Posts Tagged ‘Seattle Seahawks’
Wolfpack fans anxiously await the start of college football to see what Dave Doeren will do for the program in 2013.
But former NC State quarterback Mike Glennon has turned his attention to his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It’s a team, in fact, he was a little shocked to be a part of at first, with the Bucs having an established starter in Josh Freeman.
(Photo courtesy of Matt May/Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
“I was a little surprised when Tampa took me because I hadn’t talked to them as much as other teams,” Glennon said in an interview before leaving for the Bucs’ training camp in July. “I have a chance to compete. Whether I’m the starter, that’s up to the coaches. I will look to help out any way possible.”
Glennon is now in his fourth week, preparing for playing time he might get tonight in Tampa Bay’s first preseason game, at home against the Super Bowl champions Baltimore Ravens. Glennon said he anticipates the speed of the game to be unlike anything he’s ever seen.
“Just learning a new offense means a lot more thinking’s involved,” he said. “But I understand football and am able to pick up things pretty quick. It’s really about the execution part. I’m about taking it from the meeting room and onto the field.”
Some might think Glennon’s relationship with Russell Wilson, who started in front of Glennon before he left the program and played his final year of eligibility out at Wisconsin, is a bit frosty. But Glennon says the two were always friendly. And Wilson, who is coming off one of the more memorable rookie campaigns in recent memory as the quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, offered advice to Glennon right after he was drafted in April.
“I called him about two weeks after I got drafted,” Glennon says. “I asked him about what he did. He was as friendly as ever and offered me some specific advice. He just kind of said it’s going to be a lot to learn and that the playbook will come around. He said to be a good teammate.”
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When Russell Wilson stands in front of a group of future would-be NFLers, he doesn’t tell them how many passes they’ll complete, touchdowns they’ll catch or sacks they’ll rack up.
But he does tell the kids that they will succeed. And he helps them envision that success, whether it comes in football or some other endeavor.
That comes naturally to Wilson, who talks about his aspirations when his NFL days are done just as much as he does about his hopes for his success as the starting quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. He says his academy is about more than football. It’s also about teaching the kids to dream.
Russell Wilson, center, addresses kids at his passing academy.
“To let them know to dream in something greater,” Wilson says. “I want to be a CEO with a business one day. …I want to own my own company and do my own things. But also, I want to be the best quarterback to ever play the game.”
The former Wolfpack quarterback is in Raleigh today running the Russell Wilson Passing Academy, a football camp that reaches out to inner-city and underprivileged youth. Wilson and other former Wolfpack players like J.R. Sweezy and Earl Wolff try to impart fundamental skills for all football positions.
Wilson loves bringing kids to the academy, which is also held in his hometown of Richmond, Va., Spokane, Wash., Seattle Wash., and Madison, Wisc., during the summer. “I love kids. Just to be around them, to share moments, to share my experience, that’s my biggest goal in this,” he says.
And Wilson gets something from the kids in return as he witnesses their dedication. “It’s really an honor to be here,” he says. “They’re all special kids, and they work so hard.”
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Photo courtesy of Seattle Seahawks.
Most NC State fans probably think of Russell Wilson when they think about the current trend of college football teams getting a player from another school to transfer in and play for only one year. They probably recall how the storied Wolfpack quarterback took his final year of eligibility to the Wisconsin Badgers and led them to a Big 10 title last season.
But what fans may not remember is that State also benefited from the rule allowing such transfers when a kicker named Steven Hauschka came to Raleigh in 2007.
The Wolfpack scored 220 points during the 2007 season. The team’s leading scorer, accounting for 33 percent of the total points scored, was Hauschka.
Originally from Needham, Mass., Hauschka didn’t started kicking for a football team until his sophomore year at Middlebury College in Vermont. “My roommates were football players and they needed a kicker, ” says Hauschka, who studied neuroscience at Middlebury. “I won the job and did the punting and kicking there for the next three years.”
Hauschka had one year of eligibility left when he graduated, and the NCAA allows a student to transfer without having to sit out a year if the athlete’s new college offers a graduate program not offered by the original school.
Such was the case, and Hauschka’s one season with the Wolfpack began. He went 16-18 that year in field goals and 25-25 in extra points, leading the ACC in kicking and being named a finalist for the Lou Groza Award, which goes to the nation’s top kicker. Upon leaving NC State, he was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Minesota Vikings in 2008.
After four years of bouncing around from five different NFL teams, Hauschka found his leg with the Seattle Seahawks last season. He made at least one field goal in 12 straight games, tying the longest streak in Seahawks’ history, and connected on five field goals in a November 2011 game against the Baltimore Ravens, one of his old teams. He has continued his success this year, going 19-22 in field goal attempts. “I was just developing as a kicker,” he says. “I just needed another opportunity. I was fortunate to get an opportunity here.”
Hauschka says the most important facet of being a kicker in the NFL is the mental component. That’s just the nature of the game when so much of what a kicker does is put under a microscope. “It’s, ‘What have you done for me lately?’” he says. “You only get a few attempts a game, and you’re only as good as your last kick.”
But, he says, once a kicker accepts that, the worry and anxiety go out the door. “The more you do, the more you get used to it,” he says. “It’s not a really big deal in my life at this point.”
