A month ago, I found out that a certain Seahawks 2012 seventh-round selectee was heading to my Air Force base in Colorado Springs, so I jumped at the opportunity. You see, it’s not often we get to meet Seahawks players here in Colorado. Most of the time, we just get a USO bus full of cheerleaders (not complaining about that at all, by the way) and an occasional Denver Broncos player or random NFL vet or two.
As I headed over to greet Mr. Scruggs, I wondered if it would even be appropriate to ask for an interview. After all, he and a few other NFL players along with former Kansas City Chief CB Eric Warfield were only here to sign some autographs, take a tour of the base and head back to their youth football camp (players were here in Colorado Springs with profootballcamp.com). But to my surprise, Mr. Scruggs was gracious enough to grant me a very nice 10-minute conversation.
BIO: DE/DT Greg Scruggs 6'4", 285 lbs
Graduated from Louisville, 2011
Selected as the 25th pick in the seventh round, 232nd overall, in the 2012 NFL draft
What’s the best part of being a being drafted into the NFL? “I think it’s just living the dream, you know what I mean? I’m happy every day I wake up. I mean, I wake up and play football every day. Just being out there, being able to live out that dream, I think that will be the best part...You know there are some bad things though, I did have to buy some pizza [for the team] but when it’s all said and done, I’m playing football for a living, so I can’t complain about that.”
Did you have any idea the Seahawks were interested prior to the NFL draft? “Well, me and John Schneider had begun to talk three weeks prior. He just called me one day out of nowhere and was like, 'Hey this is John Schneider from the Seattle Seahawks.' I was like…I mean, a Seahawks scout wasn’t even at my pro day, I never saw them at my practices.
"But slowly [leading up to draft], the momentum started to pick up, John asked what type of car I was going to get [when drafted] and suggested I get something that handled the rain like Seattle. You know, little hints like that. There were a couple different points in the draft we thought we’d be picked up by the Seahawks, but due to my turf toe I kept sliding, sliding, sliding. But I’m glad and I’m happy I finally did get picked, you know? I just wanted someone to draft me. Give me a shot, that’s all I wanted.”
Prior to the draft, were you familiar with the Seahawks? “Never watched their games, obviously when Pete Carroll got there it was a big deal, but no. I knew of Matt Hasselbeck; and Shaun Alexander who is from Northern Kentucky, and I’m from Cincinnati but I hadn’t watched them because they don’t play much on the East Coast and I didn’t have NFL Sunday Ticket and the whole nine. So all I had was what popped up on SportsCenter. “
On the Seahawks locker-room environment: “The locker room is great, man! There’s always a fear for a rookie coming into a locker room because essentially you’re there to take someone’s job. But they have taken me with open arms, especially at the D-line position. Guys like Red [Joseph Bryant, DE], [Brandon] Mebane, you know, those guys have taken me under their wing.
"They aren’t treating you like you're someone who will take their job because they just got paid, both of them, so they aren’t worried about it. They want you to have the best career you can have. Everyone in the locker room is cool...you know, Mike Rob (Robinson) is a real good influence on the team.”
Speaking of Mike Robinson, what are the chances we see you on one of his reports? [big laugh] ”I told him, I dream of the day I can make it on the 'Real Rob Report.'"
Goals for the season: "My goal is just to make the team. I really want to really be able to contribute this year, or as soon as possible.”
How easy has Pete Carroll's focus on “Always Compete” been for you to adjust to, or is it similar to what you were already used to? ”I would say it’s about the same. At the University of Louisville, my coaches were always about competing and being the best so coming into Pete’s style of coaching is the same exact way. Like you said, it’s always compete, compete, compete and do your best for the team. Everything we do, and everything we harp on has the underlying theme of competition and it makes it fun. It makes you enjoy coming to practice."
How do you see yourself fitting into the D-line rotation? ”My main role thus far is just to pass rush. That’s my niche, that’s what got me in to college, that’s what got me drafted. Also giving Red, Mebane, and AB (A. Branch) some rest on third down and really getting after the quarterback. That’s why the Seahawks got me. Coaches tell me all of the time to just get there, and that’s what I do. At the strong end opposite of Chris Clemons, it’s just me and JJ ( Jason Jones) so that’s my job. That’s where I think I’ll make my mark in this league.”
On the expectations of greatness placed on the Seahawks defense. ”Through the roof, through the roof man. There’s not a group of guys I trust more to get it done more than us. People like Kam [Chancellor]. I mean, he’s on special teams working harder than anyone out there and he’s a starter. Earl Thomas runs down everyone on every play, no matter how far they are. Sherman, guys like that, I mean I couldn't have walked into a better situation as far as learning and couldn't be with a better group of guys to live up to those expectations.”
On fellow unproven rookie Bobby Wagner starting at the middle linebacker position: “The linebackers are the QBs of the defense, but when you have someone like Wags [Bobby Wagner] in the middle, it takes other people around him helping him out. We still have Leroy Hill, KJ Wright; we still have the safeties to make the checks to help him out if needed.
"It’s imperative for the linebackers to know it [their jobs] but being [as] he is a rookie, everyone else knows what’s going on and they can help him out. When you have pro bowlers playing behind you and big dollar guys playing in front of you, all you have to do is come out and do your job, and Wags does a great job of studying the playbook and really being on top of it. He takes pride in that. I think he’ll be just fine.”
On team goals for the season: ”It’s nothing official, but I think the feeling [in locker room] is at least the NFC Championship game or beyond.”
On the QB Battle in Seattle (Matt Flynn, Tarvaris Jackson, Russell Wilson): “I haven’t watched it much, but um...three-way tie. That’s not a politically correct answer, it’s just how I feel and everyone else in the organization feels. I don’t have a bias towards any one person at this point. Right now everyone is neck-and-neck, but I’ll think it will play out in camp and preseason.”
On if his family will come out to Seattle: “My mother and my brothers will eventually come out to visit, but not too many flights though…I’m paying for it...” [big laughs]
And with that, his NFL player tour was forced to move on, and my time with Mr. Scruggs was over.
What I want to convey was the down-to-earth, genuine and affable nature this young man displayed. He didn't have to take the time to talk with me, but because he did, I’ll take the time to watch him closer than any other seventh-round draft pick in Seahawks history.
Note: Since this interview took place, Greg Scruggs introduced himself to the 12th Man with his wonderful performance against the Titans last Saturday. If this continues, his goal of contributing right away may just take place.
Score one more amazing late-round gem for the Seahawks front office.