Freshman middle linebacker Lamar Dawson is back practicing fully for the Trojans this week and will play Saturday against Notre Dame for the first time in a month.
Dawson suffered a high-ankle sprain in the fourth quarter of the Syracuse game at the Coliseum in September and sat out of practice for the next two-plus weeks, returning lightly during the bye week only to end up sitting out against Cal. His absence caused the Trojans to play starter Chris Galippo more than they admitted they'd would have liked to, with seemingly little confidence in the players behind Dawson on the depth chart.
Wednesday, Dawson pronounced himself 100 percent after participating in all drills each of the last two days in practice. He has moved right back into the No. 2 spot at middle linebacker, where he is expected to back up Galippo for a couple of dozen snaps against the Irish on Saturday.
Dawson, from Kentucky, is one of three Trojans who hail from states that border Indiana. Receiver Kyle Prater (Illinois) and defensive end Nick Perry (Michigan) are the others. But he said he had no rooting history with the Irish, as he grew up a Kentucky fan.
His hometown of Junction City is a six-hour drive from the Notre Dame campus in South Bend, Ind. It's a hour drive to the Kentucky campus in Lexington. But he said he understands the USC-Notre Dame rivalry and the mass amount of hype surrounding the contest.
"It's just a bigger game," Dawson said. "It's Notre Dame, our rival. We've gotta win."
In other injury news, redshirt sophomore cornerback Torin Harris (shoulder) continued to sit out of practice and appears unlikely to suit up.