Seattle Seahawks WR Penny Hart Seizes Opportunity for ‘Incredible’ Offensive Program
RENTON, WA – When it comes to the art of succeeding and exploding expectations as an underdog, Seahawks third-year Penny Hart could host her own master class.
A graduate of King’s Ridge Christian School in Alpharetta, Ga., Hart was scantily recruited as a two-star athlete, with Georgia State being the only school to offer him a scholarship. All the 5-foot-8 wide receiver did on arrival on campus was break the Panthers’ record books as a true rookie, registering 72 receptions for 1,109 yards and eight touchdowns. Two years later, he racked up 74 receptions for 1,121 yards and eight more touchdowns.
By the time Hart graduated in 2019, he placed second in the program’s history for receiving and receiving yards. He also passed Robert Davis for most career touchdowns and added a punt return for a touchdown to his resume as a senior. He received an invite to the Senior Bowl and excelled in the all-star event, bolstering his NFL stock with a stellar week in Mobile.
Once again, however, Hart has been overlooked and undervalued. Whether it was due to his lack of height, a disappointing workout from the pro day, playing at a smaller school, or a combination of these factors, he didn’t hear his name called during the seven rounds. of the 2019 NFL Draft and ended up signing with the Colts as an undrafted free agent.
But although he was not drafted, Hart did not lack confidence early in his career. Whether in Indianapolis or with another team, he believed himself destined for success in the league.
“Ever since I was little, since I was five when I told my friends I was going to the league, I never doubted myself,” Hart said before training camp. Monday practice. “I never thought about unless, you know, pass and play all the time. So I figured out that, you know, that’s my goal right now and to keep playing football and, you know, to continue serving too.
But I’ve always known it since I graduated from college and competed in the Senior Bowl. No matter what happened, I always knew I was going to be able to keep doing what I wanted to do and keep making my dreams come true.
Things didn’t start well for Hart, who struggled with injuries throughout his first training camp with the Colts and finally received his running papers in early September. Still recovering from a hamstring injury, he returned home with no place on the training squad, awaiting his next opportunity.
Almost two months later, that opportunity finally presented itself. The Seahawks brought in the quick receiver for a practice session and with his hamstrings fully healed, he impressed the coaching staff enough to secure a spot on the practice squad. He remained on the training roster until the end of the season and signed a future / reserve contract in January.
Considered by many to be a feature film to bring the team into training camp last August, Hart has shown himself strong over the past two weeks, showing exceptional chemistry with quarterback Russell Wilson. . Believing their immediate connection to their respective competitive natures, he quickly became one of Wilson’s favorite targets in training, especially during red zone situation drills, while also making a name for himself on special teams.
After initially not being in the 53-man roster, the Seahawks elevated Hart to the active ranks in place of John Ursua days before the season opener against the Falcons. While he didn’t see a lot of offensive action, he played 13 regular season games, producing four special teams tackles, a reception for three yards and a reach for 19 yards.
Seeking to capitalize on his first taste of NFL action and carve out a bigger role in attack, Hart shone throughout Seattle’s offseason schedule. In the minicamp’s final training in a 7v7 drill, he blew up a pair of defenders on a lean post route and landed a spectacular one-handed and over-the-shoulder touchdown from Wilson. . Moments later he scored again on a shallow crossing road.
“You can count on him in so many ways,” Carroll said of the 5-foot-9, 180-pound Hart after the minicamp ended. “Plot your routes correctly, knowing the offense, [playing] several positions, contributing on special teams, his tenacity, the attitude that it is is evident. “
During the six weeks between minicamp and the start of training camp, Hart made his first trip to Southern California to join Wilson and other teammates for their annual pre-camp practice. This provided another opportunity for the young receiver to further strengthen his bond with the franchise quarterback.
The work Hart did on the field in June and July continued in his second training camp as a Seahawk. During the team’s second practice session, with the 6-foot-2 Jordan Miller defensive back draped over him, he highlighted the football with intense contact on a Wilson pitch. Even with the referee throwing a flag for a defensive outfit, he held his own through the floor to draw cheers from over 2,000 fans in attendance.
“I really take pride in every time a game has to be played, every time I can and put myself in a position to play it, then I have to do it and do it,” Hart said of capturing. “You know, it’s not too many opportunities that we get. Every second is almost maybe three seconds or whatever. So if you put that in play, you know, put that in, you got to do that. that you have to do every time. ”
In the first six workouts, with their chemistry seemingly reaching a telepathic phase, Hart was once again one of Wilson’s favorite targets. He’s caught three touchdowns in team drills and so far new coordinator Shane Waldron’s offense seems like the perfect fit for his skills.
“I love what Shane does, which allows us to just be ourselves,” Hart said. “Most important, you know, he told me against the men’s blanket, ‘look, open up.’ And I think it’s one thing that everyone in our reception hall specializes in being able to just open up when it’s time to open up. It allows us to be able to put our identity into the offense. as well as continuing to work with Russ to get Things Done. “
Specifically, referring to how the Rams have used their playing skills with Waldron involved in their attacking call over the past few seasons, Hart appreciates the positional flexibility afforded him and his teammates in the limits of the plan. He’s lined up wide and in the lunge and as a former running back he also expects he can get involved in the running game on the fly at some point.
“Shane does an amazing job just seeing how he did things with the Rams,” Hart remarked. different things on the ground. I really plan on being able to do different things, whether it’s blocking, playing backwards, you know, being on the outside, being in a slide, really doesn’t matter. I really think Shane understands this.
With rookie D’Wayne Eskridge still on the PUP roster struggling with a sore toe, Hart was one of the beneficiaries receiving extra work with the First Team offense. At this point, he took advantage of those chances, continuing to gain more confidence from Wilson and the coaching staff while improving his chances of staying on the 53-man roster.
From Hart’s perspective, his unexpected success after being ignored in the draft three years ago wasn’t as much about his physical tools as it was about finding out who he was. Continuing to learn more about himself every day, he says he has found “peace in my life” which has made football so much easier for him.
While Hart has once again exceeded everyone’s expectations of him and is grateful for compliments from Carroll, Wilson and others, he is far from being satisfied and understands that he must continue to be. fight to keep his place in the league. Standing at a higher level, having positioned himself to play a bigger role for the Seahawks in 2021, he believes he still has a lot to prove.
“I expect my coaches and teammates to think I’m playing well and do what I need to do because I stand at an even higher standard, because I have an obligation to them to do my leaves during the offseason and even when the season rolls in. So I just keep doing what I’m doing and, you know, minding my own business. “