Call it an odd coincidence or a great icebreaker. Either way, safety Earl Thomas has an amazing story to tell.
Thomas, the 14th selection by the Seahawks in last week’s draft, had eight interceptions in 2009, breaking the Texas season record for picks held by Jerry Gray. That’s the same Jerry Gray who’s now the Seahawks defensive backs coach — and who will now coach Thomas beginning Friday, when the team’s rookie minicamp opens.
“When Coach Carroll got back from visiting him, he told me that Earl broke my record,” Gray said with a smile. “You don’t keep in touch with that stuff until someone breaks the record. For me, I understand how big of a feat that was.”
The interception total is just one in an incredible list of numbers for the rookie safety. Thomas had 18 passes defended in 2009, good for sixth in the country, and rerouted receivers away from 24 other throws. Opponents averaged just 4.7 yards per pass on the 70 passes attempted into his area in 2009.
“The first thing you see on tape is his energy,” Gray said. “He’s real fast to recognize where the ball is. In person he’s real quiet and shy, but he’s a different guy on the field. He really shines on the football field.”
The Seahawks are eager to see that big-play ability during this weekend’s minicamp and into the 2010 season and beyond. But when it comes to that record-setting performance at Texas last year?
Definitely no hard feelings from his new defensive backs coach.
“We’re happy he’s with us now,” a grinning Gray said. “And I’m just going to tell him to break somebody else’s record up here.”