RENTON – Spencer Ware isn’t sure where he fits with the Seahawks just yet.
Ware spent most of his college career as a tailback at Louisiana State before declaring for the draft after his junior season. The Seahawks then drafted Ware in the sixth round with the intention of grooming him as a fullback. He has also spent time on special teams.
But Ware makes a guarantee, regardless of where he plays.
“One thing I can tell them,” Ware said, “is they’re going to have a hard-nosed player, whichever one it is.”
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Ware’s many hats are one of the reasons the Seahawks liked him in the first place. He could also represent an eye to the future. Michael Robinson, Seattle’s starting fullback, is only under contract through the end of this season.
Yet Ware’s biggest strength — his physicality — hasn’t been on display at rookie minicamp or organized team activities. That’s because the drills are mostly noncontact.
“I don’t think we’ll know about Spencer until you get him into pads because he is a very physical football player,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Remember, we thought he was the toughest running back in college football last year, so we hope to see that when he carries the ball, as well as blocking.”
Ware had his best season as a sophomore, when he rushed for 707 yards and scored eight touchdowns. He was LSU’s workhorse back for much of that season, but his role changed dramatically after he was suspended for one game midway through the year (along with Tyrann Mathieu and current Seahawk Tharold Simon) for testing positive for synthetic marijuana.
He would never hold such a featured role again. He carried the ball more than 20 times in five of in his first seven games before the suspension. He never had more than 16 carries in the six games after. He rushed for 367 yards, fourth on the team, his final season.
That didn’t change the Seahawks’ perception of Ware as a versatile back. Ware is 5 feet 10 and 229 pounds and prides himself on his physical running style. He also caught at least 10 passes in each of his three seasons at LSU, and Carroll singled out his pass-catching as a strength.
On the day he was drafted by the Seahawks, Ware was asked the standard question of who he compares himself to.
“I want to say Marshawn Lynch, just how aggressive he is,” Ware said. “When he gets the ball in his hands, he seems like he’s angry, and that’s kind of how I feel when I get the ball. I feel like I let out some steam on someone else when the ball is in my hands.”
The question is, can he do the same when the ball isn’t in his hands? If he indeed transitions to the role of fullback, Ware will have to learn the nuances of a new position.
“As a physical runner, you run hard to break tackles and make people miss,” Ware said. “Fullback, you don’t want to miss. It’s more of just sizing your defender out and trying to dissect him, picking bits and parts of him as you work through the game and try to get him worn down.”
Either way, Ware insists he’ll be physical.
Jayson Jenks: 206-464-8277 or firstname.lastname@example.org