Old School Toughness
Oct. 16, 2000
If you're looking for a throwback to the football players of old, look nofurther than USC fullback Charlie Landrigan.
The 6-0, 225-pound junior may have spent his high school days soaking upthe rays at Capistrano Valley High in Mission Viejo, Calif., but hisformative years were spent in the heart of Big Ten country. For much ofhis youth, he lived in Austin, Minn., a town of 25,000 where Hormel Foodsis the main employer and hockey is king. It was there that he learned thatit pays to play tough.
'In order to be a good fullback at USC, you have to commit yourself toblocking,' said Landrigan, who was born in Ottumwa, Ia. 'You have to comeout with your chinstrap buckled tight or you'll get blown up.'
Landrigan's old-school approach even extends to the kind of music to whichhe listens.
'I'm a big fan of Frank Sinatra's music,' Landrigan said. 'My mother alwaysused to play him and I'd try to switch the channel to some modern music.Before I knew it, I started to really like it. My favorite song is 'SummerWind.' When I'm in a personal mood, I'll listen to it. The ballads hesings are fun to sing along with.'
Sometimes he finds Sinatra's music can really hit home.
'After the Oregon State loss, I listened to 'When No One Cares,' and itreally seemed appropriate,' he said.
Landrigan started USC's last nine games in 1999, catching 11 passes for 64yards (he did not carry the ball). This season, he has started every gameand has three catches for 17 yards. He also has had a few chances to runthe ball.
'I'm not known for my running ability,' said Landrigan, who has carried theball three times for nine yards this season. 'A lot of fullbacks try to betailbacks out there. But at USC, you must realize that you are a blockerfirst.'
In high school, Landrigan played fullback, but was also an All-OrangeCounty linebacker. He had 124 tackles and four sacks his senior year. Hebelieves that his time as a linebacker helped to prepare him for playingfullback.
'Fullback is a lot like linebacker in that there are a lot of collisionsgoing on,' said Landrigan. 'The fullback is like the linebacker of theoffense. It's been a while since I've played linebacker, but I've alwayshad that defensive mentality.'
For a while, Landrigan had his heart set on returning to play in the BigTen, but as a basketball player, not a football player.
'I always wanted to play basketball for the Iowa Hawkeyes, who were my teamgrowing up,' said Landrigan, whose family moved to California during hisjunior high years. 'But by my freshman year of high school, I realized thatI wasn't that good of a basketball player and that football was my future.When it came time to choose a school, I was more than thrilled to pick USC.I really wanted to stay local.'
Landrigan's decision to play at USC was made easier when his high schoolbackfield mate, tailback Malaefou MacKenzie, also chose to join the Trojans.
'I still remember the day we decided to go to USC,' recalled Landrigan. 'Wetalked about how great it would be to someday be seniors and be running andblocking for each other. We've continued our friendship here and we enjoyrepresenting our hometown.'
One day, if he gets his chance, Landrigan hopes to represent his hometownconstituents in the realm of politics. The political science major is anavid Republican whose family history is intertwined with the Grand Old Party.
'My grandfather was the County Commisioner in Pembina County, North Dakota,which is in the Red River Valley in the Northwest corner of the state,'said Landrigan. 'I remember going to his house and seeing the Republicanelephant everywhere. Someday, I might run for office myself.'
Landrigan already has some experience running for elective office.
'I ran for a lot of things in high school,' Landrigan said. 'I was my classpresident. Then I ran for school president my senior year and lost out tomy ex-girlfriend. I had actually run just to spite her, but things didn'twork out!'
For now, Landrigan is content with his role as a USC fullback, where itdoesn't take votes to be a winner.