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Mike Ferreri: Seahawks' Baldwin keeps proving people wrong

Mike Ferreri: Seahawks' Baldwin keeps proving people wrong
Seattle Seahawks' wide receiver Doug Baldwin runs into the end zone to score a touchdown on a reception in the second half of an NFL football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
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SEATTLE -- By recruiting guru standards, Doug Baldwin should have never played Division 1 college football. By Mel Kiper ESPN/NFL super scout standards, Baldwin has no business playing in the National Football league.

Those standards never met Doug Baldwin.

Growing up in Pensacola, Fla., Baldwin was always the little guy on the field. He was a good player but too small to attract the likes of the big Florida college programs at Miami, Florida State and Florida. If Baldwin was going to continue to play football after high school, it would have to be at a Division 3 school.

But there on the Florida Panhandle, at Gulf Breeze High School, Doug Baldwin played well enough to catch the eye of the owner of the Pensacola Daily News, who just happened to have one of his children on the Stanford Administration. The owner of the paper convinced his son to get word to the Cardinal football staff about this small receiver that plays with a huge heart down in Pensacola. Stanford coaches eventually came and saw for themselves what the kid was all about.

It wasn't long before Doug Baldwin was headed west.

When Baldwin arrived in California, it wasn't an easy adjustment. "I didn't know if I belonged," he said. "The culture shock of going from Florida to the West Coast -- it was different and at the same time the intellectual minds at Stanford are far beyond anything I had ever experienced before. I always questioned whether I truly belonged in that university, but I made the best of it. I enjoyed it, and at the same time it was some of the best moments of my life."

The adjustment to Palo Alto and the college environment didn't take a couple weeks, it took a couple of years.

"Right around my junior year, I started getting relaxed in the classroom and knowing my way around the campus, having fun and enjoying the college life," Baldwin said.

By then, Baldwin was making a name for himself on the field and in the classroom. He was in the National Honor Society, the Math Honor Society and the Spanish National Honor Society. His final year at Stanford was his best on the field. He led the Cardinal with 857 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns.  But based on his size, he wouldn't have a place in the NFL. He would have to put that Stanford education to use.

The 2011 draft came and went and no one called. If Doug Baldwin was going to make it in the NFL, he would have to do it as a free agent. Undrafted free agents are the players invited to training camp with the slimmest of margins to make the team.  Baldwin didn't care, he's been playing against the odds his entire career.

In the summer of 2011, he landed in camp with the Seahawks where he did the one thing he does best: work with a chip on his shoulder. Baldwin has an intense fire to compete, but any doubt in his abilities turns that fire in his belly into an inferno. In Seattle, he caught Pete Carroll's eye -- and general manager John Schnedier's too. The little receiver from Stanford, who wasn't supposed to be in the NFL,earned a spot on the roster.

Now in his third season with the Seahawks, Baldwin is a top target for Russell Wilson on a team poised to make a long run in the playoffs. The little guy who was only supposed to play Division 3 football has done all right. In three seasons, he has caught 116 passes for 1,740 yards and 10 touchdowns.

"You're gonna face adversity in life, it's never gonna be an easy path to your dreams or whatever you want to become," Baldwin said. "The advice I pulled out of every situation was never give up, keep going, that's the process for me and continuously as I get older."

Doug Baldwin keeps proving people wrong, he likes it that way.
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