Markowitz fulfilling a 'dream' at USC

The Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl-bound Trojans got a taste of the glitz and glamour of the Strip following the team’s practice on Sunday, but it’s likely that Abe Markowitz never had a clue. Because while many of his teammates took part in a post-workout photo opportunity with a pair of showgirls, the 6-foot-1, 305-pound center/guard was off on the far side of the field getting some extra work in. By the time he made his way toward the exit, all of the commotion had long since ended.

“There’s practice and the set schedule of things we do in it every day, but if you have something to work on that isn’t in that schedule, you need to make the time and work on it,” Markowitz said. “Today, that’s what I was doing, and hopefully it helps the team out.”

It’s that blue-collar, no-nonsense work ethic that has served Markowitz well in his long and winding career at USC, as he’s shown the consistent ability to step up for his team whenever he’s been called upon. And now, with Marcus Martin sidelined with a knee injury, the sixth-year senior will see his efforts pay off one last time when he lines up as the Trojans’ starting center against Fresno State on Dec. 21.

“I’m trying not to let my emotions get involved in anything,” said Markowitz, who will be making the third start of his career, and the first of 2013. “Every game this season, I’ve prepared like I was a starter -- that’s what you do here. That showed, unfortunately, in the UCLA game when Marcus got hurt, and I stepped right in and fulfilled my role for the team. So, this is just another week for me. Maybe in a couple of months when I’m done with my USC experience I can look back and see how special of an experience this was, but right now we’re all just locked in.”

The Honolulu Punahou product has certainly made his mark for the Trojans, but his career has been anything but conventional.

Markowitz, whose grandfather, Larry, also played football for the Trojans, and whose father, Barry, played across town at UCLA, chose to walk on at USC in 2008 despite holding scholarship offers from the likes of Michigan State and Miami (Ohio). Quickly making a name for himself on the practice field, he was awarded a scholarship in 2010. Ultimately missing that season as well as the next with foot injuries, Markowitz came back to enjoy an extremely productive 2012 campaign, registering two starts and serving a crucial function as a more-than-reliable reserve.

Originally informed following last season that the Trojans no longer had room for him due primarily to an issue involving scholarship limitations stemming from NCAA sanctions, he was close to landing at the University of Hawaii in the offseason before, in a surprise turn of events, he was eventually cleared to rejoin the team at USC in July after gaining a sixth year of eligibility. And while he would no longer be on scholarship, for Markowitz, who had developed deep roots at the university, the simple fact that he was able to remain a Trojan was what counted most

“I love this place and I’ve definitely enjoyed being here,” said Markowitz, who took out a loan to help pay for his final semester of college. “Just being in Southern California, the weather, the culture, my grandparents live here, and I just wanted to finish here.”

Markowitz’s return also afforded him the opportunity to realize a dream of playing in front of family and friends in his home state when the Trojans took on the Rainbow Warriors in Honolulu in this year’s opener. A contest in which he filled in at right guard for a significant portion of the game, it stands out as one of the highlights of his time at USC.

“I got to play a lot in front of my home fans there,” said Markowitz, who also participated as a shot putter and discus thrower on the USC track and field program. “My parents were there, old neighbors, people that had really helped me out in high school, and that was really big for me. That was a special thing that I wanted to do, and part of coming back was playing in that game in Hawaii.”

And now Markowitz, who is hoping to get a shot at the NFL, is on the cusp of finishing his USC career off in fitting style when the Trojans take on the Bulldogs in less than a week. And while he’s determined to do everything he can leading up to the contest to ensure that he’s prepared, when it comes to the long-term, it’s safe to say that his legacy is already set in stone.

“I just want to be remembered as a guy who chased his dream,” Markowitz said. “I’ve had my few opportunities, and this is my last one. I want kids to know that if they want to chase their dream of walking on some place, then they should do that, because as long as you have the work ethic, and you surround yourself with people that believe in your dream, you can achieve whatever you want.”