From a college defensive lineman to a practice-squad guard to the Seahawks’ likely starting center, it’s been an interesting transition for Drew Nowak.
“If it’s going to keep me in the NFL, then whatever it takes,” he told 710 ESPN “Bob, Groz and Tom” on Tuesday while talking about his position switches.
Nowak has ostensibly been tabbed as the Seahawks’ starting center after the team released Lemuel Jeanpierre, who was also competing for that job. Nowak will take over for Max Unger, who was traded this offseason to New Orleans.
The 25-year-old Nowak went undrafted in 2012, spent two seasons as a guard on the Jaguars’ practice squad then joined Seattle’s last season. The Seahawks’ reshuffled offensive line consists of multiple converts from other positions, but none as drastic as Nowak, who said he hadn’t played center since his senior year in high school before he was moved there earlier this offseason.
Nowak grew up in De Pere, Wis., a suburb of Green Bay, and spent his collegiate career as a defensive tackle for Western Michigan. He was named the 2011 MAC defensive player of the year after notching 8.5 sacks and 91 tackles.
Nowak called training camp a “whirlwind” but said he always thought he had an opportunity to win the starting center job. He said the key to offensive line success is putting together a cohesive unit.
“Nothing against defensive lineman, but you definitely have to think a lot more on the offensive side,” he said. “I played defense and I thought it was tough at times, but really there is so much more in front of you as an offensive lineman that you have to know. Every step means something. Everything matters.”
Nowak credited offensive-line coach Tom Cable for teaching him to focus on, improve and perfect one single skill before moving on to the next phase of his game. He also praised quarterback Russell Wilson for working with him outside practice, ensuring they are on the same page.
“It’s been nice to feel that support because it’s definitely tough coming in and being a new guy,” Nowak said.
Nowak said he grew up a Packers fan. His family has had season tickets at Lambeau Field since the 1960s.
“I know when I go there (Week 2) it’s going to be kind of surreal,” he said. “Like, ‘Wow, I am playing in the stadium that I grew up watching and the guys I wanted to be like.’ So it’s definitely going to be special, but I’m going to try not to make it anything more than just another game.”
Nowak said his parents will be rooting him on from their box suite at the stadium.
“My mom says everybody has to wear Seahawks gear in the box,” he said.