Starting right guard J.R. Sweezy will be charged with protecting Russell Wilson and blocking for Marshawn Lynch in Super Bowl XLVIII. Had you asked him less than two years ago if he could picture himself playing in the big game, though, he would have been more focused on tackling those two.
That's because Sweezy was a defensive tackle in college at N.C. State -- and practically his whole life -- before he was drafted by the Seahawks in 2012. They selected him in the seventh round with the 225th pick and immediately put him on the other side of the line of scrimmage.
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"It was pretty tough," Sweezy said of the transition. "I mean, I came in as a blank slate. I didn't know anything."
He said his teammates and offensive line coach Tom Cable are responsible for turning him into a starter in the NFL and, as of Sunday, a Super Bowl player on offense.
"It was a pretty difficult transition at times, but I took to it well and I really enjoyed it," he said. "I love it a lot. I wouldn't want to be playing anything else. I'm happy now and I want to continue to get better at it."
The last time Sweezy played on the offensive line before going pro was in pee wee football, he said, when he was over the allowable weight limit for ball-carriers. So the coaches had no choice but to put him on the line. "That was the last time I played offense, period," he said.
At N.C. State he and current Giants DT Markus Kuhn played side-by-side. In fact they had dinner together at a steakhouse in Hoboken on Tuesday night.
There were actually others from that recruiting class at N.C. State that did well for themselves. Seattle kicker Steven Hauschka came into college with them. And so did Russell Wilson. In fact, they all lived in the same dormitory building.
Sweezy said that made it easier to adjust to his new position in Seattle.
"We used to make jokes when I first got here," Sweezy said. "I'd say 'I hope I don't forget and try to tackle you.' Stuff like that. But it's been cool to have a guy like that to be with through this whole process."
Sweezy said it took time to understand the offensive philosophy. On defense, it's pretty straightforward. "Attack, attack, attack," he said. On the other side, it's a little more nuanced. But the way the Seahawks play has helped narrow the gap that he had to bridge.
"That's what really took me the longest to understand, when to use the aggressiveness and when to sit back and let things happen," he said. "It's a different mindset really, but that's our style of playing so it does play into my favor that we do that."
Sweezy said he is now 100 percent an offensive lineman. And he loves being with the Seahawks and Wilson in particular. But, he said this week, he still wonders.
"My one regret is not getting a chance to play defensive line in the league," he said. "I thought I could."