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Jovan Belcher: Undrafted free agent to NFL starter

Before Saturday's stunning events in Kansas City, we knew Jovan Belcher only as a football player.

He was a find for Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli, an undrafted free agent who signed with the team in 2009, built his reputation as a special-teams ace and graduated to a starting role at inside linebacker.

Belcher earned a starting job last season and responded with 87 tackles, good for second on the team behind Derrick Johnson. Belcher's best statistical performance came in a playoff loss to the Baltimore Ravens in January 2011, a game in which he finished with 11 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Belcher had 38 tackles in 11 games for the 1-10 Chiefs this season.

Before his NFL career, Belcher was a standout for the University of Maine. A consensus first-team All-American, Belcher was named the 2008 CAA Football Defensive Player of the Year. He finished second in the voting for the Buck Buchanan Award, which honors the outstanding defensive player in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.

Maine was the only school to offer Belcher a scholarship, according to The Kansas City Star. His first passion was wrestling, and he earned All-Americain honors three times as a wrestler during his time at West Babylon High School in Long Island, N.Y.

Belcher said he pursued football in college because he wanted to play a team sport.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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