Will John Ursua get the chance to be Seahawks’ next Doug Baldwin?
Seahawks rookie wide receiver John Ursua quietly impressed in limited opportunities this preseason, racking up 100 yards on just four catches. Even when the ball isn’t going his way you can see his explosiveness, and the seventh-round draft pick’s talent shone through enough for quarterback Russell Wilson to take notice.
“He’s always getting open,” Wilson said after the Seahawks’ third preseason game vs. the Chargers. “You see him out there and he’s got this cat-like reflex, he’s got this ability to make people miss. … It’s pretty special.”
That ability to get open has started to draw some comparisons to one of the best receivers in Seahawks history: Doug Baldwin.
Ursua joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Bob, Groz and Tom earlier this week and gave his thoughts on being compared to a Seahawks legend.
“I get a lot of those comparisons and it’s just such an honor to be compared to somebody that great and somebody who has accomplished so much in the league and in this organization,” Ursua said. “To have that comparison is challenging because people expect a lot from you but at the same time it’s super cool because you’re being compared to somebody who’s arguably one of the best to come out of Seattle. He has an amazing story.
“At the end of the day, I just try to play my game and be myself and let the rest be judged by everyone else.”
Of course, the most obvious reason to see a bit of Baldwin in Ursua is size. Ursua is 5-foot-9 and 182 pounds, pretty close to the 5-10, 189-pound Baldwin. Baldwin also had a chip on his shoulder after going undrafted and was determined to make everyone who doubted him pay. While Ursua was drafted, he was still available for Seattle to trade back into the final round and take him in April’s draft despite the former University of Hawaii standout leading the nation in touchdown receptions last year.
You could hear some of that Baldwin-like resolve from Ursua when Dave Grosby asked him if he’s always been told he’s too small.
“Absolutely, every level that I’ve entered into. That was the No. 1 reason why it was such an iffy… ‘should we take a chance on this kid’ thing. They say, ‘He may not have the criteria, he doesn’t pass the eye test as far as height and speed.’ That’s something I carry with me.”
Ursua is not only trying to gain a little respect for himself but also for his home state. He was fifth in college football last year with 1,343 receiving yards as a redshirt junior with the Rainbow Warriors, and he is hoping to show that success will translate to the NFL.
“Coming out of a state like Hawaii, we’re already not really looked at. Lately we’ve had some good quarterbacks that have come out who are known but after that there aren’t many people who come out of there,” he said. “Just that alone, I carry that heavily, and then the size part is another motivator. So I have so much to prove wrong and it’s super fun to show that I’m capable of doing this.”
Ursua said he tries not to think about the cuts that are going to happen Saturday when the Seahawks whittle down to a 53-man roster.
“I had a veteran come and talk to me and he shared the business part of it, and he said, ‘You know, you’re not just playing for this organization right now, you’re playing for all 32 teams.’ And that hit me hard because truthfully I want to stay here,” Ursua said. “(The Seahawks) drafted me and I would really love to be a part of this team, but when he said that it really hit me because at the end of the day the decision is not mine to make. It’s the people upstairs and whatever they decide.
“Whatever happens I’ll be extremely grateful and blessed to have the opportunity.”
If the rookie receiver makes the Seahawks roster Saturday, the team will be making a lifelong dream come full circle for Ursua.
“My dream was to play for Pete Carroll my whole life. My dream was to play for Norm Chow and Pete Carroll because I loved USC. Chow recruited me to Hawaii, so I got to play with Chow there, and then obviously I’m here so it’s a crazy coincidence,” he said.
We’ll know if that dream becomes reality on Saturday.