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Ian Seau gets the spotlight and shadow that comes with the last name of a legend

The nephew of Hall of Fame linebacker Junior Seau is etching his own name into the family legacy.

Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

CARSON, Calif. -- Ian Seau became the first Nevada player to ever earn back-to-back All-Mountain West honors and racked up 18.5 tackles for loss in his senior season, but he understands that it's his last name that draws plenty of attention.

"Scouts, friends, teachers, it's always been 'How's your uncle? How's your uncle?,'" Seau said after a practice on Thursday at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl. "Obviously, I appreciate it because of what he's done. A lot of people just respect him and want to give that respect to the family, so it's just nice to know that."

His uncle, Junior Seau, earned 12 trips to the Pro Bowl in his NFL career, was the 1992 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and a 2015 inductee in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, three years after his death. But being related to a legend comes with its fair share of drawbacks when trying to make it as an NFL Draft prospect.

"It's a good and bad thing," Seau said. "Obviously, people probably give me more leeway because of who my uncle is, but it also comes with people expecting a lot more of you. He's my uncle, he's not my dad, so the genes really aren't all there, but I mean, he's my uncle so I guess I've got a little bit of bloodline in me, even though he was the only line. It is what it is."

Listed by Nevada as 6'2, 255 pounds, Seau is built similarly to his Hall of Fame uncle, who was listed as 6'3, 250 pounds in his final NFL season in 2009, but much of his experience at the NFLPA Bowl has been figuring out how he fits in to different NFL defensive schemes.

At Nevada he mostly played defensive end, but at practices he has worked with the National Team's linebackers coach, Mike Merriweather, a three-time Pro Bowler with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the '80s. Still, in his final two college seasons, Seau racked up 18 sacks and was in the backfield often.

"What some teams like in me, other teams don't," Seau said. "There's different schemes and things of that nature, so I just try to take it all in and see what I can do, see if I can improve and show [scouts] what they like in practice and hopefully [in the game] on Saturday."

Seau is listed as the No. 14 outside linebacker in the 2016 NFL Draft class by CBS Sports and the No. 142 overall prospect. He's projected to be a fourth or fifth round selection.

"This is pretty much my first time really talking to [scouts]," Seau said. "I'm getting to know them, seeing what they want and what they expect, so this was a really good time for me."

The NFLPA Bowl, led by coaches Mike Martz and Mike Holmgren, is scheduled to kickoff on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.