Tackle Kris O'Dowd was a highly decorated player at Salpointe.


Through Friday, the Star will count down the top 10 football players from each major Southern Arizona high school program:

School: Salpointe Catholic

The best: Kris O'Dowd

Achievements: O'Dowd may be the most decorated lineman to come out of Southern Arizona. The 6-foot-5-inch, 315-pound star was named the 5A Southern Region Offensive Player of the Year and the All-Southern Arizona Player of the Year his senior year when he also became the fourth Tucsonan since 1990 to be named a Parade All-American.

O'Dowd was also selected as an Army All-American, joining 2004 graduate John Kadous as the only other Lancer to earn that honor. With all the recognition, O'Dowd had several big-time colleges interested and had offers from Ohio State, Miami, Tennessee, UCLA, USC and the UA among others. He chose to become a Trojan and made an even bigger impact with USC after he made a smooth transition to becoming a center for the first time after playing tackle in high school. He was named to Sporting News' Pac-10 All-Freshman team in 2007 despite missing some time with a dislocated right kneecap, and was a first-team All-Pac-10 selection and USC's Lineman of the Year as a sophomore when he started all 13 games as the Trojans went 12-1 and won the Rose Bowl.

His performance that year put him as a potential first-round selection in the NFL draft following his junior season, but injuries slowed him. O'Dowd has since had tryouts with the Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets and Seattle Seahawks but was never able to make a regular-season roster.

From the archives: "We've got 26 players on college rosters and three kids who are going to play in a bowl game this year. With that said, Kris O'Dowd is the best football player I've ever coached. He's tremendous." - Salpointe coach Dennis Bene in the Dec. 15, 2006, Arizona Daily Star

The big number: 3. O'Dowd was only the third true freshman at USC to start a post-World War II opener on the offensive line. Furthermore, as a center, he was the first true freshman to start at that position for the Trojans.

Coming up: Find out who the all-time top 10 players from Santa Rita are in Tuesday's Star.

Daniel Gaona

On StarNet: View photos of Salpointe Catholic High School's top 10 football athletes at: azstarnet.com/gallery

Salpointe Top 10

1. Kris O'Dowd, OL/DL, 2007

2. Jeff Heidrick, FB/LB, 1982

3. Chris Hopkins, RB/DB, 1992

4. John Fina, OL/DL, 1987

5. Tyler Graunke, QB, 2004

6. Joe Rowley, RB/DB, 1983

7. Frank Garcia, ATH/P/K, 1975

8. Herbie Jones, FB/LB, 1965

9. Rich Ellerson, OL/DL, 1972

10. Johnny Peña, RB/LB, 2013