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Remembering Junior Seau's All-American USC career

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer
For nearly everyone who follows the sport of football, Junior Seau -- dead Wednesday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at the age of 43 -- is known first and foremost as the heart of the great San Diego Chargers defenses of the '90s, a unit that propelled the 1994 Chargers team to a surprise Super Bowl berth.

But that's not the case in Los Angeles, where Seau first made his name as a terrorizing linebacker for the USC Trojans. After a slow start to his career due in part to academic concerns, Seau roared onto the scene in 1988 and 1989, collecting 107 tackles and 33 for loss.

His '89 season was one of the best in USC's distinguished defensive history as he totaled 19 sacks and 27 tackles-for-loss en route to All-American honors. He was named the 1989 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.

Seau's time at USC wasn't just about numbers, though; during his two-year career the Trojans amassed a 19-4-1 record, won two Pac-10 titles and played in back-to-back Rose Bowls. The following year Seau was taken by the Chargers in the first round of the 1990 NFL draft.

Seau's legacy lives on at USC in multiple ways, most substantially via the jersey number he wore for the Trojans, No. 55. Though not the founding member of the "55 Club" -- he was preceded by Trojan great Jack Del Rio -- Seau's success helped turn the jersey number into a Trojan tradition carried on by the likes of Willie McGinest, Keith Rivers, and Chris Claiborne.

Seau was inducted into the USC Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009 and one year earlier became a member of the Trojan "Ring of Honor" at the L.A. Coliseum where he had first made his name:

So it's no surprise that several Trojans both past and present mourned Seau's loss via Twitter Wednesday:
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