Mark LeGree was overlooked during the college recruiting process when he came out of Pacelli High School in 2006. That didn't happen when the Seattle Seahawks of the National Football League started looking at college seniors.
The Seahawks selected the former Appalachian State safety with the 25th pick in the fifth round of the NFL draft Saturday afternoon.
“We were waiting for a while. I knew that they were very interested from the beginning,” said LeGree, who watched the telecast from the fieldhouse at Appalachian State in Boone, N.C. “ My friends and family were saying this is the pick, this is the pick, and then we got the call right before, so it was very exciting.”
LeGree, who tweeted that he had been up since 4 a.m. waiting for the third day of the draft to start at noon, said he spoke to the Seahawks at the NFL combine.
“They were the only team that brought me in for a formal visit, and that meant a lot to me, and I just felt like they were the most interested,” LeGree said.
LeGree said he felt like the Seahawks would use him at free safety.
“I’m a competitor; instinctive player,” he said. “I can play the single high safety. I’m a reliable safety, and I can pick off that deep ball.
“They said they wanted me to protect the deep ball. They were telling me that this was a great situation for me to come in and possibly start, and they said of course that I have to contribute on special teams, as well.”
LeGree said that he felt like the Seahawks or the Ravens would take him in the fifth round.
LeGree said he talked with Seahawks coach Pete Carroll as well as other team executives.
“It was exhilarating. As we tried to guess things, like “this is the pick”, and five seconds later I had a call, it was from Washington, and I just started smiling, and I told everyone to be quiet,” LeGree said.
Normally, LeGree would be in Seattle by now to meet with the team. However, the NFL is locked in a labor dispute with the NFL Players' Association. The league locked out the players, so players, even draftees, can't step foot on the team's property.
LeGree said team officials told him that they would fly him to Seattle once the lockout ends.
LeGree's high school is one of the smallest in the state. He said there were just 28 in his graduating class.
But LeGree was one of the stars of the football team, earning not only Ledger-Enquirer All-Bi-City status but all-state as well.
Despite that, LeGree didn't receive much interest and only received an offer from Appalachian State after he sent them a tape of his performance at Pacelli.
But the 6-foot, 211-pounder made his mark at Appalachian State. He was a three-time Football Championship Subdivision All-American, who finished his career with 22 interceptions.
“I just think it’s a blessing, I feel like it was meant to be. God just had a plan for me,” LeGree said. “I am so thankful that one school felt like I could come in an contribute to a team. I made the most of the opportunity. I never thought the NFL would happen. I just wanted to play college football for four more years and go to school for free. I’m just glad. I never thought this would happen.”
LeGree's mindset began to change after his freshman season (2007). His team won the third of three straight national championships and two players from that 2007 team were drafted by NFL clubs. It was then that he started thinking the NFL might have a place for him.
Notes: LeGree, who took this semester off to train and go to the combine, will stay at Appalchian State while the lockout continues to workout. Columbus native Mack Strong was an undrafted free agent when he signed with the Seahawks in 1993. He played for Seattle for 15 seasons before a neck injury forced him to retire. Before going to the NFL, Strong played at Brookstone and the University of Georgia.
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