Wallace Back On Montlake Turf
Aug. 8, 2007
SEATTLE - Wednesday was pro day at Husky Stadium when the Seattle Seahawks spent the morning on campus for a open practice session. Matt Hasselbeck and company ran their normal practice in front of a gathering of fans while the Husky team and coaching staff looked on.
The stars were out at the event as Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham was seen having lengthy conversations with both Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren and former Husky and Seahawks quarterback Warren Moon. Holmgren and Willingham have some 66 years of coaching between the two of them and have coached together in the past, under Bill Walsh in San Francisco.
During his noon press conference coach Willingham listed off the names of coaches on the staff headed by Walsh, who passed last Monday, including himself and Holmgren, Dennis Green (former head coach), Mike Shanahan (Denver head coach), Sherman Lewis (Lions offensive coordinator) and Ray Rhodes (former head coach). Seemingly every current NFL head coach can trace his lineage back to Walsh or those assistants.
Practice started with the offense in the stadium and the defense on the east field with the teams combining at 10 a.m. for scrimmaging and seven-on-seven drills.
Other familiar faces included Oregon head basketball coach Ernie Kent, there to see his son Jordan, an Oregon grad trying to make the Seahawks, and a former Husky as well: C.J. Wallace.
Wallace, who finished up his career at Washington last season, has been working out with Seattle as a safety, drawing some compliments for his hitting. The 6-foot, 218-pound rookie was known as a hard hitter at Washington, leading the team with 105 tackles, including 17 against Fresno State. Wallace was named the Pac-10 All-Conference Defensive first team and was one of only three Huskies to start all 12 games on defense.
'It felt really good to be out here,' Wallace said. 'I didn't know until yesterday that we were coming, but this is fun and it brings back a lot of memories. I've got a lot of friends in the stands [where the Washington team was sitting] and they were yelling at me, but I had to maintain focus. I love those guys.'
Wallace said he feels weird just been a quick drive away from Montlake, but said that being back on the turf at Husky Stadium felt just like it always did.
'Even though I've got a Duck on the team [Kent] I still feel like I haven't left Washington,' he said. 'A few years ago coach put me in the game and I made a big hit on the 30-yard line and I've been playing here ever since.'
Husky cornerback Roy Lewis got a chance to see his ex-teammate on the field right after practice ended, saying it was great to see Wallace get a chance at the next level.
'That's what we all are here for, after winning a National Championship, to play in the NFL,' he said. 'C.J. is a special player and he's not the only one either. He's excited for the first pre-season game against San Diego too.'
What Lewis was referring to is when Wallace gets to play against another former Husky in Sonny Shackelford who is in Chargers training camp.
Coach Willingham was pleased with the opportunity to see a pro team, both for his players and coaches.
'If you want to be the best you need to watch the best and play the best,' he said. 'We have young men that aspire to be professionals and they want to get better at their craft. Some guys loved the balance and the footwork and others like what they were doing from a system standpoint.'
After practice several players hung around to sign autographs before boarding buses and heading back to Kirkland where they had practice again in the afternoon. The Washington players resumed their own practice regimen at 2:30 p.m.
The news on Wallace in Seahawks camp is that he has been hitting and hitting hard. Some veterans tend to take exception to that in the pre-season, but it is clear Wallace is using his strength to try to make the team. Said Lewis, 'I heard that in the shorts he wasn't doing so well, but once the took the shorts off and put on pads he really started showing.'
Willingham said that despite his close proximity to and history with Holmgren, and the fact that they speak on the phone from time to time, they don't get to see each other much. 'See, when he's off I'm working and when I'm off he's working,' he said.
Wednesday's afternoon schedule included a split-squad practice. Tomorrow, the Huskies put on full pads for the first time this fall and, on Friday, they'll undergo their first two-a-days of the season.
Picture day is on Saturday from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the Husky Stadium turf. Admission, as well as hot dogs and Pepsis, are free to all.