He's a social sciences/history major at USC. His brother, Kaio Aumua, played football at UTEP. His uncle is former USC fullback Kennedy Pola (1982-85), now the Trojans' running backs coach and special teams coordinator. Another uncle, Al Pola, played football at Penn State. A cousin, Nicky Sualua, was a running back with the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys who attended Ohio State. Another cousin, Leie Sualua, was a defensive lineman at Oregon. Another cousin, Joe Polamalu, played for Oregon State in 1987 and 1988. His full name is Troy Polamalu Aumua. He was born in Garden Grove, Calif., and lived Santa Ana until he was 9, when he moved in with an aunt, uncle and 3 cousins in Tenmile, Ore. (200 miles from Portland in the southwest part of the state) to get away from Orange County gang influences. His hobbies are woodworking and making furniture, as well as reading the Bible. He learned how to play the piano (and read music) during his 2001 junior year.
He was named to 1998 Super Prep All-Northwest, Tacoma News Tribune Western 100 and All-Far West League second team as a senior at Douglas High in Winston (Ore.). He played in only 4 games of the 1998 season because of injuries (bruised kidney, sprained shoulder and torn back muscles), but still rushed for 671 yards and 9 touchdowns, plus had 3 interceptions. As a 1997 junior, he rushed for 22 TDs and 1,040 yards, had 310 receiving yards and made 65 tackles and 8 interceptions. He was All-State and All-Far West League Offensive MVP as Douglas went 9-1. He ran for 1,003 yards, had 340 receiving yards and scored 20 TDs (plus picked off 6 passes) as a 1996 sophomore while making the All-Far West League first team as a running back and second team as a defensive back. He added 430 rushing yards, 5 scores and 2 interceptions as a freshman in 1995 and was named to the All-Far West League second team. In his career at Douglas, he averaged 6 touchdowns a season. He also played baseball (he was an All-State centerfielder) and basketball (twice making All-League first team) at Douglas.
Polamalu was an often-used backup safety and linebacker, as well as a special teams player, as a freshman in 1999, his first year at USC. Overall in 1999 while appearing in 8 games, he made 12 tackles, including 2 sacks for minus 28 yards, forced 2 fumbles (at Hawaii and Oregon), broke up a pass and blocked a punt (against Louisiana Tech). He had 4 tackles (with a sack) each at Hawaii and Oregon. He missed the Stanford, California, Arizona State and Washington State contests after suffering a concussion in practice prior to the Stanford game.
As just a sophomore, Polamalu started all 12 games of 2000 at strong safety and made an impressive impact. Overall in 2000, he was second on the Trojans in tackles with 83 (including 5 for losses of 10 yards, with a 4-yard sack), plus he tied for the team lead in both interceptions with 2 (1 returned for a TD in the Penn State opener) and deflections with 7, and had a fumble recovery which he returned 19 yards (against Colorado to set up a TD and Oregon). He was a 2000 All-Pac-10 honorable mention pick. He had a 43-yard scoring interception return to go along with 2 tackles in the Penn State opener. He made 5 stops and returned a fumble 19 yards to set up a USC TD against Colorado. He added 4 tackles with a deflection versus San Jose State, another 5 stops (with a sack) at Oregon State and 1 tackle against Arizona. He had a game-high and then-personal-best 13 tackles (2 for losses) and intercepted a pass against Oregon, then had 11 tackles at Stanford and 5 (1 for a loss) against California. He had a team-high and career-best 14 tackles at Arizona State, then had 7 tackles and a deflection against Washington State and 2 more stops at UCLA. His 14 tackles (1 for a loss) tied for a game high and career best against Notre Dame.
Polamalu made a number of big plays seemingly in every game in 2001. In his second season as the starting strong safety as a junior in 2001, he was named to the 2001 Football Writers All-American first team, College & Pro Football Newsweekly All-American first team, AP All-American second team, The Sporting News All-American third team, Football News All-American third team and All-Pac-10 first team. A team captain, he was USC's first All-American safety since Mark Carrier in 1989. He also won USC's MVP Award. Overall in 2001 while starting all 12 games, he had a team-high 118 tackles, including 13 for losses of 24 yards (with a 2-yard sack), 6 deflections, a team-best 3 interceptions which he returned 116 yards (38.7 avg.)-including a pair run back for TDs-2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery (to set up a TD), 3 blocked punts and 3 punt returns for 27 yards (9.0 avg.). He tied for second in the Pac-10 in tackles (8.9) and tied for fifth in forced fumbles (2). His 118 tackles were the most by a Trojan safety since Tim McDonald had 140 in 1986. He was USC's leading tackler in 8 games in 2001, including 6 in a row (and his tackles in 7 of those 8 games were also game highs). In the San Jose State opener, he had 7 tackles (1 for a loss) and a deflection, then had a game-high 13 tackles (3 for losses) and forced a fumble against Kansas State. He added 7 stops and a deflection at Oregon, a game-high 10 tackles (1 for a loss) and also blocked a punt against Stanford, and a team-best 13 tackles (2 for a loss) and returned an interception 22 yards for a TD (the second scoring pick of his career) at Washington. He then had a game-high 8 tackles versus Arizona State, a game-high 11 tackles and recovered a fumble (which set up a TD) at Notre Dame and a game-best 12 tackles (with a sack) at Arizona. He was named the Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week as he had a game-best 11 tackles (2 for losses), deflected 2 passes, forced a fumble and blocked a punt which USC recovered for a TD against Oregon State. At California, he had 4 tackles and ran an interception 58 yards for an interception (his second scoring pick return of 2001 and third of his career. He was named the Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week as he had 2 stops to go along with a 36-yard interception runback and a blocked punt to set up a pair of USC field goals against UCLA. Against Utah, he had a Las Vegas Bowl-record and career-high 20 tackles (including 12 solo, also a game record), with 3 for losses, and a deflection to earn USC's game MVP honor.
