Where are they now?

I recently had an opportunity to sit down with the "original" #32, Jim Sears. Jim lettered from 1950-52 and was an All-American in 1952. He was in the running for the 1952 Heisman Trophy (seventh) and was voted the Outstanding Player and Most Valuable Senior on the Pacific Coast. In his illustrious career, he led USC in several categories: passing, total offense, punt returns, kickoff returns, and scoring.

You were born and raised in Los Angeles, starred at Inglewood High School.
Were you a Trojan fan growing up?

I was born in Los Angeles on March 20, 1931.  I had one brother and
one sister, both older than I was.  I lived in Inglewood throughout my
grammar school, junior high and high school years.  I did not even think
about going to college until my last year in high school.  My idol was
Glenn Davis of Army.  I even wore his number - 41 in high school.  I read
all about USC and how big it was and thought that their players were all
great.

You then went on to El Camino College. Why did you choose USC? Was it for
the
education? Was it for the tradition? Coaching?

I went to El Camino Junior College because I had to make up my
foreign language requirement to enter college.  My coach was Amby
Schindler who had been a really big star at USC.  He is in the Hall of
Fame at USC.  My high school coaches were Doug Essick and Marty Ernaga.
They both went to USC.  I chose USC because an assistant coach by the
name of Ray George.  I thought that he was a great coach and I wanted to
coach eventually.  I was really impressed with him and the way he
presented USC when I visited the campus.  Because I had so many coaches
that had gone to USC, I wanted to go there and be like them.  I am glad
that I did go to USC, it is a great school.

This was in the era when players played both offense and defense. What
positions did you play?

My first year was 1950 and my coach was Jeff Cravath.  He was a tough
coach and I was lucky that he liked me.  I started my first year with Al
Carmichael, who became my very good friend and still is today.  When I
first met Al, he was 6' tall and weighed 195 pounds.  He looked like Jim
Thorpe to me.  Seeing him, I really thought that I had made a big mistake
coming to USC.  Then, I went out on the field for practice and met Frank
Gifford and I thought for sure that I had made a mistake in coming to
USC.  Fortunately, I played both ways - halfback on offense and safety on
defense.  I also ran back punts and kickoffs.  I was lucky, I made some
good returns and running plays.

I'm sure you've had many, but what was your most memorable game or games?

I have two most memorable games.  One was against Notre Dame in 1950
when I ran a kickoff back for 94 yards.   It remained the longest kickoff
return in USC history until Anthony Davis ran two kickoffs back for
touchdowns - both surpassed my record in yardage.   The other game was
against UCLA in 1952.  I handed the ball off to Al Carmichael on a
reverse.  He ended up running to the right and worked his way back my
way.  Just as he was going down, I yelled to him and he lateralled the
ball back to me and I ran in for a touchdown.  Later in that game we were
down on UCLA's goal around the 3 or 4 yards from the goal.  The score was
12 to 7 in UCLA's favor.  I called a play that coach Jess Hill had put in
for that game.  I was to fake going off tackle  and jump up for a pass to
our tight end but then throw the ball to Al Carmichael who was at
flanker.  I threw the jumping pass and hit Al on the goal line and he
scored.  It was great scoring on a run and then a pass against UCLA.

You had some great teammates. Can you name a few and do you stay in touch
with
them?

I was very lucky to have played at USC when there were some great
players.  Frank Gifford was my other idol.  I tried to walk like him,
play like him and act like him.  We were friends and two other friends
were Al Carmichael and Johnny Williams.  I think that  the USC team of
1952 was the greatest team that I played on.  Our opponents only scored
47 points against us that whole year.  All of the players on that team
were great players.  I have been President of the Trojan Football Alumni
club and have been able to stay in contact with all of my fellow players.
 We will be celebrating our 50th year of our football team this year at
the Salute To Troy in August, 2002.

Who was the toughest player you played against?

The toughest ball player that I played against was Don Moomaw from
UCLA and he became a good friend after that.  Some of the toughest
players that I played against were my fellow players on the USC 1952 team
in our practices.  In the NFL, Hardy Brown a line backer for the 49ers
and Detroit  was very tough.  Also, Big Daddy Lipscom of the Baltimore
Colts who separated my shoulder was especially tough.

After USC, you went on to the NFL. Who did you play for?

After playing at USC, I was drafted by the Baltimore Colts.  They
were just starting their first year.  Before reporting, I was lucky
enough to play in the College All Star game in Chicago against Detroit
ball players like Doak Walker and Bobby Layne.  I didn't go to the Colts
because I had to first finish ROTC for the Air Force.  I was traded to
the Chicago Cardinals the next year.  My defensive coach at USC went to
the Cardinals and got Baltimore to trade me to the Cardinals.  I played
that year behind Ollie Matson and ran back punts and kickoffs.  Because
of my ROTC training, I was called up in 1955 and was in the service for 2
1/2 years.  Then I came back to the Cardinals for 2 years.  After that I
coached the defensive backs at USC for one year.  At that time the Los
Angeles Chargers, starting their first year, drafted me and I played with
them that year and was then traded to the Denver Broncos.

I hear you even coached with John McKay. Tell us about that.

In 1959 I was asked by Don Clark, the head coach at  USC to be the
defensive backfield coach.  John McKay was the offensive coach.  He and I
got along great.  I learned a lot from him.  Our defense was 6th in the
nation that year.  The AFL started in 1960 and the Los Angeles Chargers
asked me if I wanted to play for them.  It was a matter of money -
$16,000 with a $2,000 bonus.  I was being paid $8,500 at USC.  Quite a
difference.  Now salaries have gone sky high.  I finished playing the
next year with the Denver Broncos.

After the NFL, what did you do?

After my pro career, I helped get a young man into USC and his father
introduced me to Fletcher Jones who was a big automobile dealer in the
Los Angeles area.  Fletcher later hired me as a salesman,  I made Sales
Manager in 6 months and later General Manager.  I worked for him for 10
years.  I then went into the business of manufacturing golf clubs.  For 4
years I made personalized golf clubs.  After  that, I was offered a job
in Las Vegas as General Manager for the Fletcher Jones Mercedes Benz
dealership.  I later managed a Nissan dealership in Las Vegas for 18
years.

When did you retire?

I retired in 1995.

What are you doing now?

Now that I am retired, I play golf with a group of ex-UCLA players.
I have 5 grand children ( 4 boys and 1 girl).  They are all good athletes
in soccer, football and hockey.  I have a great time watching them grow
and hope that their experiences in sports will help them in their adult
lives as I feel that it helped me.

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