CAREER: He has started all 36 games of his USC career.
1999: The big, strong, tough and aggressive Claridge will start for his fourth year on the right side of the offensive line (either at guard, where he's been his first 3 seasons, or tackle) as a senior in 1999 and he could be in line for All-American honors. He was selected to the 1999 pre-season All-American first team by Athlon magazine.
PAUL HACKETT SAYS: "Travis is doing what few offensive linemen have done in college football and that's be a 4-year starter. His impact and his improvement in technique and fundamentals were dramatic last season. He's primed to have his best year. He's a top-notch player with a superb future."
1998: Claridge proved to be one of college football's finest linemen as a junior in 1998 while starting for his third season at right offensive guard. He made the 1998 Football News All-American honorable mention and All-Pac-10 first teams, as well as USC's Offensive Lineman of the Year.
1997: Claridge started for his second season at right offensive guard as a sophomore in 1997. After the 1997 season, he had arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right shoulder and bone chips in his right ankle.
1996: Claridge, who started all of 1996 at right offensive guard as a first-year freshman, proved as good as advertised. He was named a 1996 Freshman All-American first teamer by The Sporting News. He became the first true freshman to start a season opener on the offensive line for USC since 1979 Lombardi Award winner Brad Budde did so at guard against Missouri in 1976. (Clay Hattabaugh was the last Trojan first-year freshman to start any game on the offensive line when he did so at Arizona in 1991 in the season's 10th contest. The last Trojan true freshman to start a season opener at any position was outside linebacker Willie McGinest versus Syracuse in the 1990 Kickoff Classic against Syracuse.) After the 1996 season, he had arthroscopic surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left shoulder.
HIGH SCHOOL: He was named a 1995 Parade All-American, USA Today All-USA first team, Super Prep All-American, Bluechip All-American (and Elite 22), Schutt Sports All-American, Student Sports Hot 100, Bluechip Best of the West, Super Prep All-Farwest, Bluechip All-Western, Student Sports All-West Coast, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first team, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100, Tacoma News Tribune Northwest Nuggets, Gatorade Washington MVP, Prep Illustrated Washington MVP, All-State AAA, Columbian News Dream Team and All-Greater St. Helen League Offensive Lineman MVP as a senior two-way tackle at Fort Vancouver High in Vancouver (Wash.). Parade, USA Today and Bluechip picked him as the nation's No. 1-rated prep offensive lineman. He had 125 knockdown blocks on offense and 97 solo tackles with 23 sacks on defense in 1995.
As a 1994 junior, he averaged 15 knockdown blocks a game and made All-State AAA and Columbian News Dream Team.
As a sophomore in 1993, he made the Columbian News Dream Team and All-Greater St. Helen League. In his career, he posted 405 knockdown blocks, 142 solo tackles and 36 sacks.
PERSONAL: He's a history major at USC. His nickname is "Trapper." He was born in Detroit, Mich., and also lived in El Toro, Calif. As a youngster, he worked out with some athletic trainers, including former Trojan and NFL lineman Marv Marinovich (1959, 1961-62), the father of ex-USC and NFL quarterback Todd Marinovich (1989-90).
TRAVIS CLARIDGE ON:
His performance: "I'm never satisfied with the way I played. Never. I think I've done all right considering the circumstances. I played my first two seasons on one arm. I blew out my left shoulder in the first game of my freshman year. And then I injured the other shoulder as a sophomore...I'm the same person I was when I first came here. I work hard. I play my butt off. That's all I can do...I feel like the leader of the offensive line because I'm the older guy and the other guys look up to me. All I can tell them to do is what I tell myself to do-just go out there, concentrate and just play as hard as you possibly can...I've taken a lot of heat, but that's fine. Give me the heat, don't give them the heat."
His goal: "I want to be the best lineman out there. I want to be the best of the best. That's my goal. Will I reach that goal? Well, if you shoot for the moon and miss, at least you're with the stars...I want to be the best lineman in the nation and I want to win at least one national championship."
Protecting the quarterback: "I take it personally when our quarterback gets hit. It's like somebody was slapping my mother in the face....I don't like to see my quarterback leaving the game dirty. I don't like to see him put hisuniform away to get it washed."
His playing style: "I just play hard. I don't ever quit...Every day, I just try to get better."
His demeanor: "Really, I'm a quiet guy. I don't talk very much. When I came in to USC, a lot of the team thought I was a cocky guy with a big ego."
Starting as a freshman: "That was my goal, to come in and start. I didn't want to redshirt. Why should you accept second when first is available? Once you do that, you tend to do it for the rest of your life...It was the hardest thing I've had to do, though. I played my first college game before I even set foot in a classroom."
His secret ambition of being a pro wrestler: "I'd want to be a bad guy. I want people to hate me when I'm wrestling. I think that would be fun, everybody booing!"
WHAT OTHERS SAY:
USC offensive line coach Steve Greatwood: "In the past, he was more demonstrative out there. He would get on guys, yell. I asked him to channel that energy into a positive vein. He accepted that. He has been the rock of the offensive line."
Former USC quarterback Brad Otton: "People worried about the right side of our line at first (in 1996) with him there. But that became the strength of our line. He took a lot of pride in putting people on their backs. He got very offended when people hit me and were on top of me. He took it personally."
Former USC offensive guard Chris Brymer: "Travis is going to be a great player. He's already impressive."
Earl Gustkey, Los Angeles Times: "Is Travis Claridge too good to be true? Has there ever been an 18-year-old offensive lineman this good? What's he going to be like in 1999, when he's a senior?...At a time in football when some players have more earrings than battle scars, Claridge's is the profile of the old-fashioned football player. He looks as if he has jumped off a page in Street & Smith's 1956 college football preview."
Thom Simmons, USC Report: "When you see him up close and in living color, you have to ask yourself how anything besides a redwood tree could be that big at 18...He is 6-6, 300 pounds of pure determination."
Steve Guiremand, Long Beach Press-Telegram: "Claridge is 6-foot-6, 300 well-chistled pounds and has a face that brings back memories of late pro wrestling star Dick the Bruiser."
Steve Bisheff, Orange County Register: "He has a face that looks like it belongs in one of those 1955 Street & Smith football annuals. An attitude that could be best described as 'early Dick Butkus.' Travis Claridge is not lean, but he is certainly mean."
TRAVIS CLARIDGE CAREER STATISTICS
TAC LS/YDS DFL FR 1996 (Fr.)... 1 0/0 0 0