Back in 2007, Malcolm Smith was having trouble breaking into the starting lineup as a freshman at USC. He played mostly on special teams duty for Pete Carroll. The same was the case in 2008. It took until Smith was a junior for him to earn significant playing time for the Trojans.
Fast forward to 2014, and Smith was one of the key reasons why Carroll was hoisting the Lombardi Trophy as the Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII. Smith returned an interception for a touchdown, recovered a fumble and earned the Super Bowl MVP in the process.
Smith joined Chuck Howley of the Dallas Cowboys and the Baltimore Ravens' Ray Lewis as the only other linebackers to ever with the Super Bowl MVP. Oddly enough, Howley's came in a loss, the only player ever to win the award in defeat.
Smith, a seventh-round pick of the Seahawks back in the 2011 NFL Draft, endeared himself to Carroll long ago at USC. It was enough for Carroll to take a chance on him in 2011, and it turned out to be one of the best things to happen to the Seahawks.
First, Smith sealed the NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers by intercepting the pass that Richard Sherman tipped away from Michael Crabtree. Then he became the Super Bowl MVP after a heroic performance at MetLife Stadium on Sunday.
Up until Week 15, Smith wasn't even starting for the Seahawks. He replaced K.J. Wright in the starting lineup after Wright suffered a foot injury. He became the face of a dominant defensive effort from Seattle.
In his three-year career, Smith has only 92 tackles to his credit but now is a household name throughout America after shining on the biggest stage.