“He’s intelligent, he’s sharp, he’s humble.”
That’s what ESPN NFL analyst John Clayton said about rookie safety Mark LeGree following his interview with Seattle’s 2011 fifth-round selection Saturday.
Having yet to find his way to Seattle due to the current state of the NFL lockout, the Appalachian State safety has been trying to make the best of an offseason that isn’t.
Working out with his old strength coach in Georgia, LeGree explained that he is just trying to remain focused.
“It’s really tough,” said LeGree. “Especially for me since I’m up here by myself. Just working out out alone is not very motivating. I’m just trying to stay focused and know that it’s going to come to an end eventually. But lots of my friends are in the same boat – just working out and trying to stay in shape.”
Unlike a normal offseason, where draftees would be meeting with teams, participating in OTAs, and settling themselves in a new city, this year’s draft class remains in somewhat of a holding pattern – unsure if, and when, they will be playing football with their new teammates.
With strict rules that prohibit contact between coaches and players because of the lockout, LeGree knows very little about what head coach Pete Carroll and the Seahawks have in store for him once the season commences.
“I got to meet with him [before the Draft] and he just seemed like a great guy,” LeGree said of coach Carroll. “Lots of energy and a great personality. From what I’ve seen on TV and ESPN, when he was at USC, he just seems like a great guy and a players’ coach and I’m looking forward to playing for him.”
When asked specifically what he believed he could contribute to the team, LeGree was quick to point out his competitive fire.
“Even if I don’t get a starting spot,” he continued, “I’m going to make the guy ahead of me work for his spot. On special teams? I love special teams. I know how big a part of the game it is, it can change a game in just one play. I am looking forward to the opportunity to be able to start.
“I’m a playmaker and I can go get that ball.”
LeGree also realizes that the NFL is a whole different ball game than his school days at FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) Appalachian State.
“It was a lot easier here,” he said. “The one thing I know coming to the NFL is that I am going to have to have to get used to the quarterback looking off and the pump fake. Those are things I really didn’t get to experience much in college and they can make a big difference.”
LeGree posted impressive numbers at school, snagging a career-high 22 interceptions, yet he never scored in his college career. “Yeah, it’s kinda sad,” he said, of never getting to the back of the end zone. “I think, hopefully it will happen in the NFL.”
Confidence may be the key for LeGree and a number of players who will be fighting for a starting spot this year if there is a season.
“You don’t worry about anything, you are just competing on the field,” said LeGree. “You have to just believe in yourself and know that you can do it or it will bring you back a step. I remember just my freshman year I wasn’t confident and I didn’t feel comfortable out there and I’d just be panicking and thinking too much and you can’t panic when you play football, you just have to react.
“Confidence is big.”