USC recruit shows why he's nation's best linebacker
Posted: Tuesday January 9, 2007 3:04PM; Updated: Tuesday January 9, 2007 3:31PM
Chris Galippo solidified his position as the nation's top linebacker, winning the MVP at last Saturday's U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He will attend USC.
Each week SI.com will select the athlete who displays excellence on and off the field as the Primetime Performer.
Chris Galippo, LB, 6-foot-2, 235 pounds, Servite (Anaheim, Calif.) High
Entering the seventh U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio last Saturday, USC-bound linebacker Chris Galippo had already solidified his standing as one of the nation's top recruits. After his performance in the Alamodome, though, Galippo raised expectations to an even higher level.
The powerful linebacker from Servite High in Anaheim, Calif., made 11 tackles as the West defense yielded just 57 yards in a 24-7 victory over the East before a record crowd of 35,151.
"Without a doubt, he's the best linebacker in the country," said recruiting analyst Tom Lemming after watching Galippo become the first defensive player to win the Pete Dawkins MVP award, joining Vince Young, Ted Ginn, Jr., Chris Leak, and Chris Wells as former winners. "He made a lot of great, great plays. He was knocking people backwards."
To those who have watched Galippo's development and standout performances over the year, Saturday's nationally-televised showcase was nothing new. "He's always been the guy who makes the plays," says Galippo's coach, Frank Kalil, who watched the game on NBC. "He looked the same -- it's just that it was on TV."
Galippo, who will attend Southern Cal, set Servite records for most tackles in a season, 158 as a junior, and for a career (381). He also had 10 blocked kicks and 13 sacks in his career. As a senior he had 17 tackles for losses. He set such high standards that on a rare occasion when he made only 10 tackles, people would say he had a quiet night.
His most impressive game was a 15-tackle effort in a 21-7 victory last fall against St. John Bosco (Bellflower). He also had four sacks and blocked two field goal attempts and amassed 143 all-purpose yards while playing receiver, running back and tight end.
Surprisingly, he started his football career at age nine as an offensive guard in the Junior All-American League in Corona, Calif. The next year, however, Kalil, who has coached him since that first year, moved him to linebacker. "He was just too athletic to play O-line," Kalil explains. "We had to put our better athlete at middle linebacker. For as big as he is, he moves so well."
"He is one of the hardest workers I ever have seen," Kalil adds. "He just knows where the ball is. He's very smart in the classroom and that spills over."
Galippo, who has a 3.0 GPA and plans to major in communications at USC, with a minor in business will learn under the best in college. Galippo grew up a huge Ken Norton Jr. fan, and now Norton, a USC defensive assistant, will have a direct impact in molding Galippo's career.
"I don't expect to redshirt," Galippo says. "I definitely believe I can crack that lineup."