RENTON — It must be easy to underestimate Joey Blount. It seems like everyone in the football world has done it at one point or another.
Blount was a three-star athlete coming out of Landmark Christian High School in Atlanta, but the University of Virginia was the only ACC school to offer him a scholarship.
At Virginia, Blount gained a reputation as a hard-hitting safety during a career where he was a four-time All-ACC selection by outlets like Athlon Sports, Phil Steele and Pro Football Focus, was a semifinalist for the 2020 William V. Campbell Trophy, led all ACC defensive backs with 87 tackles as a senior, and made the game-winning interception for Team Kai in the All-Star Hula Bowl Classic.
But when Senior Bowl and NFL combine time came around, Blount’s phone didn’t ring. It stayed silent during the NFL draft, too, when Blount went unpicked and wound up signing with the Seahawks on May 1 as an undrafted free agent.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised, but I really believe it was all planned just for me to be here,” Blount said. “… It was a great five years and I left a lot of it on the field. And I absolutely wish that I got some more, you know, post career accolades, but at the end of the day I’d rather be here than have all those accolades.”
This past week, the Seahawks announced that Blount had survived the final roster cuts and would begin the season on the team’s 53-man roster, the only undrafted free agent to make this year’s squad.
This time, having his phone stay silent was a good thing, as Blount watched several of his teammates get a call that told them it was time to pack their things.
Blount repeatedly used the word “underdog” to describe himself during last Wednesday’s news conference, where he wore a near permanent smile of relief. It’s a mindset that could fit well on a team like the Seahawks, who go into the 2022 season with low expectations from observers around the league.
“We’re underdogs to pretty much everybody,” first-year wide receiver Dareke Young said. “And we’re pretty much, you know, taking advantage of that. I feel like we have great leaders and great coaches, and if you put that all together, we will have a really good season.”
As the day went on, Blount started to understand that he’d finally earned his shot.
“Definitely overwhelming,” Blount said of when he got the news. “I’ve been working for this since I was about five, six years old, and taking the route that I took to get here. I took a moment of reflection, just being proud of putting in the work. Coming in undrafted, no combine, no Senior Bowl, just really betting on myself.”
Blount’s bet has so far paid off, as he finished with 14 total tackles in the team’s three preseason games. He also showed flashes of talent on special teams, and recovered an onside kick in the game against Chicago.
Much of Blount’s value to the Seahawks will come on special teams, but there is no mistaking his goals.
“Don’t get me wrong, I want to play safety in the league,” Blount said. “I mean, that’s the goal. But being able to get that start, like you guys know, an undrafted rookie, it was a big thing working for a game to start, making a play within the first drive, having a couple nice plays and a couple nice tackles. Really, what I wanted to do was play safe, play within myself, and don’t try to do too much.”
One person that Blount gives credit to for helping him earn his roster spot is first-year defensive backs coach DeShawn Shead, himself an undrafted free agent who signed with the Seahawks in 2012 after a standout career at Portland State.
“DeShawn Shead was a big, big part of me being here,” Blount said. “He reached out to me during the draft process and just spoke to me from an undrafted standpoint that opportunities are here in Seattle. That is something that I really resonated with, just opportunity.”
As an overlooked player coming out of the draft, Blount knows that he has a lot to prove to those in the NFL. He worked hard to earn his professional shot, and he also knows that he now needs to work just as hard to stay there.
“I really use that underdog mentality to fuel me and my confidence,” Blount said. “So I’m not going to forget how I got here, I’m going to use that going forward. The thing about the NFL is that as easily as it is given, it can be taken away.
“So just never being content, honestly. Just always hungry and keep pushing, because someone is trying to take your job.”