SEATTLE – Pete Carroll says he blew it with Clay Matthews.
The Seattle Seahawks' coach was Matthews' coach at USC and saw the outside linebacker go from an undersized walk-on freshman, to a special teams standout for the bulk of his college career, to a starter in his senior year who blossomed into a first-round draft pick by the Packers in 2009.
"When Clay came in he was 208 pounds and he didn't run really well," Carroll said at his press conference Thursday. "He wasn't really strong, but he loved playing and he tried really hard. Unfortunately, this is one of the great mistakes that I missed in my coaching at SC was how good of a player he was."
Carroll said that going into Matthews' junior season he was pumping Matthews as maybe the best special teams player in USC history. By early in Matthews' senior season, USC's defense was struggling and the coaches put Matthews in because they thought at least he knew the scheme and his assignments.
"He's been a great player since the time he was given an opportunity to show it," Carroll said. "He was always there banging away. Always there fighting, clawing and scratching. Maybe because of the way he came up, it took him a long time to develop, and (I) didn't recognize the great heart that he had, and unbelievable competitiveness and that great savvy that he demonstrates now.
"It's really one of my big misses. I should have figured that out a lot sooner than I did."