Former PSU Viking has bigger role than ever with Seattle Seahawks

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF MICHAEL WORKMAN - DeShawn Shead, a defensive back and stalwart on special teams for the Seattle Seahawks, celebrates a big late-season victory over San Francisco.PHOENIX — DeShawn Shead was like the kid on his second visit to the world's biggest candy store Tuesday during Super Bowl XLIX media day at US Airways Center.

"My second time, and it's just as good as it was the first time around," said the Seattle Seahawks' special-teams stalwart, who will make his second Super Bowl appearance Sunday against New England at the University of Phoenix Stadium. "It's great to be here. There's a lot of craziness going on, but it's good craziness."

The 6-2, 220-pound cornerback/safety is in his second season with the Seahawks after a stellar four-year career at Portland State. The Palmdale, Calif., native signed with Seattle as a free agent after his senior year with the Vikings (2011) and spent the 2012 season on the team's practice squad. In 2013, Shead played five regular-season games and all three postseason games -- including the Seahawks' 48-9 Super Bowl romp past Denver -- on special teams and as a reserve in the secondary.

This season, Shead has been a mainstay on special teams and has seen more duty in the secondary, earning his first career start and making four tackles at safety (in place of the injured Kam Chancellor) on Nov. 2 against Oakland. Shead blocked a punt that led to a field goal against Arizona on Nov. 23.

"My hard work is paying off," he said. "For a guy like me, coming from a smaller-division school, it's not like you're starting out as a first-round pick. You have to work your way up. For it to pay off like this is a blessing and a great feeling."

Shead hadn't thought about a potential NFL career until after his redshirt freshman year at Portland State in 2008.

"I had a pretty good season, and the NFL Draft Scout website had me rated pretty high," he said. "When I saw that, that's the moment I thought I had an opportunity to play in the NFL. I increased my work load even more after that."

Shead started at cornerback his first three seasons at Portland State before being moved to safety as a senior. With the Seahawks, he has been used at both positions.

"I'm getting better at both," he said. "I feel comfortable at both now. With my size, speed and athletic ability, I can play all the positions in the secondary. That's great for me because it makes me more valuable as a player."

Shead, in the final three of his three-year contract with the Seahawks, isn't sure whether he will be considered a restricted or unrestricted free agent after the season.

"I'd love to come back to Seattle, but that will take care of itself," he said. "Right now, my focus ain't on that."

Shead's family arrives in Phoenix Thursday, including fiancé Jessica Martinez, to whom he proposed after the Seahawks' overtime win over Denver at CenturyLink Field in September. Shead and Martinez, who played soccer at Washington State and is in law school at Washington, will wed in summer 2016.

Right now, though, Shead's focus ain't on that. It's about Sunday and adding to his Super Bowl ring collection.

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