USC Trojans: Lincoln Kennedy

Redshirting OT Banner gets trip home

October, 12, 2012
10/12/12
5:24
AM PT
LOS ANGELES -- USC Trojans freshman offensive lineman Zach Banner is redshirting this season, so he has been left at home for each of the Trojans' three trips this year.

But coach Lane Kiffin is throwing him a bone this week and putting Banner on the travel squad for the team's game against Washington. Banner grew up in Tacoma, Wash., 30 miles from Seattle, where the game will be played, and was raised a Huskies fan.

Banner was elated to find out he'd be accompanying the team, even though he won't be playing unless something drastic happens.

"If I was gonna pick any trip, it'd be this one," he said this week.

The mammoth 6-foot-9, 335-pounder expects about 30 family members to attend and anticipated he'll be giving out a "a lot of love pats and I-miss-you's" on the field afterward.

Teams are allowed to take 70 players on conference road trips. Kiffin said NCAA-mandated scholarship limitations and normal injuries have left the Trojans with less than 70 available players who they could count on in a game.

"We're not at that point," Kiffin said. "So we take some guys that never play and so that's the good thing about the sanctions. ... Zach gets to go on a trip home and go up there.

"Hopefully we won't be doing that for many years."

Banner, the son of former NFL lineman Lincoln Kennedy, said he was stressing to himself that it was a business trip, regardless of the game's location. The fact that he went to several Huskies home games as recently as last season doesn't matter anymore, he said.

"One thing that's cool about it is Coach Kiff is giving me the opportunity not only to go home and see the family, something I'm not able to do because I'm not from around here, but he's also giving me the experience of what it's like to travel," Banner said this week. "Next year, for my real freshman year, I'm gonna know what it's like to travel and not have it phase me."

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