round number. We wanted 300.”
He’s up for the challenge. For the former walk-on, his work’s never done.