Bobby Wagner has met Pete Carroll once before, as a senior at Colony High School, when Carroll, then the head coach at USC, was recruiting Wagner’s teammate Omar Bolden.
Wagner reminded Carroll of that meeting Friday night, minutes after the Seattle Seahawks drafted the Utah State linebacker in the second round of the NFL Draft, with the 47th overall pick.
And after being chided for the scholarship offer that didn’t come, Carroll, now Seattle’s head coach, reminded Wagner exactly why the offer didn’t come.
“He told me that he remembered me,” Wagner said. “And that he remembered that I was about 5-foot-4 at the time.”
Both men have come a long way since then, Carroll as a rising coach in the league and Wagner overcoming obscurity to become one of the rising prospects of the draft.
On Friday, Wagner became the first local player taken in the first two days of the draft. He became the highest player selected in the Gary Andersen era, going a round higher than Curtis Marsh did last year. And he became the highest overall Utah State player taken since Rulon Jones was made the 42nd overall pick by the Denver Broncos in 1980.
“This is a great feeling,” Wagner said. “It surprised me a little bit, but I knew Seattle had a lot of interest because they put me through a lot of stuff that other teams didn’t on my visit.”
Wagner’s draft stock rose significantly over the last few months. Immediately following Utah State’s season, he was the MVP of the Senior Bowl. A bout with pneumonia forced him to miss the NFL pre-draft combine. But he rebounded with a standout performance at his pro day.
Wagner drew interest because of his ability to tackle, his long arms and ability to cover receivers in space. Seattle picked West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin with its first-round pick. The Seahawks plan on using Wagner inside to complement Irvin’s pass rushing.
“They said that they liked me since my visit,” Wagner said. “They said that they can’t wait to get going and get me out there for football.”
Wagner, from California, will now get to remain on the west coast for the beginning of his professional career. He is not expected to be the last Utah State player drafted, as running back Robert Turbin will likely be taken Saturday, perhaps as high as the fourth round.