With a look to the offseason, the Pittsburgh Steelers are in the process of shaping their summer roster. They re-signed nearly everyone on their practice squad, sans Tyler Murphy, to future deals that can keep this players through camp. They also added several players from outside the organization, as is the norm, to futures deal. We’ll take you through each one and give you the skinny on each player. Nothing incredibly in-depth but enough background on each to get your familiar with who these people are.
Ray Vinopal/S 5’10 197 – Pittsburgh
Vinopal had a solid, though not spectacular, career at Pitt. Originally committed to Michigan, he transferred in 2010 despite seeing substantial playing time, starting six times for the Wolverines. But then Rich Rodriguez was fired for Brady Hoke and an apparent family matter came up, leading Vinopal, a Youngstown native, to move closer to home and play for the Panthers.
After sitting out the 2011 season, his role mainly consisted of playing on special teams in 2012. He permanently cracked the starting lineup the following year, finishing with 83 tackles and three interceptions. That included a career day on the national stage against Notre Dame where Vinopal picked off two passes and forced a fumble in a 28-21 Panthers’ win.
Named a team captain for his senior year, Vinopal was a stabilizing force in the secondary with 68 tackles, two forced fumbles, and a pair of picks. Average size and speed were arguably big influences in him not getting drafted but he turned up as a UDFA with the Dallas Cowboys. He was cut in mid-Augsut during the training camp roster shuffle.
Of course, being that they share the same facility, the newly named UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, the Steelers’ staff had an intimate look at Vinopal over the years. And they’re always due to bringing in at least one or two local players, be it a large school like Pitt or smaller, surrounding colleges such as Duquesne.
Though the safety depth chart is relatively barren currently with Will Allen and Robert Golden set to be free agents – though, at least one is likely to be back – Vinopal will have to scratch and claw his way to get noticed. Reps at safety were tough to come by in training camp until injuries stuck and even when players like Ian Wild and Alden Darby shined, remember when some thought they would make the 53 man roster, they were quickly cut and faded from memory. Barring something unforseen, the odds are good Vinopal takes a similar path.