Former Gamecock Lemuel Jeanpierre is enjoying life in the NFL as well as the Seattle Seahawks' playoff run.
Jeanpierre, who played with South Carolina from 2005-2009, was an undrafted free agent acquisition for the Kansas City Chiefs after last year's NFL Draft. He found a home in Seattle after parting ways with Kansas City before the season began.
Jeanpierre is currently a backup center and guard for the Seahawks, and was called up from the team's practice squad before last week's playoff-opening win over the New Orleans Saints.
Seattle travels to Chicago on Sunday.
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Jeanpierre was able to watch his former team's SEC East-winning season while cutting his teeth in the NFL. Among the Gamecocks he kept in touch with from this year's team were offensive linemen Jarriel King, Hutch Eckerson, Garrett Chisolm, Kyle Nunn, Rokevious Watkins and T.J. Johnson.
In the big league he crossed paths with former teammates Captain Munnerlyn, Jamon Meredith, Clifton Geathers and Darian Stewart, among others.
You played for Steve Spurrier and now Pete Carroll. How special is that?
I'm very blessed to be in that position. Coach Carroll is high energy all the time. What you see on TV is what he is all the time. He preaches competition, same thing Coach Spurrier did. Coach Spurrier loves competition. They're both great coaches. You see a lot of likenesses in the things they do and what they preach.
How has your NFL experience been so far?
It's going real good. I was pleasantly surprised that it's very similar to what Coach Spurrier does. He runs an NFL-type operation. I was really comfortable with my transition.
Folks in Kansas City called you "J.P." Do they call you J.P. in Seattle or Lem?
They call me Lem. A lot of people when they first see my name, they're like "Huh?" before they even try.
You were activated from the practice squad in Seattle before the Saints game. What was that like to get called up to the 53-man roster?
It really hasn't hit me yet, even now. It's still surreal, just being on the 53.
You'll be traveling to Chicago this weekend. Talk about the task ahead at Soldier Field.
They're a good team. We've just got to execute. The coaches have put a lot of work in. In the NFL, nothing is given to you, as you see week to week. You can't go by a team's record.
What's your take on the big win last week over New Orleans?
The crowd was amazing. You go out there and you see the defending Super Bowl champs. We knew we had a plan. What they did last year was related to last year.
What did you think about the Gamecocks' season that just ended?
It was surreal watching them. When they did good things, I felt like I was there with them. When things weren't going so well, I was feeling with them. It's kind of weird when you're not actually playing and you're on the outside looking in. Being a former player, you have a better understanding of why things happen. We won the SEC East, which is a big step for our program. I see better things in the future because Coach Spurrier is never satisfied.
What advice would you offer any Gamecocks who will be shooting for the NFL this coming spring and summer?
You have to work hard. You have to come out there ready to outwork everybody. You've got to be able to learn more than one thing. You've got to be able to take coaching. If you've got the attitude where you're going to be lazy, you won't make it long at all. Everything you do, you've got to try to be better and faster than the next person.