Coaches covet the players that kicked their butt. It's an immutable law of coaching. If you succeed for a coach, they will respect you, but if you beat a coach, they will want you. USC graduated another bountiful class of seniors and underclassmen, and surely some will make it to Seattle through the draft and free agency, but apart from the talent Pete Carroll knows, how about the talent Pete Carroll wants?
No team beat Carroll's Trojans like the Stanford Cardinals. USC's oldest rival upset then number one ranked USC in 2007 and severely damaged the Trojan's title hopes. In 2009, Stanford routed USC, scoring 55 points, the most ever surrendered by USC, and winning by 34, USC's lopsided loss in 43 years. Carroll could target running back Toby Gerhart. He could draft offensive tackle Chris Marinelli. But another Stanford talent is generally anonymous.
And Richard Sherman might be the most talented draft eligible Cardinal in his class.
Sherman played wide receiver and cornerback in high school and was recruited as a receiver. He led Stanford in receiving yards his freshman and sophomore seasons, but played only four games his junior season because of injuries and discipline problems. Sherman converted to corner before his senior season and that combination has knocked him entirely off most draft boards.
Stanford was undone by their defense and Sherman wasn't a standout. The team that drafts Sherman could shape him into whatever they want. He's 6'3", has track speed and football athleticism, but I like his potential as a safety. Ok, not good track speed, but track athleticism and coordination. His 11.03 100 meter wouldn't have stood up against Archie Hahn, but it's still respectably fast. Supposedly, he runs a 4.47 forty. Sherman is a long jumper and excels at the triple jump. He has good speed, but is a bit of a long strider, and as such, his path into the NFL is through special teams.
Through that gateway could come NFL stardom. He returned two punts for touchdowns in college, and added a blocked punt his senior season. Sherman has rare size, speed and athleticism, and ball skills developed as a receiver. The predraft process will be huge for him, as coaches and scouts poke, prod and test what little ability he's developed.
That is, if he attends. Sherman was granted a medical red shirt and could return if there's insufficient interest. Stay tuned.