He had just helped get Philip Rivers over the goal line on a quarterback sneak to cut the deficit to 17-13, but their grasp on the game’s momentum was tenuous at best. Moments later, the Tarheels blocked the extra point and a linebacker in Carolina blue scooped up the momentum and the loose ball with nothing but 80 yards in front of him.
Relentlessly, the 6’-4”, 300-pound offensive lineman chased this linebacker the length of the field. He defeated a block and would not quit. With only a few yards left he pulled the linebacker down to the turf and took the game’s momentum with him back to the NC State sidelines.
The Wolfpack would go on to win 34-17.
Sean Locklear never scored a point that day and in most of the game stories this play wasn’t even mentioned, but ask the players on both sidelines that day and they’ll tell you exactly who stepped up and made the play that changed the game.
What’s an offensive lineman have to do to get some pub?
The Seattle Seahawks were
thrilled that Locklear was still on the board for their third round pick in
the 2004 NFL Draft. Some had projected him as high as the second round.
Draft expert Rob Rang (of westcoastdraft.com) rated Locklear as the #2 guard in the draft, ahead of Chris Snee and Justin Smiley. "This kid has good size, quick feet, and has improved throughout his career after starting out as a defensive lineman.", said Rang. "(He's) a player who hasn't played his best football yet."
Tony Pauline, NFL draft expert for TheInsiders, had some rave reviews about Locklear prior to the draft.
“I think Locklear is one of the most underrated offensive linemen in this draft,” Pauline said. “He quietly had possibly the best Senior Bowl of any lineman that I saw. People were talking about what a great Senior Bowl Darnell Dockett had… well he stoned Dockett.”
Locklear did more than stonewall him. Dockett had to go get himself another jersey.
“It got torn,” Locklear humbly admitted. “I don’t know if I was the one to tear it but it was definitely ripped off. I don’t know if I tore it, but I definitely got a hand in there.”
A former defensive end and tackle himself early in his college career, he still has some nasty in his game.
“I have the mentality that there is a guy on the defensive side of the ball that is trying to beat me, trying to get to my quarterback,” Locklear explains. “I have to be mean and aggressive in not letting him get in there. You have a chance to be a lot more aggressive on the offensive side of the ball because you can take a guy wherever. He’s trying to avoid you and you are trying to deck him and not let him near your quarterback.”
Locklear first moved to offensive line for his junior year, by the end of his senior season he had won All-ACC honors. He never missed a snap and in four years he played every offensive and defensive line position except center.
“I started out on defense, playing defensive end and tackle for two years and then I was asked to move to offense, and started out playing at guard. A couple of guys got hurt and I move to tackle. I moved from right to left side. We had a guy get hurt so I just had to step up. It was one of those things that I was asked to do. I knew I could do it. Whatever I could do to help the team win.”
His versatility and team-first attitude speaks to his athleticism, his intelligence and his high character. He’s a guy who says, “yes, sir” and who looks forward to his new responsibilities.
“You have to stay in shape – basically forever now,” Locklear says laughing. “After this you have rookie camp and then training camp and then whatever else is lined up after that.”
It doesn’t seem to matter what’s next or where Sean Locklear is lined up, good things follow him wherever he goes. And that could be the best trait of all when you’re an offensive lineman in the NFL.
Kristopher Jones is
the Executive Editor of Seahawks.NET. Feel free to send him feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.