Thursday, February 9, 2006

Fielder’s Choice
By Barry Burleson

LeSueur part of Super Bowl

Holly Springs was represented in Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Jeremy LeSueur, former star athlete for the Holly Springs High School Hawks, was in Detroit as a member of the Seattle Seahawks practice squad.

His story was featured in the January 27 edition of the Detroit Free Press, over a week before the game. I noticed a copy of the article Monday morning while visiting the Holly Springs High School library to take a photograph.

LeSueur was at home in Holly Springs a few weeks back when the call came from his agent. The Seahawks wanted his services. They wanted him to get on a plane, fly to Seattle and help the team practice.

He’s a fighter. He doesn’t give up. He loves the game. Despite being released by two teams in the past two years (the Broncos and the Jets), he accepted the Seahawks’ offer.

And on Sunday, LeSueur was able to be a part of football’s biggest showcase, not dressed to play, but still a Seahawk.

The Holly Springs High School graduate was a standout in football (playing for coach Sammie Greer) and track and an honor roll student. He is the son of Jeremiah and Annetta LeSueur of Holly Springs.

He played cornerback for the University of Michigan. He made the All Big Ten Second Team his senior season. He played in the Rose Bowl and later competed for the North all-stars in the Senior Bowl at Mobile, Ala.

He graduated from Michigan in December 2003 with a bachelor of arts degree in sports management and communications.

In the April 2004 National Football League draft, LeSueur was drafted in the third round (85th overall) by the Denver Broncos.

“It’s really a dream come true,” LeSueur told me then in a telephone interview. “I’m confident in my ability.”

Hernia surgery cost LeSueur his rookie season. He worked hard to come back but was cut by the Broncos. The New York Jets signed him. He was later let go by the Jets, too, and at the end of this past regular season came home to Mississippi.

But, LeSueur’s dream of playing in the NFL continues, thanks to outstanding determination and desire.

He knows players can make it from the practice squad to NFL playing time.

The sports writer for the Detroit Free Press, Shawn Windsor, caught LeSueur standing in the hall outside the locker room at the Seahawks’ practice facility, preparing to head back to his hotel room, his home since he was called by the Seahawks.

“It’s a learning station,” he said, “a stopping point.”

Most importantly, it was an opportunity for LeSueur to be around a championship team, and maybe, just maybe, someone will take notice of his talents and sign him.

“Just being around a championship team, you pick things up, things you can take with you,” LeSueur told the Detroit Free Press writer.

The practice squad plays the role of the team’s next opponent during workouts. They play a key role in game preparations.

In the Detroit Free Press story, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck credited the Seahawks’ practice squad for the team’s romp over Carolina in the National Football Conference championship contest. He said the different looks provided by defensive backs like LeSueur make the game easier on Sunday.

“They are out there working just as hard as we are, sometimes harder,” Seahawks receiver D.J. Hackett told the newspaper writer, “and they don’t get to play on Sunday.”

LeSueur is no stranger to hard work. And that dedication will continue, whether in the NFL or some other career.

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