Monday, April 21, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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NFL Draft -- Top Picks Share Winning Past

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

KIRKLAND - Shawn Springs wore a suit to meet Seattle. The jacket had no collar, it was sharp, loud and cool. Walter Jones wore jeans and a sweater. And yet under the lights of their first news conference as professional football players they were very comfortable.

Springs is a shout. Jones a mumble. As Jones moved to the podium and nervously began to answer questions yesterday, Springs sat off to the side and picked up a national draft guide. He pouted. Then he smiled.

"I had to laugh," he said. "On me they said, `He sometimes has too much confidence in his God-given talents.' I mean, I do. How can you not be confident in yourself?"

One yells. One shrugs. But both believe they can make the Seattle Seahawks good again.

That is why the Seahawks traded to get the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft to get Springs, then why they traded away the rest of the first day to get to No. 6 and select Jones. They fill the team's two biggest holes: Springs at cornerback and Jones at offensive tackle.

Yet, they are opposites. Springs yelled, "Walter, he's a big man, you know, all they want to do is eat doughnuts, just give him a doughnut, he'll be fine."

Jones, in a room across the hall, said, "Someone asked me, `How come you don't get a suit?' I mean, I feel comfortable like this in my jeans and sweater. I'm just coming here and doing my job."

But yesterday, Jones and Springs both talked about winning. Something they understand. One went to Florida State, the other to Ohio State. "It comes from hard work," Jones said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge. I want to be good. It's just a feeling inside, like when you are walking off the field and say `I did a great job,' you can feel when you have a bad game and when you have a good game. If you are a great player, you will know when you are getting better."

Across the hallway, Springs clapped his hands and pointed to a TV man. "You're always smiling," Springs shouted to him. "I love this, you've always got this smile."

He knows he can be good.

"I've always been this way," he said. "Everyone wants to compare me to Deion Sanders and other people. I'm just Shawn Springs."

His former coaches love him. Springs wants to be the best, they say. He practices with Seahawk receiver Joey Galloway and New England's Terry Glenn - two of the top receivers in the league. He pushes weights long after so many other players have stopped.

He grew up in the NFL, the son of former Dallas Cowboy Ron Springs. He stood on the sidelines, he was in the locker room. There is no way a child who watches all that does not learn confidence too.

Jones had none of this. He comes from a small town in Alabama. His father disappeared 20 years ago and left behind four daughters and four sons. Walter is the youngest. When asked how he learned to run the 40-yard dash in only 4.65 seconds, he laughed slightly.

"I had to learn to run away from them," he said.

Jones played only one year at Florida State after junior college, yet he dominated both places.

The Seattle coaches were still talking about the films of his games with the Seminoles. One, shown numerous times over the weekend, shows Jones with his face mask trapped in the face mask of Florida linebacker James Bates. Jones' helmet is tugged off but remains lodged in Bates' face mask. And still Jones won't stop. He is pushing Bates backward as the film clip ends.

"I wasn't going to let the play go," he said softly yesterday.

Back across the hall, Springs was talking again. "I did an interview at 39,000 feet yesterday," he said. He beamed again, carrying his new Seahawk jersey, No. 26. Jones eventually disappeared.

They are nothing alike, the newest Seattle Seahawks. But the franchise has a lot of hope that they will do the same exact thing.

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


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