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January 17, 2012

Chancellor quickly making a name for himself in the Pacific Northwest

By: Jimmy Robertson

At this point a year ago, Kam Chancellor had just concluded a rookie season in the NFL in which he played in every game, but like most first-year players, suffered through some ups and downs.

A year later, he found himself on the cusp of his first Pro Bowl appearance.

Photo courtesy of the Seattle Seahawks

Chancellor, the Seattle Seahawks starting strong safety, was named a Pro Bowl first alternate just a few days after Christmas. He gets to play in the game if another player at his position backs out or becomes injured and unable to play. He would be the 10th former Tech player ever to play in the Pro Bowl and the second defensive back (DeAngelo Hall).

“I’m excited,” Chancellor said. “It’s something I can look back on. I played hard over the entire season. I’ve tried to be outstanding at my position, and it’s [being named a Pro Bowl alternate] a tremendous accomplishment in my first season as a starter.”

The Norfolk, Va., native and former Tech free safety became the starter at strong safety for Seattle after sitting behind Lawyer Milloy last season. The former fifth-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft played in 16 games as a rookie, and he finished with 23 tackles (17 solo) and a sack. His 11 special teams tackles ranked second on the team.

The year as a reserve enabled him to adjust to the NFL. Obviously, the schemes in the NFL are more complicated, but Chancellor said the speed of the game provided the toughest challenge for him.

“That was the toughest part,” he admitted. “We practiced fast at Tech, but in this league, you go full speed right from the start, and everyone in this league is fast. At first, the scheme of the defense was complicated for me, but the more I studied the defense, the more I saw how it all tied in together. So I’d say the speed of the game was the bigger adjustment for me.”

Chancellor adjusted well. In fact, he adjusted so well that the Seahawks’ organization decided not to re-sign Milloy. That decision basically left the position in the hands of Chancellor, and he made the most of it.

He finished with 97 tackles (75 solo) – he led the team in solo tackles – and a sack in 15 starts this past season (he missed one game with an injury). He also had four interceptions, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He readily admits that a lot of what he learned came from Milloy.

“He’s a tough guy,” Chancellor said. “He’s got a lot of energy, and he brings that to the field every single day. He knows how to time blitzes. He just had a knack for doing that. He’s an aggressive strong safety, and I try to be like that.

“I took the opportunity, and I tried to take advantage of it. I kept working hard, and I tried to be a voice on our defense, just like when I was at Tech. I wanted to be the best at my position.”

Chancellor won praise for his play this season from a lot of people, including ESPN color analyst Jon Gruden, a former NFL coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders. Gruden heaped accolades upon Chancellor in Seattle’s nationally televised win over Philadelphia late in the year.

Chancellor never saw a copy of the broadcast, but friends and family members texted him to let him know about Gruden’s comments.

“A lot of people told me,” Chancellor said. “I’m honored that he said those things. I’m a humble guy, and I try to remain humble. I appreciate it, but at the same time, I’m just trying to get better.”

Chancellor appears to have a bright future with the Seahawks. He proved himself on the field this past season, impressing Seattle coach Pete Carroll with his play. He enjoys playing for Carroll and his staff, a group that reminds him a lot of his former coaching staff.

“Coach Carroll is a lot like Coach Beamer,” Chancellor said. “He reminds me of Coach Beamer because he’s a player’s coach. He’s got a lot of energy, and he’s always challenging us. He gets us to do what we’ve got to do, and he and his staff respond to what we can do.”

Chancellor also loves the city of Seattle despite being all the way across the country from his hometown. Rabid Seahawks fans make their team feel special and have long been considered among the best fan bases in the NFL.

“I like it a lot out here,” Chancellor said. “It’s much different than the East Coast. There’s a lot of rain out here, but the people are friendly, and the fans, the team and the coaches have all welcomed me with open arms.”

The only thing that would make life better would be a few more victories. Last year, the Seahawks made the playoffs, but this season, they struggled at times and failed to make the postseason. San Francisco, under new coach Jim Harbaugh, won the NFC West.

“It’s been tough, but we’ve got a lot of new guys here,” Chancellor said. “We’ve got to rebuild and get some guys in the right spots. Then we need to start feeding off of each other. Hopefully, we can do that and be ready to go into next season.”

And hopefully, he can keep his career on the rise. He pointed out, correctly, that he only needed to take care of the little things and the big things would then come.

“I think the one thing I didn’t realize about the NFL was how much of a business it was,” he said. “Growing up, all you think about is football, but this is a business.

“But you can’t control that part. All you can do is go out and try to make plays. That’s the part you control, and that’s the part that I’m focusing on. If I do that, everything else will take care of itself.”