Steven Hauschka at NC State. Photo courtesy of NC State Athletics.
The key for Hauschka avoiding stress comes with him working on his breathing techniques and the support of his teammates, some of whom are old Wolfpack buddies.
Russell Wilson and J.R. Sweezy also play for Seattle and came to State with their kicking counterpart in 2007. Hauschka says they all lived on the same hall at NC State and have stayed close friends since their Wolfpack days.
Add to that a rational view of the big picture, and you’ve got a mentally stable professional kicker.
“You don’t think about it as a kicker,” Hauschka says of a missed field goal. “As a kicker, you have to think about all the good stuff you’ve done for the team. The sky’s the limit when you think positively.”
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Photo courtesy of Seattle Seahawks.
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is quickly becoming one of the most prominent rookies featured in NFL highlights this season, with his stunning last-second heave to beat the Green Bay Packers last month and his touchdown pass to Sidney Rice to beat the New England Patriots in the closing minutes last Sunday.
But in the NFL, a quarterback is only part of the story. He can’t have success without a collection of offensive linemen who can protect him. In Wilson’s case, it’s a little different. He’s being protected by a former defensive lineman — fellow rookie J.R. Sweezy.
While most rookies talk about going through growing pains, few go through an entire transformation. That’s exactly what Sweezy has done as he has switched from playing defensive tackle at NC State, where he was a dominant defender for the Wolfpack, to offensive guard, a position he hadn’t played since he was 8 years old.
“Basically, everything is different,” he says. “Down to the stance. Literally everything. It was quite a challenge.”
But it was one that Sweezy, a seventh-round pick for the Seahawks in last April’s draft, accepted without a second thought if it meant he would get a shot at playing in the NFL.
Sweezy, 23, says the Seahawks were the only team that talked to him about a position change before the draft. He credits Seattle offensive line coach (and assistant head coach) Tom Cable for having the crystal ball that showed Sweezy’s potential as an offensive guard.
“He was the main guy,” says Sweezy, who is 6-foot-5 and weighs 298 pounds. “I think he just saw that I have the body of an offensive lineman with long arms. And I try to play aggressive.”
Sweezy at State, where he rushed, not protected, the passer from 2008-11. Photo courtesy of NC State Athletics.
It’s a move Sweezy says he approached with an open mind and one that he’s still trying to grasp despite his early success — he’s played in all six games and started in one. All the techniques and all of the plays are new to him. And the hardest part, he says, is figuring out when to be aggressive and when to hold back. He says the defensive lineman in the NFL are so good and quick that an offensive lineman can get beat very easily if he’s too aggressive.
Sweezy says he sometimes has to remind himself that he’s on offense and forget his Moorsevill High (N.C.) linebacker role and his standout years as a Wolfpack defensive tackle. But he says it’s something that’s fun and even funny to a certain extent.
He chuckles when asked what his reaction would have been two years ago when he and Wilson were both at State if someone would have told he’d be protecting the quarterback in the NFL.
“I probably would have thought you were lying,” he says.
Sweezy and the Seahawks take on the San Francisco 49ers tonight to kick off Week 7 in the NFL.
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Sean Locklear '03 practices with the Giants. Photo courtesy of the New York Giants.
New York Giants offensive tackle Sean “Cornbread” Locklear ’03 is an NFL veteran who understands the business of pro football.
Locklear describes the NFL as a place where a player is simply happy to be when he’s a rookie and even into his third or fourth season. But when a player is in his ninth year and is a reserve, like Locklear was in Giants camp this preseason, he says that player is hungry, knowing he’s always one play away from being a starter. Or out of a job.
“That’s the year-to-year, day-to-day battle,” says Locklear, whose nickname from his hometown of Lumberton, N.C., followed him to NC State and to the NFL (although he says now it’s been shortened to “Bread” or taken on other variations, like “Jiffy Mix” or “Wonderbread”). “If a guy gets hurt or if he isn’t playing well, you have to come in and play. It happens. It’s a business.”
And Locklear has benefited from that business. He signed with the Giants as a back-up tackle last April after a year with the Washington Redskins and seven years with the Seattle Seahawks, a team that took him to Super Bowl XL in 2006.
But after Giants starting left tackle Will Beatty missed time in the 2012 preseason with a back injury, Locklear started the first week against the Dallas Cowboys. And barring any last minute decisions, Locklear will start again on Sunday when the Giants take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a week of practice where he worked with the first team.
Stepping in has been an easy job for Locklear, who was first-team All ACC with the Wolfpack in 2003. “I’m always competitive,” he says. “A guy goes down and you have to be ready to play. I always take my reps like I could be a starter. I always have the mentality that I could be a starter.”
Locklear doesn’t know what might come of his starting gig or if Beatty will return to the lineup soon. And he doesn’t bother thinking about it.
Instead, he knows he has to take advantage of the job since he realizes that he has only a certain amount of time left in the NFL, where he says the average career of a player is around three or four years. “You take it as is,” he says. “It’s year to year. I’m recently married [to wife, Tiffany] and have a kid on the way.”
And that makes him appreciate the opportunity he has against the Bucs on Sunday even more because, he says, “Everybody says, once it’s done, it’s over.”
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