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Filling a cavity
As Ricardo Lockette sat in the dentist chair on Tuesday, he broke into tears.
An exposed nerve during a root canal? No just a call from Seahawks general manager John Schneider informing the rookie wide receiver that he was being elevated from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.
“He was like, ‘Congratulations, we’re moving you up,’ ” Lockette said Wednesday. “Tears immediately started to flow, because it’s been such a tough road for me. Once I got that news, man …”
Lockette paused before adding, “I can’t explain it. Best day of my life.”
Lockette is, you could say, filling a cavity on the roster that opened Tuesday when cornerback Ron Parker was placed on injured reserve.
Coach Pete Carroll announced the move this way during his midweek news conference: “ ‘The Rocket’ is coming up.”
The Rocket? Yes, as in “Lockette the Rocket.” His teammates hung that one on him very early in training camp because, well, the dude can run.
Lockette was the NCAA Division II 200-meter champion in 2008 with a time of 20.63, while at Fort Valley State. He also had a best of 10.0 seconds in the 100-meter dash.
“He’s been a surprising guy in a number of ways,” Carroll said. “One, we weren’t surprised by his great speed. We saw him at the combine and we thought he had one of the best workouts at the combine for a guy that came out of nowhere, and caught very few balls in college.”
Lockette didn’t actually come out of nowhere. But it was just down the street.
He committed to Auburn out of high school, but didn’t have the SAT score to qualify. That led him to Wallace State Community College in Hanceville, Ala., where he continued to play football and also ran track. From there, he transferred to Fort Valley State – as a legacy, because his mother, father and grandfather also had attended the school in Georgia. His father played football and his mother was a volleyball player.
“It was a shoo-in for me to go there,” he said.
Lockette had an idea he might not get selected in the April NFL Draft, but that didn’t make the reality any easier to take after three days of sitting, watching and waiting.
“I was looking forward to being drafted,” he said. “But when I wasn’t, I knew that I had to fight my way up to a training camp and then fight my way onto a roster. I was just ready to fight.
“Once the last pick in the draft went down, I turned the TV off, got my protein shake and watched commercials.”
Lockette eventually heard from all 32 teams after the draft, but the Seahawks were the first to call.
“We kind of set our sights on him and said, ‘Let’s see if we can get this guy,’ ” Carroll said. “Then, when we nailed him we thought it was pretty special.”
The Seahawks got Lockette because, as he put it, “The sincerity in John and coach Carroll’s voice, it wasn’t about the money other teams were offering. I would have come here for free.”
Catching himself, Lockette laughed. He then added, “I just appreciated the sincerity and how much they cared. How they felt about my talent and what I could do for the Seahawks.”
Now that the Seahawks have him on the 53-man roster, it’s up to Lockette to prove he also deserves to be active on game day – as the club already has Doug Baldwin, Mike Williams, Golden Tate, Ben Obomanu and Deon Butler wanting to get their hands on passes.
“When we got him, we found out that he can really catch the football and he’s got very natural hands,” Carroll said. “He’s got a long ways to go to get kind of connected to the game on this level, and it’s taken us a while. But he’s getting closer and he’s doing a lot of good things and makes plays all the time in practice.
“He’s just kind of one of our favorites and so we’re really excited to give him the chance to get that much closer to playing. The team is fired up for him because he’s tried so hard and given such great effort to get here.”
Asked what Lockette brings, Carroll smiled and said, “He’s a fast guy.” He then added, “Right now, he’s still the next guy up.”
But that’s OK with Lockette. From the practice squad, to the dentist chair, to the 53-man roster in one afternoon was a triple jump that will appease the former sprinter for now.
“The hardest part is just being patient,” Lockette said. “Guys just want to have success happen overnight, but I learned the hard way that you have to prepare yourself day in, day out.”