He wasn’t even a regular starter during his final season at the University of Montana.
But blessed with elite speed and a good work ethic, Donny Lisowski showed Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll enough during the team’s rookie minicamp last week as one of 34 invited tryout players to earn a three-year contract.
“It’s something I always dreamed of,” said the Seattle native and former O’Dea High star about the chance to play at CenturyLink Field. “Theres nothing like playing in your hometown in front everyone you grew up with. I like Coach Carroll. I like his philosophy and the whole coaching staff. I feel like it’s a really good fit for me. I like the players, too.”
Lisowski opened the eyes of NFL scouts by running the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at his pro day. He then caught the attention of Seattle coaches with an impressive workout at the Seahawks’ pro day for local prospects on April 5. That led to the invitation to Seattle’s rookie minicamp.
At 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds, Lisowski showed the ability to defend bigger receivers on deep routes on the outside and the quickness to match up on slot receivers inside. He finished with three interceptions and a couple of deflected passes. Carroll also tried him out as a slot receiver.
The Seattle coach likely saw a little bit of himself in Lisowski, a high-effort defensive back from a smaller school looking for an opportunity. As an undersized all-conference free safety at the University of the Pacific, Carroll failed to get drafted in what was then a 17-round NFL draft in 1973.
“He was all over the place out here,” Carroll said of Lisowski. “He ran extremely fast when he showed up for a workout day, and then he went out here and made a bunch of plays. So I was really fired up about him. I think he’ll surprise you. I’m anxious to see what he can do on special teams and all kinds of stuff.”
Lisowski, 23, was an option quarterback for O’Dea in 2007, when the Fighting Irish lost to Skyline in the Class 3A state championship game.
As a senior at Montana, Lisowski played mostly as the Grizzlies’ fifth defensive back in passing situations and on special teams.
But he played well down the stretch, starting three games his senior season and finishing with 37 tackles. Lisowski also returned an interception for a 35-yard touchdown in Montana’s 48-10 playoff win over Northern Iowa.
And he earned Big Sky special-teams player of the year honors.
“His best football is clearly in front of him,” said Lisowski’s agent, Ken Staninger. “At the end of the year he started some games, and the more he played the better he got. He’s just developing.”
Montana cornerbacks coach Aric Williams said Lisowski continued to improve each season but really made a commitment to play his best during his final year.
“Once he bought in and was ready to learn, he soaked up everything,” Williams said. “I told him that it’s up to you, what you put in is what you get out. And he bought in and worked hard.
“I’m very proud of Donny. I’m not surprised at all with the talent he’s blessed with and the work ethic that he has. I told him to never be comfortable. You still have to make the team and get on the field.”
Lisowski understands he still has work to do.
“You have to play with confidence no matter what,” he said. “Basically I knew I had to come in and do something spectacular and definitely be a playmaker. So you can’t come in here afraid.”firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/seahawks @eric_d_williams