Former Husky Chris Polk now a contributor with the Eagles
Former Husky Chris Polk, an undrafted free agent signed by the Eagles, is a backup tailback and key special teams player with Philadelphia, which hosts the Seahawks on Sunday.
/ Seattle Times staff reporter
Seahawks @ Philadelphia, 1:25 p.m., Ch. 13
RENTON – The passage of time has brought no better understanding for Chris Polk of why he didn’t get taken in the 2012 NFL draft.
It has, though, brought a clearer perspective.
“I’m still surprised by it,’’ said Polk, who went unselected after leaving Washington as a junior in 2011 as one of the leading rushers in school history and considered by many analysts as at least a mid-round pick. He eventually signed as a free agent with Philadelphia, where he is now in his third season as a backup tailback and key special-teams player for the Eagles, who are tied for the best record in the NFL at 9-3 and host the Seahawks on Sunday.
Polk, though, quickly adds that “I wouldn’t change (not being taken) for the world. That made me the person I am today.’’
That might seem a surprising admission. But Polk says going unselected gave him an added appreciation for football and his opportunity with the Eagles.
“It was a humbling experience,’’ he said in a phone interview Wednesday. “It made me want it more. Made me want to play harder and longer.’’
The best reason given for Polk’s slide through the draft is that teams were concerned about his health, specifically a shoulder on which he had two surgeries during his UW career.
Polk, though, says he’s never gotten a good answer.
“I really don’t know,’’ he said. “But I’ve put that behind me. That was just the beginning, not the end.’’
Polk’s focus now is making sure he’s prepared for whatever opportunities come his way with the Eagles. Those aren’t easy to come by with Polk listed as the No. 3 tailback behind LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles.
Polk said waiting his turn was “hard at first’’ but that as he has gotten older he has realized the value in soaking in what he can from playing behind two proven NFL tailbacks.
“I am learning so many things so when it comes that time, I’ll be ready,’’ Polk said.
Polk also has battled a nagging hamstring injury this season that held him out of two games. But of late, he has been a regular contributor, getting at least three carries in each of the Eagles’ last six games, including a career-high 11 for 49 yards in a 33-10 win at Dallas on Thanksgiving. He also has 11 kickoff returns, including a 102-yarder for a touchdown against Washington.
“Chris has been outstanding for us,’’ said Eagles coach Chip Kelly Wednesday.
There was a time when Seattle coach Pete Carroll hoped he could say the same.
Polk signed with UW in 2008 after switching his commitment from USC, to whom he had given a verbal pledge months earlier.
Polk’s mother, Edrena, was enamored with then-UW coach Tyrone Willingham as well as thinking there would be a better opportunity for her son with the Huskies. Carroll essentially confirmed that version of events when asked about Polk on Wednesday.
“I’ve got right there dinner-in-the-front-room stories about that one,’’ Carroll said. “We really, really wanted to get him at SC. It just didn’t work out. Family’s involved and all that kind of stuff. Got to win them all over. I didn’t get the mom on that one.’’