The USC Trojans lost one of their all-time greats on Wednesday, when future Pro Football Hall of Famer Junior Seau was found dead at his home from an apparent suicide. In response, USC athletic director Pat Haden and football coach Lane Kiffin released remarks via a statement.
Pat: "We are tremendously saddened to hear this news and our hearts go out to his family and children. Junior Seau was one of the greatest legends in USC football history. He will always be remembered by USC as the original No. 55."
Kiffin: "This is a very sad day. The USC football program and the entire Trojan Family extends our condolences to Junior's family. He was one of the greatest Trojans of all-time. Our team and fans were very fortunate to see him just a couple of weeks ago at our Spring Game at the Coliseum. He will be deeply missed."
Seau played 27 years worth of football from high school onward, all but seven of those years in southern California, first making his name as a three-sport star at Oceanside High in San Diego. He was named a Parade All-American as a linebacker and tight end, but had to clean up his academic record before being able to take the field for the Trojans.
For young football players of a certain generation, Dick Butkus' No. 51 was the choice for ambitious linebackers. Then, Lawrence Taylor's No. 56. For the next crop, it was Seau's No. 55, especially for West Coast players. The Trojans adopted the number as a legacy honor, similar to Michigan's use of jersey No. 1, after the mark Seau made. The two-time unanimous All-American helped establish USC as one of the premier linebacker factories, with Clay Matthews, Willie McGinest and Brian Cushing among the many who followed him.
He returned to USC often over the years, appearing on the sidelines in Trojans gear just weeks ago at their annual spring game.