Lemuel steps in

Posted Dec 8, 2011

The Seahawks lost three starters on their offensive line in three weeks, so the latest reshuffling has little-used, even lesser-known but also very smart Lemuel Jeanpierre sliding in at right guard.

Now that the Seahawks have lost three starting linemen to season-ending injuries, we all know what Lemuel Jeanpierre is: The right guard in the latest shuffling of the unit.

But who is this guy?

Well, the 6-foot-3, 301-pound Jeanpierre spent last season on the Seahawks’ practice squad before being signed to the 53-man roster for their postseason games. This summer, he made the 53-man roster on the final cut and even started the Week 7 game against the Cleveland Browns at center because Max Unger was out with a foot injury.

Jeanpierre played his college ball at South Carolina, where he switched from offense to defense after his first two seasons. He played his high school ball at Timber Creek in Orlando, Fla., where he was an all-state selection as a defensive tackle his senior season.

He entered the NFL last year as a rookie free agent by signing with the Kansas City Chiefs, but was released on the final roster cut and then joined the Seahawks.

But that’s media-guide stuff. Who is this guy?

“He’s a strong kid. He’s real quick at the line of scrimmage,” coach Pete Carroll said. “He’s one of our guys that we’ve raised in the system, so he knows what’s going on and he communicates well.”

Jeanpierre’s work at center during training camp and the preseason, as well as that Week 7 start, also help.

“He can make sense of the calls and everything at guard,” Carroll said. “He has good flexibility in the positions that he can play and all of that.”

That’s better, but it’s more what he is. Who is this guy?

“As a football player, you just want to compete and you want to get out there and play,” Jeanpierre said.

Jeanpierre is getting that chance, starting with Monday night’s nationally televised game against the St. Louis Rams at CenturyLink Field, because first right guard John Moffitt and then right tackle James Carpenter went down with season-ending knee injuries in the same week. That forced Paul McQuistan and Breno Giacomini to step in on the right side for the past three games. Then, left tackle Russell Okung went out with a torn pectoral in last Thursday night’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles. So McQuistan is moving to left tackle, with Jeanpierre taking over at right guard.

“I want to get out there and just do everything I can to help this team,” Jeanpierre said. “I’m very proud and happy that they have the faith in me to go in there and step in. I just want to go out there and work my butt off to prove them right.”

That’s what he plans to do, and also is admirable. But who is this guy?

Let’s start with the name. Both of them. Lemuel comes from The Bible, Proverbs 31: Sayings of King Lemuel. Jeanpierre comes from his grandfather, who was Haitian but settled in Louisiana. Put them together and …

“When I was in school and the teachers would call roll, they’d say, ‘Oh, I’m going to have trouble with this one,’ ” Jeanpierre said with a smile. “I’d raise my hand and say, ‘That’s me.’ ”

What else can he offer as to who he is? “I’m just a hard worker,” he said. “I’ve always been brought up that way. You know, if you do something do it all the way. I always try to get better every day.

“That’s just me. I try to learn as much as I can. I try to do as much as I can just to become a better person, in whatever I do in life.”

Giacomini has the cubicle next to Jeanpierre’s in the locker room, and was very helpful in this personality probing process.

“We call him Lem-opedia, because he’s so smart,” Giacomini said.

Now we’re getting somewhere. Jeanpierre majored in retailing at South Carolina and now is working on master’s degree in sports and entertainment management. That’s more media-guide stuff, but it’s relevant. Or maybe not.

“When we say smart, we’re talking about football-wise,” Giacomini said. “Another thing, just like all the guys on the O-line, we like to go to work every day. So Lem is obviously a hard worker. And the good thing is, as you’ve seen, he can adjust to any position.”

In addition to subbing for Unger at center this season, Jeanpierre also stepped in at right guard when Moffitt went down in the game against the Ravens and did it again at the end of the Eagles game after Okung was injured.

“From the meeting room right onto the field, Lem has been able to do it,” Giacomini said.

And, he’s also fits in well with the other linemen – an eclectic collection of holdovers, Unger, Okung and Giacomini; rookie draft choices, Carpenter and Moffitt; free-agent additions, left guard Robert Gallery and McQuistan; waiver acquisitions, tackle Jarriel King; and re-signings, Paul Fanaika, Mike Gibson and Allen Barbre.

“Lem is a good dude,” Unger said. “He’s a good player; been asked to do quite a bit and he’s kind of stepped in and done it all.”

And, finally, there’s this from Jeanpierre: He likes to hit people.

“That’s the thing about being in the trenches,” he said, “you’re going to hit something. It’s not like you get to drop back and not get touched. You’re going to hit somebody. If not, there’s something wrong.”