RENTON Marcel Reece has seen the beginning of the Washington Huskies’ abyss.
The last time he played for a Seattle team, he was a wide receiver for Tyrone Willingham’s Washington Huskies. That was a 2006 and ‘07, as a transfer from El Camino College in California. He played in 25 games, the last 13 starts, for UW teams that went 5-7 overall and 3-6 in the Pac-10 in ‘06 then 4-9 and 2-7 in the league. Three years later, Washington went 0-12 as Willingham was fired.
So, oh yeah, Reece is jazzed about seeing the Huskies rise to the top of college football a decade later. He watched UW win the game last week that got them in the national-championship playoff, with a semifinal up next against top-ranked Alabama in three weeks.
“I’m a Husky for life,” he said Wednesday before his first practice as the newest Seahawk. “And they are doing well now. I got to watch them in their (Pac-12) championship game.”
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That was last week’s UW win over Colorado in Santa Clara, California, near Reece’s Bay Area home.
He says he still has roots in Seattle from his college days.
“A lot,” he said. “My home church. Pastor. Friends. Ex-teammates.”
Now the guy who caught eight touchdown passes as a wide receiver in his final college season for UW, before no NFL team drafted him, is with the Seahawks – as a four-time Pro Bowl fullback. How did that happen?
“Honestly, I showed up to training camp," Reece said of his rookie season with the Oakland Raiders in 2010, “and Al Davis said I was his new fullback. That’s how it went.”
The late Raiders owner was notorious for his hands-on, sometimes one-way approach to his players, and his acumen for talent acquisition and allocation.
Seahawks offensive-line coach Tom Cable was the Raiders’ head coach when Davis switched Reece to fullback on that summer day in Napa, California, six years ago.
Asked Wednesday if he knew the owner was making Reece the Raiders’ new fullback, Cable smiled knowingly.
"Yeah," Cable said, "if we didn’t before, we knew it after."
Davis never got to see Reece become a Pro Bowl fullback. He passed away in October 2011. Reece’s first Pro Bowl selection came a year later.
“But,” Reece said of Davis with a smile on Wednesday, “he sees me.”
How much did Reece appreciate Davis? After the owner’s death, Reece wore a black T-shirt with "AL" printed inside a silver Raiders shield under his shoulder pads during games.
He was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl last winter, then got suspended for the final game of the 2015 season and the first three games of this season for violating the league’s policy against performance-enhancing drugs. He reportedly said a legal "natural plant root extract by the name of Umcka" he took converted into the banned substance "methylhexanamine."
The day after his suspended ended, in September, the Raiders released him. He’d been working out in the Bay Area from then until last week when the Seahawks called him for a tryout.
Cable said Reece the Raider had the perfect response for a coach when Davis told him he was changing positions: "Whatever you want me to do."
"You cherish those guys at this level," Cable said. "They are not worried about what they think they’ve always been. They just want to be a part of this."
Reece had the same mentality Wednesday when asked what role he expects with the Seahawks.
"I told them I’m here for whatever they want, whatever they need," Reece said.
That need is fullback.
Starter Will Tukuafu is in the league’s concussion protocol. He missed practice Wednesday. The Seahawks must proceed on the assumption he won’t play Sunday at Green Bay.
Running backs coach Sherman Smith told me that Reece, Seattle’s new No. 44, is ready for how the Seahawks uses their fullback. That’s usually a dozen or so snaps a game as a lead blocker.
With Reece’s skills, he could be a fill-in for injured C.J. Prosise as a third-down, pass-catching back, too.
"He’s got great athleticism. I remember (coaching) against him when he was at Oakland, and I was amazed at his ability to run routes and running the football," Smith said following Wednesday’s practice. "For us to be able to get him, boy, we are excited to have him.
"He’ll be game-ready enough to play (against the Packers), for what we want him to get out there and do. We are not going to try to get him out there and play 50, 60 plays. I think he’s in good enough shape to compete."
EXTRA POINTS: Starting strongside LB Mike Morgan missed practice because of a hip injury. He had the first interception of his career last weekend in the win over Carolina. … TE Jimmy Graham and DT Ahtyba Rubin got routine, veteran rest. … WR Paul Richardson (hamstring), LB Brock Coyle (foot) and TE Brandon Williams (knee) were limited in practice. Coach Pete Carroll said Richardson "should be fine for the game" in Green Bay and Coyle "has a really good chance to get back" this weekend.