"To me, it means the love and the passion just to play football and to be committed to your family. The whole Samoan race is family-oriented. Whenever in times of battle, they have been great warriors historically...having football being our battleground."
Polamalu became USC's first 2-time All-American first team pick since offensive tackle Tony Boselli this past season. He played every down as if it were his last every time he stepped onto the field, and used enemy ball carriers as tackling dummies with his ferocious hitting. Simply put, Polamalu is a human missile with an unbelievable combination of speed, power and athleticism.
In his career as a 3-year starter, Polamalu had 278 tackles (29 stuffs), 6 interceptions (3 returned for TDs), 13 deflections, 2 fumble recoveries and 4 blocked punts. His 118 tackles in 2001, including twenty in the Las Vegas Bowl, were second in the PAC-10 and most at USC since 1986 when six-time NFL Pro Bowler Tim McDonald roamed the USC defensive backfield. He is hailed as the school's finest defensive back since the Ronnie Lott era (1977-80).
Troy Polamalu Aumua
Ht: 5-10 Wt: 203
Arm: 30 5/8
Hand: 10 3/8
Vertical Jump: 43.5
Broad Jump: 10' 7"
Squat: 600 pounds
Bench Press (High): 405 pounds
Bench Press: 25 reps
40 Times: 4.33/4.38
|"Hard hitting, intimidating safety who likes to mix it up. Flies around the football, displays a closing burst of speed on his way to the action and sacrifices his body to stop the ball carrier. Plays sideline-to-sideline, tough and mentally alert on the field. Works well with cornerbacks, improved his cover skills as a senior and does a solid job manning center field. Fluid in his hips and displays a good back pedal as well as sound cover fundamentals if placed over the slot receiver. Tough and plays with or through pain. True leader of a defense whose development and productivity as a senior was stunted by injury. Sized to play either safety position and has the mentality to be a killer on special teams. Could be starting late into his rookie season." Tony Pauline-TFY Draft Preview|
USC head coach Pete Carroll said, "He's as good a safety as I've ever coached. He's a brilliant football player. He's just as effective as those NFL guys I coached. He is creative, fast, tough and instinctive. He has a great heart, which all great players have. He adapts to everything that we can throw out there. He makes all the adjustments, all the checks, all the calls. He helps other people play well. He can do anything we ask: blitz, cover deep, play man-to-man, and he always does a little bit extra." Carroll puts him in the Ronnie Lott class, which may be stretching it a bit.
Polamalu's heart and motor only make it seem like he's in on every play. With his speed, he can blitz, and with his strength, he can stuff the run.
"The thing I like about the safety position is the freedom," said Polamalu. "You can see more of the field and have more room to react and make plays."
Polamalu is very quick to react to the plays. He has a sudden burst coming out of his backpedal and an explosive closing burst with the acceleration needed to stay with receivers on deep routes. He stays low in his pads, doing a nice job of mirroring the tight ends in the short area. Polamalu is quick in his zone assignment switch-offs and is very effective working deep. He has the leaping ability to combat for the ball at its highest point, showing excellent hand/eye coordination, makes plays on the ball, using his hands effectively to redirect the receivers and shed blocks at the point of attack. He remains aggressive in run support, filling the alley with force while showing above average quickness on the perimeter. He is also an excellent tackler, planting and driving with his legs while extending his arms properly to wrap and secure. He has an effortless stride, but can immediately accelerate to the ball.
Polamalu was the strongest pound for pound player on the USC team and knows how to set up a well-timed hit as receivers are constantly hearing his footsteps.
Polamalu is a playmaker on defense. He also claims special teams coverage is a favorite of his, instantly endearing himself to Chargers Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer and Steve Crosby certainly would appreciate the help.
One concern with Polamalu is the four concussions he has had dating back to his high school days. Having had three concussions myself I can tell you it is a valid concern. Consider how hard he hits the concern is magnified even more.
The Chargers see Polamalu as a perfect fit in their cover-2 scheme. As a local product he would become an instant hero and would shortly make some forget "The Hit Man" Rodney Harrison who is now in New England. It would be ideal in the minds of the Chargers brass if he made it to their second round pick, 46th overall. The problem is it is becoming more and more unlikely as time goes on. To seriously consider getting Polamalu, the Chargers may have to trade up to get him. The Raiders are high on the USC product, and if it came down to it, and he passes the Raiders two picks at the end of round one, the Chargers may pull the trigger to get this playmaker into the fold.
b Special thanks to Tony Pauline who contributed to this report.
Denis Savage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the following link: Denis Savage
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