Tragedy struck the USC football family on Sunday afternoon when news broke that former offensive lineman Max Tuerk died at the age of 26. USC confirmed the death on Twitter but did not have a cited cause of death. But reports from USCFootball.com on the 247Sports network stated that Tuerk died when he collapsed while hiking.
On Sunday evening, the family of Tuerk released a statement on the death of Max, as shared by the USC football Twitter account.
“Max died on June 20, 2020 while hiking with his parents on a favorite trail in the Cleveland National Forest,” the statement read. “Max was a loving son and older brother and his passing leaves a giant hole in our hearts. His strength and work ethic is an inspiration to many.”
At USC, Tuerk was part of some strong success. From 2012-2015, his time as a Trojan, Tuerk’s teams went a combined 34-20 and went 2-2 in bowl games. Tuerk also was part of some massive turnover at USC. In his four years, Lane Kiffin, Ed Orgeron, Clay Helton and Steve Sarkisian all acted as the head coach of the program.
Tuerk was a Freshman All-American in 2012 and a First Team All-Pac-12 player in 2014. At the time of Tuerk’s drafting in the NFL, Shotgun Spratling of USCFootball.com offered this analysis of Tuerk’s time on the offensive line:
“Tuerk was a force on the USC offensive line for three and a half years until tearing his anterior cruciate ligament against Washington in October this season,” Spratling wrote. “Wherever a team needs Tuerk, he can play. He played all three offensive line positions during his time as a Trojan, starting at left tackle as a freshman before eventually becoming a stud center. He finished with 38 career starts with 18 at center, 14 at left guard, five at left tackle and one at right tackle.
“Despite his size, Tuerk is an athletic lineman capable of getting to the outside when pulling. He does a great job of getting to the second level as well. The former Santa Margarita Catholic product was a quiet leader and an offensive captain. During his junior year, Tuerk was named USC’s Offensive Lineman of the Year and was an All-Pac-12 first team member after being an honorable mention for the conference team his first two seasons.”
He went on to be drafted in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Tuerk was suspended for the first four games of the 2017 season for violating the NFL policy on performance-enhancing substances. After he returned from his suspension, the Chargers released Tuerk. The Arizona Cardinals signed Tuerk off of the Chargers’ practice squad in November of 2017 and then was released in 2018.
Coming out of Santa Margarita Catholic High School in 2012, Tuerk was one of the top linemen in the class. He was ranked as a four-star recruit out of high school by 247Sports, the No. 61 overall player and the No. 6 offensive tackle in the country. Schools like Michigan, Notre Dame, Nebraska and others offered Tuerk, but he decided to stay in California and play for the Trojans.