Polamalu, who started for his third yeat at strong safety as a senior in 2002, became USC's first 2-time All-American first team pick since offensive tackle Tony Boselli in 1992 and 1994 by making the 2002 AP, Football Writers, Walter Camp, ESPN.com and CBS.Sportsline.com All-American first teams, The Sporting News All-American second team and CNNSI.com All-American honorable mention. He was 1 of 3 finalists for the Thorpe Award in 2002. He also was a repeat All-Pac-10 first teamer in 2002. He also made The Sporting News' All-Pac-10 first team. Overall in 2002 while appearing in 12 games (all but California), he had 68 tackles, including 9 for losses of 44 yards (with 3 sacks for 27 yards), plus an interception which he returned 33 yards, 6 deflections and 3 forced fumbles. He did all this despite playing with a nagging ankle sprain for the second half of 2002 (he hurt it early in the Washington State game and was sidelined versus California) and missing all but 2 plays of the Orange Bowl against Iowa because of a hamstring injury. Sports Illustrated named him as 1 of 5 "Terminators" in college football in 2002, a player "boasting an otherworldly combination of speed, strength and athleticism…who can single-handedly kill off drives and wreak havoc on game plans." His jersey currently was on display at the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., in the "Race for the Pantheon" exhibit that highlighted the nation's 10 leading candidates for post-season individual honors. A team captain for the second consecutive year, he also won USC's Most Inspirational Player Award and Co-Lifter Award. He was invited to play in the 2003 East-West Shrine Game and Senior Bowl. He had 7 tackles (1 for a loss) against Auburn. He had a team-high 11 tackles at Colorado, earning Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Week honors. At Kansas State, he had 7 tackles (2 for losses, with a sack), a deflection and forced a fumble (which was recovered by USC for a TD). He had 4 tackles and a deflection against Oregon State. He sprained his ankle on the first series at Washington State and saw only brief action late in the second half (he didn't make a tackle), then sat out the California game with the ankle sprain. He returned to the starting lineup against Washington and had 5 tackles, an interception (which he returned 33 yards to set up a USC field goal) and a deflection. At Oregon, he had 7 tackles (1 for a loss). He had a game-high 13 tackles at Stanford, including 2 for losses (with a sack). He made 5 tackles and had a deflection against Arizona State. He had 4 tackles (with a sack), a forced fumble and 2 pass deflections at UCLA. He had 5 tackles (2 for losses, with a sack) and forced a fumble against Notre Dame. He got in for only 2 plays against Iowa in the Orange Bowl because of a hamstring injury (he didn't make a tackle).
In his career as a 3-year starter, Polamalu has 278 tackles (29 for losses), 6 interceptions (3 returned for TDs), 13 deflections, 2 fumble recoveries and 4 blocked punts.
Polamalu (#43) is currently in his third season with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is the first team starting strong safety. He is easily recognized when playing due to the large mane of curly hair flowing out of his helmet and past his shoulders. Polamalu is considered to be one of the more cerebral players in the NFL and is becoming the new face of the Steelers' vaunted "Steel Curtain" defense.
In the CBS Playoffs Pre-game Show, Polamalu said the last time he had gotten a haircut was when he was at USC in 2002 when a coach told him he needed one. Polamalu has not received a haircut since.
Polamalu has more than proven himself in the NFL playing for the Steelers. His mix of speed and an almost sixth sense knowledge of where the ball is going makes him a standout player who seems to be involved in almost every play. Troy is also regularly used for pressuring the quarterback during blitzes. In only his 3rd season (2006), he tied the NFL record for most sacks, 3, in a single game by a safety.
He made the Pro Bowl in both 2005 and 2006. He also made the AP NFL All-Pro second team in 2005 season.
Polamalu became part of the ongoing 2005 controversy over the quality of NFL officiating during the divisional playoff game between the Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts. Polamalu intercepted a pass, rolled to the ground, then fumbled the ball while getting up. The play was initially ruled an interception and fumble, but after viewing the instant replay, referee Pete Morelli ruled the play an incomplete pass. His rationale was that Polamalu did not make a "football move" after intercepting the pass but before fumbling the ball, and therefore did not demonstrate possession of the ball. The NFL later released a statement saying that Morelli's interpretation was incorrect, and that the interception should have been upheld.
His first Super Bowl appearance was at Super Bowl XL in 2006, when the Pittsburgh Steelers gained the franchise's fifth Super Bowl win.
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