In eight years, Kris Richard has gone from former NFL cornerback; to a graduate assistant on Pete Carroll's staff at the University of Southern California for two seasons; to assistant defensive backs coach on Carroll's initial staff with the Seahawks; to the defensive backs coach in charge of cornerbacks for a season; to defensive backs coach during the stretch when the Seahawks were leading the NFL in average points allowed the past three seasons and average yards allowed the past two seasons; to his current position as defensive coordinator.
And the exclamation point for all this is supplied by Carroll, who has called Richard's run-away train approach to his career track "a remarkable ascent."
How has Richard, who played cornerback for the Seahawks from 2002-04, accomplished all of this?
During his free-agent visit last week, Cary Williams, the Seahawks' newest cornerback, got a feel for what makes Richard so valuable to a secondary that is led by a trio of All-Pro performers.
"It was awesome. It was a great meeting," Williams when asked about Richard said during a conference-call interview Tuesday, one week after signing with the Seahawks. "He likes to crack jokes, first and foremost. But he's a guy that you can talk to. He's a guy that's easy-going. He's a guy that has a great spirit about him and a great personality."
The easy explanation for Richard's accomplishment-based upward mobility is that anyone could have success coaching at unit that is led by cornerback Richard Sherman, free safety Earl Thomas and strong safety Kam Chancellor – the threesome that has combined for eight All-Pro berths and nine Pro Bowl selections in the past four seasons.
Easy, but not accurate. Managing those personalities that are as strong as the players are talented is more difficult than Richard has made it look.
"Kris is the leader of it," Thomas said when asked what part Richard plays in the obvious success of the Seahawks' Legion of Boom secondary. "It's so crazy how he keeps us in check. He keeps us in tune. He keeps us connected to the game. He's very motivational, and he's wise beyond his years."
That's also why Richard was the obvious choice to become Carroll's third defensive coordinator in six seasons with the Seahawks after Dan Quinn was hired last month to be head coach of the Atlanta Falcons.
And it didn't take Williams long to see that, as well.
"Kris is a guy you would want to lay it all on the line for," he said. "He's a guy that makes you feel good about yourself. He also is a real guy, he's a realist. He's a guy that's open and honest about how he feels about you. That's what you want. That's exactly what you want. You want a guy that you can speak to, that you can trust.
"But he's also a guy that's not only going to tell you the good things about you, but he's not afraid to tell you the negative things about you. That's one thing that I could admire about him – how the connection was. It was real. It was honest. It was a real connection there. And I think that's the first step in being a successful team is being able to connect with your players. I feel like I'd run through a brick wall for the guy."