From receiver to cornerback
A Stanford graduate, Richard Sherman played three years at receiver before switching over to defense his senior year, showing enough in 2010 to get drafted in the fifth round by the Seattle Seahawks.
Sherman, 21, has been as good as advertised in camp so far, and is in a competitive battle among a young group of corners for a spot on the final roster.
So how much did playing receiver help the transition to cornerback?
“It helped a tremendous amount,” Sherman said. “Because there’s a lot of subtle things at receiver that you wouldn’t know playing defensive back, not ever being on the offensive side of the ball – splits, alignments, releases and things like that – that you may learn on defense, but you don’t know why they’re doing it.”
Sherman went on to say his time at receiver has helped him now that’s he’s a defensive back in match up with all different types of receivers.
“You just have to know who you’re going against, and know their strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “Some guys are more laterally quick and some are strong, and you can’t really get your big hands on them because they’ll get physical with you.
“And some guys like (Ricardo) Lockette can just run, so you have to kind of find a way to slow them down and get into their route to make sure you can control their speed and pace.”
Bump and run
One of the reasons Seattle drafted Sherman is because, at 6-3, 195 pounds with long arms, head coach Pete Carroll felt that he would be an ideal fit for Seattle’s press cover scheme, where the cornerback plays bump-and-run coverage at the line of scrimmage, and then turns and runs with the receiver.
Sherman says that so far the scheme has been a perfect match with his skill set.
“I didn’t expect them to let me play press like they have every down,” Sherman said. “That was a very good thing for me. I’m very happy about that. I’m very happy about the opportunities they’re giving me, and the reps that I’m getting to run with the ones and the twos, and sometimes the threes. I’m just getting a lot of reps out there, and a lot of chances to show what I can do.”
The gift of gab
Sherman isn’t shy. A communications major at Stanford, Sherman said he wouldn’t mind pursing a job in the media as a TV or radio personality down the road once his playing days are over.
“That’s what I’m really hoping to do,” he said. “I have a lot of fun doing it. I love talking ball. I love commentating. I love talking period. It would be a great living.”
He’s also been one of the rookies regularly talking trash with veteran receivers like Mike Williams.
“That’s just how I am,” he said. “That’s kind of been me forever. On game days I don’t really talk too much, but out here you’ve got to kind of keep it lively. You’ve got to keep everybody into it, and it’s fun.”
Working with the vets
Sherman says he’s learned a lot working with veteran cornerbacks Marcus Trufant and Kelly Jennings the first few weeks of camp.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” he said. “They’ve helped me more than they’ll ever know with just the subtle insights they give you, technique and how to use your hands. And what receivers are looking at, and what you should be looking at with hips, splits and stuff like that. It’s been great.