The Seattle Seahawks were able to find an absolute gem amongst the 2012 undrafted rookie free agent pool. Somehow, University of Washington wide receiver Jermaine Kearse had inexplicably fallen out of the draft, allowing his hometown Seahawks to quickly swoop him. Kearse went on to become the second undrafted receiver to be wooed by the Seahawks – along with fellow outcast Doug Baldwin – and eventually make an impact with the team.
It’s clear that players, particularly players undrafted by the NFL, have a great deal of respect for Head Coach Pete Carroll’s competitive philosophy. After all, Carroll is known for playing the best player at every position regardless of draft status, paycheck or namesake. It’s this always-compete environment that has most undrafted rookie free agents eyeing Seattle as a potential landing spot post-draft.
Clearly, Kearse’s decision to sign with the receiver-needy Seahawks was a win-win for both sides. Though he only had three catches for 31 yards during his rookie year, Kearse was a solid contributor on special teams. Following a fairly unproductive rookie season, he decided to have LASIK eye surgery to improve his vision.
The following preseason (2013) Kearse looked like a new man. He appeared to be in the best shape of his short career, and was tracking the ball better in practice. Although the majority of buzz around Seattle’s receiver group surrounded the acquisition of Percy Harvin, Kearse was quietly becoming a go-to target for starting quarterback Russell Wilson.
Throughout the course of the Seahawks’ epic 2013 season, Kearse showed a knack for making clutch catches in big games. He didn’t take long to get started either, posting a 43-yard touchdown reception in Seattle’s opening game of the season on the road against the Carolina Panthers. That catch would prove to be the difference maker, as Seattle went on to beat Carolina 12-7.
Later in the year, Kearse would again show his flair for the dramatic. Playing against the Indianapolis Colts, he caught a 28-yard touchdown pass as well as blocked a punt that resulted in a safety. At just Week 5, it was clear that the young man from UW was finding his groove.
However, it was Kearse’s play in the postseason that solidified his standing within the Seahawks organization. In what was likely the biggest game in franchise history – the NFC Championship Game at home against the division-rival San Francisco 49ers – Kearse caught an impressive 35-yard touchdown from Wilson to help secure their trip to Super Bowl XLVIII in dramatic fashion.
Of course, Seattle’s Super Bowl victory over the Denver Broncos was far less intense. The Seahawks No. 1 ranked defense smothered quarterback Peyton Manning from the onset, and the final score reflected the game’s lack of competitiveness. Yet, Kearse finished the franchise’s first ever Super Bowl victory with four catches for 65 yards and a touchdown.
His play in that game showed just how far he had come over the course of his sophomore year. By all accounts, Kearse is continuing to build off of his promising 2013 season. He looked great in OTA’s and appears to be an emerging leader for Seattle’s offense both on and off the field. That experience will be needed as he hopes to fend-off rookie newcomers Kevin Norwood and Paul Richardson. So far, Kearse doesn’t appear too worried.
Also see Seattle Seahawks Training Camp Profiles on the following players: Paul Richardson, Justin Britt, Cassius Marsh, Kevin Norwood, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Terrelle Pryor, Keith Price, Brock Coyle, Tharold Simon, Korey Toomer, Kiero Small, Eric Pinkins, Dion Bailey, Luke Willson and Christine Michael.