Class of 2020 College Spotlight: Troy Polamalu at USC




In honor of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2020, we are turning back the clocks and looking at the collegiate careers that set the foundation for these future Hall of Famers.

First up on the list is Pittsburgh Steelers legend Troy Polamalu, who first rose into the national spotlight during his four seasons at the University of Southern California from 1999-2002.

Troy Polamalu’s Career at USC

Before Troy Polamalu, with his luscious locks, became one of the most feared safeties ever to play in the NFL, the California-born ballhawk was tearing it up in Los Angeles for the USC Trojans.

Polamalu came to USC in 1999 after spending his high school career playing at Douglas High in Winston, Oregon. During his first year on the team, he switched between safety and linebacker while the coaching staff tried to decide which position was a more natural fit with his talents. Even with the constant position switching, Polamalu was able to record two sacks and two forced fumbles in just eight games.

His sophomore campaign saw Polamalu solidify his role at starting safety, the position he would hold for the rest of his career. In his first game as a starter, Polamalu returned a 43-yard interception for a touchdown in a 29-5 win over Penn State. Polamalu finished the season with two total interceptions and started all 12 games in what turned out to be a disappointing 5-7 season for the Trojans.

The 5-foot-10 safety’s third season at USC was his best as he amassed three interceptions and two touchdown returns, which led the Pac-10. While the Trojans went an unimpressive 6-6, Polamalu dominated in his first season as a team captain.

Polamalu’s senior year at USC was the Trojans’ most successful during his four-year tenure, as USC went 11-2 and won the Orange Bowl against Iowa. In his final season in Los Angeles, Polamalu recorded 68 total tackles, three sacks, nine tackles for loss, one interception and three forced fumbles.

Polamalu finished his collegiate career with 278 total tackles, six interceptions, 29 tackles for loss and three touchdowns.

2003 NFL Draft

After a prolific run at USC, Polamalu made the jump to the pros in the 2003 NFL Draft.

Polamalu was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 16th overall pick in the draft and spent all 12 professional seasons in black and yellow. He finished his career as a 2-Time Super Bowl champion and 8-Time Pro Bowl selection.

Troy Polamalu College Accolades

  • Led the Pac-10 in Interception Return Touchdowns in 2000 (1) and 2001 (2)
  • Second in Pac-10 in Interception Return Yards for 2001 season — 116
  • 2002 Consensus All-America
  • 2-Time First-Team All-Pac-10 (2001, ’02)

All Hall of Famers from USC

  • Frank Gifford — Class of 1977
  • Ron Mix — Class of 1979
  • Morris (Red) Badgro — Class of 1981
  • O.J. Simpson — Class of 1985
  • Willie Wood — Class of 1989
  • Anthony Muñoz — Class of 1998
  • Ronnie Lott — Class of 2000
  • Lynn Swann — Class of 2001
  • Ron Yary — Class of 2001
  • Marcus Allen — Class of 2003
  • Bruce Matthews — Class of 2007
  • Junior Seau — Class of 2015
  • Troy Polamalu — Class of 2020

See Troy Polamalu Get Enshrined into the Hall of Fame

Join the Steelers and Trojan faithful in Canton to honor the enshrinement of Troy Polamalu into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Attend 2020 Enshrinement Week Powered by Johnson Controls with an Official Ticket Package from HOF Experiences. Click below to see everything that’s included with an Official Ticket Package.

 2020 Enshrinement PACKAGES 


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