John Ursua’s lone catch as an NFL rookie was quite a memorable one.
Down 26-21 to DeForest Buckner and the San Francisco 49ers, the former University of Hawaii star and current Seattle Seahawks receiver hauled in an 11-yard pass from Russell Wilson on fourth-and-10, bring the Seahawks to the San Francisco one-yard line with less than 40 seconds remaining.
The Seahawks came oh-so-close to scoring but couldn’t capitalize, giving the 49ers the win and the NFC West division title, which the Niners rode all the way to a Super Bowl appearance.
The catch was quite a surreal memory for Ursua, who was selected in the seventh round by the Seahawks in the 2019 NFL Draft. But the Kailua-Kona native hopes for more memorable moments in the future.
“I just replayed that saying ‘I live for these moments’ in my head. You look back and you think ‘OK, the work was worth it.’ But that’s just the beginning,” he told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello. “My dream wasn’t to just get drafted, and say ‘Oh, I’m in the NFL.’ My dream is to be one of the elite receivers in the game, to be one of the best.”
Ursua was simply electric during his UH career, hauling in a total of 189 passes for 2,662 yards and 24 touchdowns during his three seasons with the Rainbow Warriors.
In his NFL rookie season in 2019, Ursua suited up just three times. The Seahawks have been perennial Super Bowl contenders for a decade and have the firepower to make another run. Although the wide receivers room was crowded last season, the Seahawks did not add any receivers in this year’s draft.
If it weren’t for social distancing, perhaps Ursua would be in San Diego training with Wilson at his estate. It was there that last July, Ursua was just a handful of Seahawks pass-catchers invited for a mini-camp.
“Besides the fact that I wanted to hang out with Russ and Ciara, it was an easy decision for me when he sent out the invitation to all the skill positions, he kind of sent out the baselines of what was going to happen. I tried to take advantage of it. Once he sent the invite I was like ‘Get me the first flight out of here, I’m coming.’
“I think it helped me gain trust with Russ, it helped lay out that I was serious about what I’m doing because getting drafted is just the beginning. That doesn’t mean you’ve done anything yet.”
For now, he 26-year-old is currently back on Oahu training, where he’s remaining patient and safe during the COVID-19 crisis.
“It’s a restart button, right? It’s like ‘You made the team last year, and you’re a rookie last year so you might have gotten away with some things but now it’s time to hit that restart button and you gotta make the team again, you gotta make the team every single week,” Ursua said. “I’m excited for this kind of an opportunity to be in this industry where my job is on the line at every moment and every day until I prove myself otherwise. So I’m excited for it, excited to get back out there.”