USC Football Great Gary Jeter Dies at 61

LOS ANGELES, CA - CIRCA 1973-1976: Gary Jeter,
LOS ANGELES, CA - CIRCA 1973-1976: Gary Jeter, /

USC football great Gary Jeter, who helped the Trojans to a national title in 1974 and later earned All-American status as a defensive lineman, died Thursday. He was 61.

USC football All-American and NFL stalwart for the New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams Gary Jeter died at age 61 on Thursday.

Jeter lettered at USC from 1973 until 1976, earning a starting job his freshman season as a defensive tackle. In 1974 he played an important role in the Trojans’ national championship run, then was named USC’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1975.

As a senior in 1976, Jeter received All-American honors. He was recognized as an All-Conference player three times.

Selected with the fifth pick overall in the 1977 NFL Draft, Jeter went on to a long pro career with the Giants and Rams before a final season with the New England Patriots.

Jeter started 57 games in six seasons in New York, earning a place on the All-Rookie team during his first year. Following an injury which held him out most of 1984, Jeter was reconized as the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 1985.

More from Reign of Troy

However, further injury prompted him to be traded to Los Angeles in 1983 to play under new Rams coach John Robinson and defensive coordinator Marv Goux for the second time in his career.

In Los Angeles, Jeter reestablished himself as a formidable pass rush specialist and tallied 45 sacks for the Rams from 1983 until 1988.

After leaving the Rams as a free agent, Jeter played one season with Patriots but was released and ended his career due to back problems.

Following his NFL career, Jeter opened a bakery and worked as an NFL game-day assistant.