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Sunday, April 20, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Jones Continues To Amaze

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Mike Allman started handing around the video tapes in January. The Seahawk co-director of scouting had seen something on them. Walter Jones, this offensive tackle from Florida State - a player who had only one season of major-college football - was absolutely amazing.

Nobody knew much about Jones, a second-team All-American. The Seahawk coaches had heard of him, heard something about him entering the NFL draft, but knew nothing of the player that dominated on the tapes. They were not prepared for what they saw.

"It was one of those things where you look at the tape and you say `God,' " said Howard Mudd, Seattle's offensive line coach. "Then you look at another tape and you say `Well, we'll see if it's for real.' Then I saw another tape and I just went `Wow!' "

Why would the Seahawks give up the rest the first day of the draft and trade up to No. 6 to take a player just a season removed from a junior college? Three video tapes were all they needed to see.

The coaches said the morning couldn't have gone better. They got the two players they wanted more than any others. Ohio State cornerback Shawn Springs was obvious. They had coveted him for weeks. But they barely knew about Jones back in December. By February, they said he could be a star.

"I thought he was too good to be true when we first started looking at him," Mudd said. "Then at the combines he was outstanding. And when you started adding up what kind of players are out there, his stock just went up."

Potential `dream' players

There was something about both Jones and Springs. As the team's coaches started assessing them, there came the realization that the two had a chance to become the kind of players scouts dream of seeing. The kind of players at their positions who come along maybe once or twice a decade.

Dave Brown, Seahawk cornerbacks coach, and Greg McMackin, defensive coordinator, both talked yesterday about Springs' public workout last month at Ohio State. The player leaped 39 inches and yet he fought to jump 40. They laid 225 pounds in front of him and told him to lift it as many times as he could. A prospect who lifts the weights 15 or 16 times is considered extremely strong. He lifted it 19 times.

"I think he's got a great competitive spirit," Brown said.

What also set Springs apart was the fact that he already seems to be a polished product. His technique, the coaches said, is so good he won't have to learn throughout training camp. It is why they hope he will be able to start right away at left corner, opposite Willie Williams, who signed as a free agent.

They expect to start Jones as well, putting him in at left tackle. And while he was considered the second-best offensive lineman to Orlando Pace in the draft, the Seahawks believe he could be one of the best to come along in years.

"The two offensive linemen might be the two best athletes (at that position) to come along in the last 20 years," Mudd said.

In his workout at Florida State, Jones, who weighs 301 pounds, ran the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds. Allman, who was there, was shocked. Mudd, back in Seattle, said it couldn't be right.

"I didn't believe it myself," Allman said.

But it was true. And after that day, the Seahawks knew exactly who they wanted.

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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