Coming out of high school I was recruited at both positions. I was recruited out of high school by coach Pete Carroll when he was still at the University of Southern California, but I wanted the ball in my hands. USC wanted me as a cornerback and that’s a big reason why I didn’t go there. My decision to go to Stanford was a lot more than just wanting to play wide receiver, but that was a big selling point.
Heading into college at Stanford I was a wide receiver for my first three years. The coaches said they were going to give me an opportunity to go both ways – play offense and defense, but we had injuries my freshman year and as a result I ended up playing a lot more snaps at receiver. They couldn’t really use me both ways because they needed me on offense.
I ended up leading the team in receiving during my freshman and sophomore years, Then, I hurt my patella – my kneecap – my junior year. I played four games that year and I sat out the remainder of the year and they gave me injury redshirt, which allowed me to re-play that year as a corner.
The move to the corner position came that following spring. My switch to cornerback came for a variety of reasons. I wanted it, and I knew our team needed it at the time. We didn’t have any corners capable of doing what I know I’m capable of doing. Looking back, I think we would have given up a lot of balls and a lot of big plays had I not switched positions.
I wanted to win. I’m a competitor. I’m about competitive as you can get. So my main focus at the time I made the switch was to go out there and do anything to help my team win. I knew I could play the position pretty well in high school because a lot of schools came after me and recruited me specifically for that – coach Carroll at USC being one of them.
I started at the bottom of the depth chart that year. I worked hard and worked my way up. My technique was sound. I feel I’m great in man coverage, I have great instincts, and I feel I can read bodies well – I don’t even know how to explain it sometimes. Sometimes people will come up to me after an interception or pass breakup and say, ‘Man, how did you see that?’ And I can’t even really respond. I just know. It’s like somebody is telling me, ‘Go!’ and off I go.
I had two picks my junior year at Stanford and then my senior year I got a little smoother and I shaved off some of the rough edges. I got better. I just got better and better over the years. Playing offense growing up and in my first three years at Stanford helped me recognize splits and concepts and things like that, which helped me be successful in college, and we just went from there.
We went 12-1 my senior year. In the Orange Bowl against Virginia Tech I got one ball thrown my way the whole game. It was kind of crazy. Then I got drafted as a corner and the rest, as they say, is history.
As I was getting ready to come out of college it was actually kind of crazy. I got invited to the Senior Bowl, and I didn’t get invited to the NFL Combine until after the Senior Bowl. So I played in the Senior Bowl, played well, got invited to the combine, and did well there.
I saw that my draft grade was higher as a receiver than it was as a corner. So there were a lot of teams – Kansas City, Tampa Bay – that were going to go after me as a receiver, but I guess they got the guy they wanted.
The only contact I had with Seattle’s coaching staff before I got drafted happened very randomly with secondary coach Kris Richard. Nobody from Seattle came up to me, nobody interviewed me, nobody said anything to me. But one of the other scouts that I was talking to introduced me to coach Richard. He said, ‘Hey, meet one of my good friends, coach Richard.’ And then Kris and I just started talking. We had a pretty good conversation, but that was pretty much it as far as any contact I had with Seattle. It was crazy. I had no idea they were interested.
Coming up on draft day I was just frustrated that I went so late, that I went in the fifth round. I felt I was a good enough player to go in the first couple of rounds. Once those rounds passed I admit I was frustrated. I was past the point where I could be contained.
Once Seattle called I was very grateful. I was humble and very appreciative. But I had a chip on my shoulder still. I was going to go out there and destroy everybody. And that’s the rampage I’m on now. When I got my opportunity last year to step into the starting lineup with injuries to some of our other corners, my mentality was to destroy.
It’s a blessing, really – they come in all forms. When your opportunity comes you’ve just got to be ready for it. I thank God that I was ready and that I was able to play well and I’m just doing my best to prove a point now.
Heading into the home opener this weekend against the Dallas Cowboys my goal is to just play good coverage, don’t give up any catches. That’s my goal every game. I don’t want to give up any catches, even if the coverage dictates for me to give it up – I don’t want to give it up. I want to be a shutdown corner in this League. I don’t want anything caught on my side. I want to be feared. That’s my greatest goal. I’m going to try my best to play top-down defense and not let them catch anything.
To all the fans out there that are coming to CenturyLink Field this weekend, and to those watching at home, or listening on the radio, I just have one final message:
Fireworks. There will be fireworks this weekend.