In his fourth NFL season, a scheme change helped linebacker Uchenna Nwosu unlock more of the potential that made him a second-round pick out of USC in 2018.
During his first three seasons with the Chargers, Nwosu was a reserve player in defensive coordinator Gus Bradley's 4-3 scheme, but when Brandon Staley became the head coach last year and switched to a 3-4, Nwosu saw his playing time and production increase as an outside linebacker in Staley's 3-4 scheme, starting 15 of 17 games played while recording career highs in sacks (5.0) tackles (40), tackles for loss (8) and quarterback hits (17).
With the Seahawks shifting to more 3-4 concepts under new defensive coordinator Clint Hurtt, Nwosu saw in Seattle a good opportunity to build off of what he started last season in L.A.
"It allows me to play fast," he said of Seattle's new-look defense. "Being able to go into another year of being in the same scheme, similar verbiage, similar tasks, similar responsibilities. It allows me to be myself, it allows me to unlock my true potential, what I could do. It was on display last season, and I think it will be more on display this year.
"Having another year in this system that's truly a fit for me, I feel like I'll be able to capitalize. I estimate playing similar to like I played last year and taking it to another level."
A multi-sport athlete growing up in L.A., Nwosu also played multiple positions on defense before settling into his current spot as a linebacker and edge rusher, playing safety in high school, then moving to an off-ball linebacker role at USC before settling in at outside linebacker where he cemented himself as an NFL prospect.
It was his senior year at USC when Nwosu said "my true potential started to shine… This is my position."
Nwosu is also excited to be in Seattle because it means playing for Pete Carroll. Carroll was well into his Seahawks career by the time Nwosu arrived at USC, but Carroll's name and accomplishments are still held in very high regard there.
"Coach Carroll is definitely respected," he said. "What he was able to do there for all those years with Reggie (Bush), and Matt Leinart and LenDale (White), that will live on forever on in USC history. Every time his name is brought up down there, it's held to high standards."
Joining the Seahawks also means Nwosu will live outside of the Los Angeles area for the first time in his life after playing his high school football at Narbonne High School, his college football at USC and his first four years in the NFL for the Chargers. It will be an adjustment, but one Nwosu is looking forward to.
"I'm an LA kid, I've been here my whole life—high school, college and my first four years of my pro career—so I feel like I never got to really see the world, see other cities," he said. "… I feel like it's a literal breath of fresh air, so I'm looking forward to that."