Mon, 06 Feb 2023

Tariq Woolen set a franchise rookie-record for interceptions in a season while earning praise from coaches and teammates.John Boyle

As the Seahawks climbed to 7-5 following Sunday's 27-23 win over the Los Angeles Rams, the exceptional play of the rookie class continued to be a focal point. University of Texas-San Antonio alum Tariq Woolen recorded interception No.6 on the year, setting a franchise-record for interceptions by a rookie.

In April, Seattle selected Woolen in the fifth round, a 6-foot-4 former Roadrunners wideout that broke the Senior Bowl max speed record. An emotional Woolen reflected on the journey from waiting to hear his name called to today - citing his personal list of goals he carries in his phone.

"I got a list of goals in my phone that I look at," said Woolen. "One of my goals, you know, I passed one of them already. I just got a couple more to go, but I just have faith in myself."

At one point, Woolen had to pause to collect himself when discussing how far he has come from being a fifth-round pick to now leading the NFL in interceptions and leading cornerbacks in Pro-Bowl voting.

"It's a blessing," he said. "I remember on draft day, just sitting in the living room-I don't want to get too emotional, but I remember sitting in front of my family, getting calls from different people, getting calls from different people, and I was just embarrassed. I was just seeing corners go, corners go, corners go, and I was just like, 'Dang, so I'm just about to be here.'"

Coach Pete Carroll highlighted Woolen as he broke down Seattle's comeback road win at the presser.

"The guys played like crazy," said Carroll. "Tariq gets a pick. I understand that that gives him a franchise record. He's having a great season. He was beat a couple times today but came back out of it and made some plays that were really fortunate, but you got be a little lucky sometimes too."

Woolen's six interceptions tie him for first in the league, the most for a cornerback.

Seahawks Legends like K.J. Wright and Richard Sherman have taken a liking to Woolen, taking him under their wing. And as safety Quandre Diggs pointed out, Woolen is also showing his versatility, stepping up his play in run defense.

"I mean the thing that I was impressed with just his tackling today," said Diggs. "He was physical. The picks and all that is cool, but you don't want to be labeled as a cover corner. You want to be somebody that has an all-around game, and I think that was more impressive than interceptions. We know he can do that, we know he can play man, we know he can get pass breakups. But teams are going to try him in the run game, and he took that step today which was very cool for me to see."

As playoff time nears, Woolen continues to produce for a Seattle team pushing for a berth and more respect.

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