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Seahawks' Pete Carroll admits surprise at Clay Matthews' rapid rise

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Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is about to face one of the more difficult tasks in football this weekend when he and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn attempt to silence premier Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.

The Green Bay defensive stud is one of the best defensive players in the NFL and a key cog in a Packers' defense that is always dangerous.

Carroll knows all about Matthews having coached him back in his college days at USC. But what the Seattle head coach admitted this week in the build-up to the NFC Championship Game was that he didn't realize how good Matthews was going to be.

Late bloomer 

The powerful defensive juggernaut spent the first three seasons of his college career only playing on special teams, leading Carroll to proclaim him as the best special teams playing in college football history.

But it was only in his senior season at USC when Matthews - who gained 50 pounds in college - really came into his own. Since then, Matthews has made the Pro Bowl five times and Carroll feels his failure to recognize Matthews' talent is the biggest mistake of his coaching career.

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Biggest mistake 

"Maybe because of the way he came up, it took him a long time to develop," Carroll explained, reported, "and didn't recognize the great heart that he had, and unbelievable competitiveness and the great savvy that he demonstrates now."

Even though Carroll lists the issues that Matthews had during college, which clearly made his progression harder to predict, he is still not letting himself off for what he labels a "big" mistake.

"It's really one of my big misses. I should have figured that out a lot sooner than I did. He made the rest of it history and been an extraordinary player ever since."

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