Troy Polamalu graduates from USC

Study time is over for the NFL's reigning defensive player of the year.

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, who was drafted in 2003 after his senior season at USC but hadn't earned his degree, has been awarded a bachelor's in history from the school.

Polamalu, a two-time All-American for the Trojans, took part with more than 1,000 master's and undergraduate students Friday morning in a commencement ceremony for USC's political science, international relations and history majors.

More than 6,000 people were in attendance for the the Shrine Auditorium event on the school's Los Angeles campus.

The student receiving the loudest cheer, though, was one of the oldest of the bunch: Polamalu, who was drafted 16th overall in 2003 by the Steelers.

"I'm officially a USC graduate!" the six-time Pro Bowler wrote on his website, troy43.com.

Polamalu, 30, returned to school this semester, using the NFL lockout as an opportunity to complete a long-term goal.

"I decided to finish what I started and walked that stage today not only because it was very important to me personally, but because I want to emphasize the importance of education, and that nothing should supersede it," Polamalu said.

Polamalu has been receiving treatment in Los Angeles for a foot injury sustained late last season. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he won't need surgery and should be fully healed in time for the start of training camp, assuming the NFL season starts as scheduled.

"The majority of top picks in the NFL get drafted before they complete their college education," Polamalu said on his website. "I truly love football and it's such an immense blessing and privilege as an athlete to be given the rare opportunity to use those talents at the highest professional level, but it's certainly not a replacement for an education."

Information from ESPNLosAngeles.com's Pedro Moura was used in this report.