USC great Tatupu dies

Mosi Tatupu, a fullback on USC’s 1974 national championship football team who played 14 years in the NFL, died on Tuesday in Attleboro, Mass.

He was 54. The cause of his death has yet to be determined.

Tatupu's son, Lofa, was a standout linebacker for the Trojans on two national title teams -- 2003 and 2004 -- and now plays for the Seattle Seahawks.

The elder Tatupu, a native of American Samoa, lettered four years (1974-77) at USC. He rushed for 1,277 yards on 223 carries in his career at Troy and was USC’s Offensive Player of the Year and Most Inspirational Player in 1977. USC went 37-10-1 in his career and won four bowl games, including two Rose Bowls.

He played in the NFL with the New England Patriots (1978-90) and Los Angeles Rams (1991). He was known for his rugged running style, tough blocking and stellar special-teams play, making him a fan favorite. He played in the 1986 Super Bowl and made the Pro Bowl that year. He rushed for 2,415 yards and scored 18 touchdowns in his 13-year Patriots career. He set an NFL record for most games played by a running back (199).

From 1997 through 2006, the Mosi Tatupu Award was given annually to the college football special teams player of the year.

After his playing career, Tatupu was the head football coach at King Philip Regional High in Wrentham, Mass., where he coached his son, Lofa. From 2002 to 2007, he was an assistant coach at Curry College in Milton, Mass.