NEW YORK — Taylor Mays was a highly productive four-year player at USC. He was a big reason why Pete Carroll was able to win three consecutive Pac-10 championships from 2006 to 2008 as the Trojans’ coach.
So you can imagine the dismay that Mays felt when Carroll, now the Seahawks’ coach, picked Texas safety Earl Thomas with the 14th pick in the first round of the NFL draft. Carroll even passed on Mays in the second round, perhaps adding injury to insult.
Mays told the press that he felt lied to by his former coach.
“It was just interesting,” Mays said. “I definitely thought from the relationship that we had, the things that he had told me about what I needed to be aware of for the draft process, the things that I needed to do, I felt he told me the complete opposite of the actions that he took, which was definitely alarming. Some things that he told me I needed to do as a football player, versus the actions that he took and who he took as a safety. I understand it’s a business, but with it being a business, you just need to be honest, and that’s all I was asking for.”
Carroll told NFL Network’s crew in New York that he was “dying” with every pick, saying it was tough to pass up on some of his former players. And conversely, watching them fall down the board. Carroll said that the Seahawks were looking at Mays with the No. 14 selection, but were surprised to find Thomas still available because the Eagles were rumored to go after Thomas. But Carroll said it was difficult, but he had to follow his board.
Well, over the next few years, Mays will have plenty of chances to prove his college coach made a mistake.
The NFC West-rival 49ers took the athletic hitter with, fittingly enough, the 49th pick. Mays, who put on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine two months ago and also was one of the more imposing figures at the Senior Bowl, made for a difficult evaluation.
NFL Network analyst Brian Billick said earlier this week that in talking with other scouts, Mays was one of the most difficult players to analyze in years because of his tantalizing athleticism and average game tape.
As for the Carroll-Mays subplot, tune in when the 49ers visit the Seahawks in Week 1. Mays says he’s just looking forward to playing in San Francisco rather than sticking it to Carroll.
“I look forward to playing for Coach [Mike] Singletary for 16 games more than I look forward to playing against Coach Carroll twice a year,” Mays said.