At one point Saturday as Connor Wedington talked to media after the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp practice, he turned and motioned toward the berm that overlooks the team’s fields at VMAC in Renton.
It wasn’t that long ago, Wedington recalled — he thought it was 13 years ago — that he sat on that same berm as a kid of roughly 8 years old and watched Matt Hasselbeck and the other Seahawks of that era in a training camp practice.
Saturday, there was Wedington, running routes and catching passes on the very same field.
“Coming back here playing for this team — it’s amazing,’’ said Wedington, a resident of Lake Tapps who starred at Sumner High before attending Stanford the past four seasons.
Amazing enough to compel Wedington to give up a little bit of money to make it happen.
To his surprise, Wedington went unselected in the NFL draft a few weeks ago,
“I had an expectation to go around (rounds) five to seven,’’ said Wedington, who could have returned to Stanford for another season.
But once the draft ended, the phone began ringing with offers from teams who wanted to sign him as an undrafted free agent, a process during which teams can offer signing bonuses and guarantees of salary, setting off a potential bidding war.
Wedington, listed at 6-foot, 189 pounds, said he had no shortage of suitors. But given a choice of where to be he said there was really no choice at all other than his hometown team, even if that meant turning down more money to do so.
Wedington, 21, ended up signing with the Seahawks for a reported $20,000 signing bonus. That’s tied for the most that has been reported of any other Seahawk UDFA (teams have a pool of $120,000 to give as bonuses to UDFAs) but less than he said he could have gotten elsewhere.
“There was a good amount of teams that wanted me,’’ he said. “And in terms of monetary value there’s other teams that offered more in terms of signing bonus and guaranteed (salary). But at the end of the day this is home and I feel like this is a great opportunity. This is a team that I want to be a part of.’’
Now begins the task of earning a roster spot this fall.
The Seahawks have 12 receivers on their 90-player roster, and last year kept six on their initial 53 but often had only five as the season progressed, and five or six is the likely amount again this year.
Three are a given — Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf and second-round pick Dee Eskridge — meaning the other nine could be competing for two or three spots (though waived players can always sign to the practice squad).
The other competitors also include Freddie Swain, a sixth-round pick last year who would figure to have a good shot to make it again this year, as well as Penny Hart and John Ursua, who have also spent time on the 53-man roster at times the past two seasons.
The Seahawks also signed two other undrafted rookie free-agent wide receivers who also were surprised to not get drafted — Tamorrion Terry of Florida State and Cade Johnson of South Dakota State.
But if Wedington has an edge it could be in his versatility.
He was one of the top running back recruits on the West Coast as a senior at Sumner, initially committing to Washington before switching to Stanford (he has always said the academics and atmosphere of Stanford was the deciding factor once he got an offer from Stanford, which hadn’t initially done so).
Once at Stanford, Wedington moved to receiver — he caught 106 passes for 971 yards in four years though he was held to four games in 2018 and three in 2020 due to injury — while also handling kickoff returns. His average of 28.1 on 21 kick returns in 2019 was the best in the Pac-12 (he also had four punt returns in his career).
That could provide an opportunity as the Seahawks’ return spots appear unsettled. Lockett is no longer regularly used in that role and David Moore — who was the primary punt returner much of last season — having signed with Carolina.
New Seahawks offensive coordinator Shane Waldron came from the Rams, where using receivers in rushing roles is a significant part of the attack. So Wedington’s rushing background could give him a leg up there, as well.
“The versatility, playing both positions, it definitely helps,’’ said Wedington, who also played defensive back in high school. “I feel like I have a good football awareness, and it definitely helps me transitioning into the NFL.’’
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll — whose team has had some success with undrafted free-agent receivers from Stanford — said Wedington was a player the team made a priority to sign.
“Connor was a guy I was really excited about as we got into the free agency thing because of his background, being from the area and all of that,’’ Carroll said. “….. He was really excited to have the chance to play here and play in front of people that he knows and the team that he loves and all of that, so I was excited to help make that happen. So we look forward to the versatility he brings. He looks like a good strong kid. Did a nice job out here in the first couple of days.’’
It also may help that Wedington will see a lot of friendly and familiar faces once full-team workouts begin later this spring and summer having gotten to know a few Seahawks pretty well, including linebacker Bobby Wagner, through workouts at Ford Sports Performance in Bellevue where Wedington said he has gone since he was 16.
“I was fortunate to grow a relationship with them before I was even a Seahawk,’’ Wedington said. “And now they’re my teammates. It’s pretty surreal.’’