BRYMER BLOCKS: A BOON.
Chris Brymer could not understand the second-glances he was drawing when he went to school Thursday, because they had nothing to do with the usual looks a 6-foot-3, 300-pound football player might draw on campus.
``Hey, the back of your shirt is wet,'' a friend finally said.
Brymer examined his dry shirt, then realized he had forgotten it had been used as an oil rag, and was splotched with stains.
The good-natured offensive lineman laughed off the incident, saying, ``I'm not here for a fashion show.''
Brymer wasn't worried about his clothes because for the first time in five weeks he will be playing football.
Specifically, his highly anticipated return today when USC plays No. 4-ranked Arizona State at 12:30 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium.
Brymer, who fractured his left foot against Oregon State on Sept. 14, has made a quicker-than-anticipated recovery and will start for the Trojans at left guard.
Although Brymer is an offensive lineman, his return has been treated around USC more like a star quarterback or tailback's reappearance. Brymer might not be fully recovered, but USC coaches are just pleased to have him in any form.
``Brymer at 80 percent is better than anyone else at 100 percent,'' offensive line coach Mike Barry said.
Brymer is just as eager to return to playing. Not only did he fracture his foot, he tore a tendon on the bottom of his instep and strained a tendon on top of his foot.
``When I got the X-rays, they said I had previously broken three bones in my foot I didn't even know about,'' Brymer said.
But none of this would deter Brymer from willing himself back onto the football field. He has already been through too much to allow his career to be derailed once again.
Brymer was forced to sit out last season when he was declared academically ineligible.
``I was an outcast,'' he said. ``It was really depressing.''
After an impressive season as a redshirt freshman in 1994, when he started six of the last seven games, Brymer was relegated to the Trojans' scout team in 1995.
There were reports USC coach John Robinson told Brymer to leave, but Brymer said Robinson always wanted him to stay. He just forced Brymer to either shape up or face the consequences.
``Chris is a kid who loved football but hated school,'' Robinson said.
During his season in purgatory, Brymer became a student again. He attended classes and began to improve his grades.
``I've kind of just gotten into the attitude that you've got to go to class,'' Brymer said. ``I have an attitude where last year I screwed up and I'm not going to let it happen again.''
It was not the first time Brymer had gotten into trouble.
His senior year at Apple Valley High School, Brymer was found to be in possession of illegal drugs.
``That thing was just another mistake. I've had two mistakes in my life,'' Brymer said. ``I was hanging with the wrong crowd. I regret it. It was stupid.''
Both of these mistakes could have easily ended Brymer's football career. But this season, it finally appeared that he had overcome his problems.
He became the leader of the Trojans' inexperienced offensive line and was by far the best player.
Then came the injury.
During an extra-point attempt against Oregon State last month, someone stepped on his foot. Doctors originally said he would be out until November, and Brymer's head became filled with the negative thoughts of spending another season on the sideline.
``The first week I hurt my foot it got really depressing,'' Brymer said. ``I thought `How could it happen to me again?' ''
It got worse watching the offensive line, particularly the left side Brymer plays on, struggle the past two weeks.
It is probably not a coincidence that USC's offensive line has allowed 13 sacks the past two games.
``It was pretty aggravating and depressing to see Brad (Otton) get sacked so many times,'' Brymer said.
USC (4-2, 2-1) AT NO. 4 ARIZONA STATE (6-0, 3-0)
Kickoff: 12:30 p.m. at Sun Devil Stadium (capacity: 73,656)
TV/Radio: Channel 7 (ABC-TV), KLSX-FM (97.1).
Series:Tied 6-6. USC has won four of the past five meetings and three straight at Sun Devil Stadium. Last season, USC routed Arizona State 31-0 at the Coliseum as Delon Washington gained 125 yards.
Injury update: Linebacker Taso Papadakis (ankle) is out. Defensive end Willie Lowery (ankle) is questionable. Wide receivers Billy Miller (shoulder) and Chris Miller (ankle) will play. Arizona State leading rusher Michael Martin (neck) is out.
Players to watch: USC left guard Chris Brymer. His fractured foot might be a little sore, but the junior lineman will start and try to play the entire game. USC cornerback Daylon McCutcheon. He will likely get the task of trying to stop ASU receiver Keith Poole, who has eight touchdowns in only 21 receptions. USC quarterback Brad Otton. If the Trojans have any hope of winning, Otton will have to be quick and accurate against a fierce pass rush. USC defensive tackle Darrell Russell. Someone has to pressure Jake Plummer and it might as well be Russell. Arizona State defensive end Derrick Rodgers. He has five sacks this season and leads the Sun Devils' blitzing defense.
Box: USC (4-2, 2-1) AT NO. 4 ARIZONA STATE (6-0, 3-0) (see te xt)
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|Publication:||Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)|
|Date:||Oct 19, 1996|
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