RENTON, Wash. – James Carpenter was called the quietest guy on Alabama’s team by coach Nick Saban.
Easy to understand why after Carpenter introduced himself to Seattle with one big smile and a lot of short answers.
“I’ve been worse,” Carpenter said of his largely silent approach. “I’ve learned to lighten up, and I talk a lot now.”
Well, he might talk more these days, but no one will ever accuse the right tackle of being verbose. That’s not a problem, though. In fact, it may have even helped Seattle the past few months as their interest in Carpenter was concealed by strict radio silence before the Seahawks chose him in the first round.
“We tried to stay under the radar with this guy,” general manager John Schneider said.
And after Seattle chose Carpenter with the 25th pick of this year’s draft, Schneider told his scouting staff he was proud of its discretion.
“His name never got out,” Schneider said.
Turns out there was a reason you probably never heard of Carpenter before the Seahawks chose him with the 25th pick. And while that choice caught many off-guard, Seattle came away with what it felt to be a low-risk, highly effective bookend to place opposite starting left tackle Russell Okung.
Seattle got its first look at the new tackle on Saturday morning with Carpenter holding up a No. 1 jersey at his introductory news conference while his parents sat in the audience.
Carpenter is a big man with dreadlocks that hang past his shoulders, and he’s named after his father, James Sr., who worked 31 years at a pulp mill in Augusta, Ga. The height comes from the maternal side of the family as his mom, Geraldine, had a brother who was about 6-foot-3. The new Seahawk’s favorite food: macaroni and cheese, and even at 320-some pounds he can dunk a basketball.
Carpenter arrived in Seattle with his family Friday night and they spent most of Saturday at the team’s headquarters for a one-day whirlwind tour of his new team. He was gone by the time the draft ended and the league’s lockout resumed for at least another day.
But Seattle got a glimpse of its future on the offensive line, and that future is significantly bigger after adding Carpenter and then John Moffitt, the 319-pound guard from Wisconsin, in the third round.
Their selection continues the reconstruction of the offensive line, which began in earnest when Seattle chose Okung with the No. 6 overall pick last year. The Seahawks didn’t mask their interest in Okung. Schneider and coach Pete Carroll even went so far as taking the big man bowling in Oklahoma.
Things were much more quiet this year, both in Seattle staying silent about its interest in Carpenter – and in his introduction when he smiled his way through 17 questions without offering much more than a few sentences in response. His longest answer of the day came when he was asked about being a physical lineman.
“That’s the funnest part of the game,” he said. “I just love being physical and just beating the player in front of me. That’s the part I love the most.
“I have a lot of those memories.”
The Seahawks hope he makes a few more in the NFL, and then no one will remember the relative surprise that greeted Seattle’s selection of Carpenter.