LOS ANGELES – Richard Sherman was 10 minutes from the University of Southern California campus, so you just knew the question had to be asked.
And it was, on the last of Sherman’s three appearances Wednesday, when the Seahawks’ All-Pro cornerback returned to his roots to promote SWAG – Students With a Goal. That final stop was at the Brotherhood Crusade, and the question was one of the last that Sherman fielded on a day when he also appeared at his alma mater, Dominguez High School in Compton, as well as Verbum Dei High School in Watts.
“Why,” came the question, “did you pick Stanford over USC?”
The 45 high school-aged boys in attendance laughed. Sherman just smiled.
“Stanford is one of the best academic schools out there,” he said. “If you look at the Fortune 500 companies – the Googles, the Yahoos, the Apples – you will see Stanford people throughout. They’re some of the smartest people in the world. And that’s not saying anything against SC, at all. SC has great academics. They have great football. They have great everything.”
But the neighborhood university did not afford Sherman the chance to show that a kid from Compton could not only get into Stanford, but graduate and also play football well enough to be selected in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Seahawks.
Ah, the football. “On the football side, I like to be the underdog,” Sherman said. “I don’t like to drive the Ferrari. I want to see the bucket and make it a Ferrari. I like to take it from the ground up.”
Literally, as it turned out.
“My first year, we were 1-11 and it was terrible. It was awful,” he said. “But by the time I left, my senior year we went 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl.”
That statement was greeted by applause.
Because Sherman was addressing the smallest of the three groups he faced, he was more direct with his message and in his responses during the Q&A session. He was talking directly to the students, rather than at the assemblies that attached several hundred students at Dominguez and Verbum Dei.
“I believe you’re the ones who are going to change the world,” he told the kids at the Brotherhood Crusade. “And I’m looking forward to seeing you change it.”