05/06/2010 - Southern California defensive tackle Christian Tupou is likely to miss the upcoming season after tearing a ligament in his left knee during the Trojans' final scrimmage of the spring. USC learned of the injury's severity Wednesday. Tupou will need surgery. Tupou has been the Trojans' starting nose tackle for the past two seasons. The injury occurred in the third quarter of the spring game when his knee buckled with nobody touching him. Tupou made 25 tackles last season, including four for losses. The Trojans are deep at defensive tackle, with Hebron Fangupo set to return from a leg injury and DaJohn Harris impressing new coach Lane Kiffin during spring practices. Tupou says he plans to use a redshirt season to return in 2011. - AP Sports
Tupou (TWO-poe) was a top-50 DL recruit, choosing USC over Arizona State, Nebraska and Oregon State. He saw action as a reserve in 2007 as a true freshman, but didn?t record any stats. Tupou started as a back-up NT in 2008 as a sophomore, but soon took over the starting duties, starting the final 10 games and finishing with 12 tkls, 3.0 tfl and 1 pbu. He was again the starting NT in 2009 as a junior and had his best season, recording 25 tkls, 4.0 tfl, 1.5 sacks and 2 FF, earning All-Pac 10 Honorable Mention honors. Tupou was set to start as a senior, but suffered a torn ligament in his left knee in May and sat out the 2010 season. He returned healthy in 2011 and started all 12 games, finishing with 16 tkls, earning All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention honors.
Tupou has good starting experience on his r?sum?, including returning from a serious knee injury to start every game as a senior, but was a member of a rotation-heavy defensive line and wasn?t an every down player. He is an explosive player and is routinely the first defensive player to move off the snap. Tupou has very good first step quickness. He is an aggressive and attacking defender with good chase skills, but plays stiff and will be limited at the next level as a part-time NT. Tupou looks like a solid third day prospect who will be able to make a roster based on his competitive nature and passion.
Strengths: Tupou fires off the snap with natural burst and excellent get-off speed. He is almost always the first defensive lineman off the ball. Tupou is a plugger in the middle with very good base strength to anchor and occupy multiple blockers. He is stout at the POA. Tupou is a hard-nosed player and takes on blocks with a fiery playing style. He is very active and plays with a nonstop motor. Tupou flies all over the field and is like a magnet to the ball. He has a lot of starting experience as a three-year starter for a talent-rich program (33 career starts). Tupou was a defensive captain in 2011 and earned a lot of respect from his coaches for his work ethic. He also has good bloodlines (brother played tackle at Oregon and spent the 2011 season on the New Orleans Saints practice squad).
Weaknesses: Tupou looks undersized on the field with limited growth potential to get any bigger or stronger. He needs to do a better job disengaging blocks at the POA and keeping himself clean through contact. Tupou has suspect hand use. He plays with some bad habits and drops his head off the snap, causing him to lose sight of the ball. Tupou is stiff throughout his frame and isn?t a natural bender. He missed all of 2010 with torn ligaments so his durability needs to check out. Despite three seasons as a starter, Tupou wasn?t very productive at the college level with only 1.5 career sacks and 7.0 tfl (only 16 total tackles as a senior).
NFL Comparison: Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals
-- Dane Brugler