RENTON — Bryan Walters can hardly remember a time when he wasn’t obsessed with the Seattle Seahawks.
He grew up in Kirkland, about a five-minute drive from the team’s former training complex adjacent to Northwest University.
One of his aunts used to be the secretary for former Seahawks head coach Tom Flores, and Walters regularly got to attend practices and games.
“I was always around,’’ he said. “Always a big Seahawks fan.’’
- Female tiger killed by mating partner at Sacramento Zoo
- Job cuts planned as Boeing hunkers down to compete with Airbus, consider new plane
- Amid Zika fears, local family shares the reality of microcephaly
- Nigerian suicide bomber gets cold feet, refuses to kill
- Seahawks sign CFL receiver Jeff Fuller and running back Cameron Marshall
Most Read Stories
Enough of one that even when he later played with the Chargers and Vikings, “I was always looking up at the scoreboard to see how the Seahawks were doing,” he said.
Saturday night, when Seattle hosts the Denver Broncos in an exhibition game at 7 p.m., Walters gets to experience for the first time the dream that began percolating all those years ago — running out of the tunnel at CenturyLink Field as a Seahawk.
“I’ve been looking forward to that for a long time,’’ said Walters, a 2006 graduate of Juanita High. “Just to be on that field and put that uniform on and be a part of that is going to be pretty unreal.’’
He simply wishes the fulfillment of a lifelong goal didn’t come covered by a bit of a gray cloud — a hamstring injury that has made it uncertain whether he will play and has limited his chances to make enough of an impression on coaches to earn a spot on the team’s final 53-man roster.
Before getting hurt on Aug. 4, Walters had been a camp surprise as both a receiver and a kick returner.
“He does it every day,’’ Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said after Walters made two catches in a scrimmage on Aug. 2. “He’s making a real pitch for himself.’’
A couple days later, Walters was “just running, normal running’’ when he suffered the injury, he said. He returned to practice this week after missing last Thursday’s game in San Diego, but it’s still somewhat unclear if he will be able to play.
Walters is one of 13 receivers currently on the Seattle roster, of which the Seahawks will probably keep only five or six. Four spots essentially guaranteed to Sidney Rice, Golden Tate, Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse (the injured Percy Harvin is on the Physically Unable to Perform list and won’t count against the 53-man roster at the beginning of the season).
Said receivers coach Kippy Brown: “Until he had his injury he was doing really well. And you know how injuries are in this league, it just makes you lose opportunities and it’s unfortunate for him and for us because he was really doing a good job.’’
Even making it this far is a victory of sorts for Walters. He was one of five finalists for Seattle Times Boys Athlete of the Year in 2006 as a three-sport star at Juanita — center fielder on the baseball team, point guard on the basketball team and quarterback on the football team.
But he drew scant interest from local Division I programs — he said WSU offered a spot as a walk-on — and decided to take an offer from Cornell.
There, he finished second in Ivy League history in all-purpose yards, earning a free-agent contract with the Chargers in 2010. A 103-yard kickoff return in an exhibition game against the Seahawks helped earn him a spot on the opening roster in 2011, and he caught three passes in the first two games before spending much of the rest of the year bouncing between being inactive and the practice squad. Cut by the Chargers at the end of the season, he signed with Minnesota in 2012 but didn’t play there and was cut. The Seahawks signed him last December following a tryout.
Carroll, he recalled, mentioned the kickoff return against the Seahawks as the tryout began.
Saturday, he hopes to get another chance to show Carroll what he can do on the field where he always wanted to play.