Elated to get to talk to another Pittsburgh Steeler, rookie center/guard Collin Rahrig. Rahrig was invited to the team’s rookie camp , during the interview we talk about how his initial contract after the draft fell through, and then was signed to the roster following Micah Hatchie’s injury at the end of the spring.
Collin was a great guy to talk to with informative answers and some cool stories about his journey. Many thanks to him for his time.
Q: You originally went to Indiana just to study without plans to play football. You were a rugby guy. Take me through exactly how you ended up on the football team?
A: I played football through high school. Played rugby. Got some smaller D2, D3 looks. Not really any MAC or anything like that. I could’ve walked on somewhere else. I decided I wouldn’t go and play anywhere. I was just going to go to school. Both my brothers went to IU. They just went as students, they were on the club rugby team. I figured I’d go do the same thing. Go to the school of my choice, academic wise.
And then they had a defensive lineman or linebacker at that time who needed a foot surgery so then they had an open spot going into camp. So then they offered me a preferred walk on spot. That happened on a Friday and camp started on a Wednesday. I hadn’t even really said anything to them. But they brought me in less than a week later. I kind of got lucky with a coaching transition. Was able to play early. He was a smaller, undersized guy. Got my foot in the door and see what it was like.
Q: What sport do you still like more? Rugby or football?
A: I love football. From what I’ve heard from coaches and stuff, I didn’t want to go to the D2 or D3 because they can’t give scholarships. I just thought go big or go home, that type of thing. It turned out to be a great decision that I did but a lot of it was luck where I ended up, how it happened. It’s kinda crazy but you keep working and thigns will go well.
Q: You were brought in for rookie minicamp but didn’t receive a contract. Then you were brought back in the spring after an injury. After rookie minicamp, was there any indication from the team you’d be on their speed dial?
A: During the draft, they wanted to bring me in as a priority free agent. I tore my pec back in Feburary while I was lifting, getting ready for my Pro Day. The whole reason for them not signing me was because of the injury and they thought I wasn’t quite ready yet. I was cleared by my doctor but I was only three months out from my surgery and they didn’t want to push it too much. The timing was coming up where I had done some other workouts. And then it happened where another guy got hurt. But that’s the way it works. You don’t want to ever happen to somebody but you can’t change that part of the game. They called my number and I got right to work.
Q: To clarify, if you hadn’t been injured, they would’ve signed you right after the draft?
A: Yeah. They brought me in, they started talking to me right at the beginning of the 7th round. We almost had a deal ready to go before the draft was even over to sign. We were pretty happy with that. I always loved the Steelers, always grew up watching them, loved the organization, loved the history behind them. Couldn’t wait to become a Steeler.
Q: You were signed in the middle of OTAs and from what I heard, were basically in uniform within a day of getting signed. Take me through those 24 or 48 hours. How crazy is it?
A: It was actually kinda crazy. I live up on the south side of Indianapolis. I go down with the training staff there, use the facility, and I love being there. So I drive 45 minutes home and started getting dinner ready with my fiancé. Then I get the call that somebody got hurt that day. They said hey, can you come out today. I was just like woah, cause when you see that area code come up it’s like, Pittsburgh Pennsylavania, you don’t know what’s going to happen. They said can you get on a plane tonight. I was packed up, headed to the airport. I live about 15-20 minutes away from there. I was there within an hour.
Couple crazy things happened with the flight. My first flight was supposed to go into Charlotte. And they just completely canceled it because the crew was sick or something. And then we started trying to get on another flight and that was delayed and they ended up canceling that. And then I was able to get on a third one, go up to O’Hare and go into Pittsburgh. So I didn’t actually get in until 2 AM, and then the drive from the airport over to the hotel. I probably got there around three o’clock. I had a nice 6 AM wakeup to go see the doctor and finish my physical and get cleared. That next day, around 4 or 5 o’clock I was dragging pretty good.
Q: And there was practice that day too, right?
A: Yeah. I was able to get in there and practice. It was the second day of the minicamp. I was able to get in there. I got in there when meetings were halfway over after getting the physical and kind of jumped in. And then went through the practice for the two and a half hours after that. It was a pretty big roller coast ride. Going and stopping. It was pretty taxing. But once you’re there, you’re a kid living your dream. That’s the best thing about it. You’ll travel as far as you need to get where you need to be.
Q: You played all three interior spots at Indiana. What position are you most comfortable with?
A: I think I’m most comfortable probably at center. Being my agility and able to move both left and right pretty quickly. Little more of a balanced stance. I’m 295 so you can get away with being undersized a little bit more because you always have help from your left and right guard. I’d say I feel most comfortable but when it comes to here, you need to be able to play all three just like I did in college. Wherever they want to put me. I don’t make that call, I just go.
Q: Where did they play you during the spring? Do you have an idea of where you’ll line up in training camp?
A: Munchak had me at left and center a little bit. Depending on who was practicing that day. It’s getting kind of close after OTAs. Last couple days they don’t want anyone getting hurt. Some guys took the day off. They rotate me wherever and kind of seeing what’s comfortable for me and seeing where I’m the best fit for them.
Q: You said you are 295 pounds. So they were happy with your weight?
A: They’re happy with my weight. They didn’t say anything too much. They said to stay there, stay healthy, stay where you feel best. Maybe coming into camp they’ll ask me to gain another five pounds or so. I’m willing to do whatever they want me to do. Whether they want me to gain five pounds, lose five pounds. I think the best thing is you come in in shape and they’ll tell you what they want from you.
Q: Is there almost a sort of fraternity created with you and the rest of the undrafted offensive lineman?
A: I’d say anywhere you go the o-line is the most close, tight-knit group out of the whole entire team. Back when I did the East/West Shrine game, [Miles Dieffenbach] me and B.J. Finney were on the West team. So we came in knowing each other already. So we’re pretty good friends. We’ll kind of hit each other up every once in awhile. It’s one of things where everybody is coming for the same thing, everyone wants to see each other do good, while you’re also fighting for a position. So it’s just the competition, you gotta beat each other out to get the spot you want but you don’t want to do it a dirty way. You want to help each other out and beat them with your skill.
Q: St. Vincent college is only a few days away. What have the veterans or coaches told you about what to expect? Any advice stick out to you?
A: The best thing is come acclimated for the conditions. Be in shape. Come healthy and ready just to go. Just be ready to go. They’re going to throw some things at you, that’s the hard part about it. They want to see how you react to those things. Especially for a guy like me who wasn’t here for all of OTAs. I get thrown in there after being there for three days of rookie minicamp and the two days for the other minicamp. So you gotta do everything on the fly and do your best and perform the way they want them to.