In no way does Cyril Grayson fit the typical mold of an NFL rookie.
For starters, he has spent the past five years at LSU as an All-American 400-meter runner on the men’s track and field team. He did not play a down of football anywhere.
Even his weekend at the Seahawks’ rookie minicamp was eventful. The 23-year-old missed Friday because he was going through LSU’s graduation ceremony in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
“I was home for 25 hours,” Grayson said. “It was a quick turnaround.”
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What stands out about Grayson (5 foot 9, 178 pounds) among NFL hopefuls is the same trait that intrigued Seattle from the first time one of its scouts showed up at his LSU pro day: His burn-by-you burst.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll raved about Grayson’s hands, too — especially on deep passes and punts.
“He has competed at a really high level in his sporting career, and you can tell that confidence carries over into what he’s coming into here (in the NFL),” Carroll said. “It’s not too big for him to go for it.”
Grayson played football and was an honor student at Rummel High School in Louisiana, but signed with LSU for track.
He intended to go out for the football team, too, but the NCAA denied his request, ruling that an athlete on scholarship in another, smaller sport could not play football.
“My next option was pro,” Grayson said. “I was either going to the NFL, or CFL or something to get my chance.”
Allowed to participate in LSU’s pro day in early April, that is where Grayson turned heads with his straight-line speed, lateral quickness and jumping ability.
He ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the pro day, but had been clocked in the 4.2 range before that.
In attendance was former Seahawks scout Ed Dodds, who has since has taken a job with the Indianapolis Colts. Dodds was so impressed by what he saw, he set up a flight for Grayson to visit Seattle before the day ended.
In a matter of days, Grayson signed a three-year, free agent deal with the Seahawks. And he has been at the VMAC ever since, working out and getting caught up in football.
“He studies. He stays late. He’s in early,” Carroll said. “It’s been a really beautiful first impression he’s made on us. We’re going to be patient with him because he has such good, natural talent.”
For a long-striding 400 runner, Grayson displayed quick feet Saturday and Sunday to get in and out of route-running cuts in small spaces.
“He’s a natural out there,” said fellow Seahawks rookie receiver Amara Darboh.
As far as learning the playbook, Grayson said in the past month he’s received valuable tips on how to study it from Seattle veterans, notably Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse and Paul Richardson.
In that sense, he was ahead of some of the other newcomers who reported for rookie minicamp Friday.
“(There) wasn’t as much learning I had to do this weekend,” Grayson said.
“I had to rest, because I was really tired from traveling.”