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While the Trojans were widely recognized for their explosive offense during the past two national championship seasons, the defensive tackle tandem of Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson was equally responsible for the squad's success.
A versatile player with the ability to line up at any position on the defensive front wall, Cody's hand usage and ability to shoot the gaps with explosion led to him receiving numerous postseason awards as a senior. He was the first Trojan since Chris Claiborne in 1998 to garner Pac-10 Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors.
Cody was originally recruited as a defensive end. Even though he spent four years starting at defensive tackle, he displays the speed and agility to be dominate getting to the quarterback when working off the edge.
Cody began his prep career at Damien (La Verne, Calif.) High, but transferred to Los Altos (Hacienda, Calif.) after his freshman year. He led Los Altos to a pair of CIF Division VII titles and was a near-unanimous All-America selection as a senior. Cody also garnered USA Today All-USA Defensive MVP accolades after he recorded 105 tackles with 22 sacks in 2000.
Cody was a highly-touted recruit that USC felt could be a cornerstone of its rebuilding project, and he did not disappoint as a freshman. After seeing reserve action the first four games of 2001, he took over at right defensive tackle and recorded 39 tackles (32 solo) with five sacks and seven stops for losses, earning Freshman All-America honors from the Football Writers Association and The Sporting News for that performance.
Cody was having a banner sophomore campaign in 2002, but in the sixth contest vs. California, he suffered torn ligaments in his right knee and missed the rest of the year, finishing with 20 tackles.
He did not return to the field until the 2003 season opener (missed '03 spring and summer camp). Back in his familiar spot, Cody picked up Associated Press All-America third-team and All-Pac 10 first-team honors as a junior. He posted 26 tackles, six sacks and 10½ stops behind the line of scrimmage as the Trojans shared the national title.
Cody was again afforded All-America (consensus) accolades in 2004, while also being a finalist for the Lombardi Award and Hendricks Award, and a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award and Lott Trophy. He totaled a career-high 45 tackles (29 solo), 10 sacks, 13 stops for losses, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and three pass deflections while serving as team captain.
Cody closed out his career with 130 tackles (89 solo), 21 sacks for minus-162 yards, 31½ stops for losses of 185 yards, four fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles, five pass deflections and five blocked field goals.
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