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Ultimate Linebacker : Super Charger Junior Seau Has Found Niche in NFL, but He's Athletic Enough to Play Almost Any Position

September 03, 1993|DAVE DISTEL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Seau began that third year with half a year of spotty experience with the Trojans and ended it convinced that he was ready for the NFL. Seau's third-year "Class of '90" included USC's Mark Carrier, Florida's Emmitt Smith, Illinois' Jeff George and Alabama's Keith McCants, all of whom seemed surer bets, but Seau went in the first round of the draft with the rest of them.

Back in that fall of 1990, he was a highly touted player beginning his first NFL season with what amounted to one year of college experience and one play of exhibition experience. He still became a Pro Bowl alternate as a rookie.

Recognition, beyond his peers, was coming slowly, however. The Chargers, given their years of mediocrity, were getting little national exposure. That came with success, the 11-5 record and playoff appearance, in 1992. This fall, for example, the Chargers will appear on "Monday Night Football" for the first time since 1986.

Could Seau be the middle linebacker of the '90s?

"Whenever he played, he'd be the linebacker of the decade," teammate Grossman said. "You can talk '90s, '80s, '70s. If he had played in the '60s, he would be the middle linebacker of the decade."

All of this is nice, but. . . .

"It's warming to be compared with the elite players at your position, but there's something else out there for me," Seau said. "I'm not content with the season I had, and I'm not content with the season we had. There's a bigger picture, and I'll find it."

Lindsey, the linebacker coach, has one target in mind.

"How many defensive players have been the National Football League's MVP?" he asked. "Alan Page? Seau will be the second."

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