Jacksonville State defensive lineman Devaunte Sigler has battled more than just offensive lineman in his pursuit. The 6’3” 290lb player has had to overcome adversity throughout his collegiate career in order to get a shot at making an NFL roster. And in late April, he finally got his chance with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Sigler’s story begins like most prospect’s after he signed his letter of intent to play college ball in 2011. He would play in the SEC for the Auburn Tigers and looked to have a promising career. He tore it up in high school for B.C. Rain in Mobile, Alabama and was labeled by some as being “one of the state’s best football prospects.” Auburn had a number of defensive linemen on their squad his freshman year, and he saw limited time, though he did play in every game.
His troubles began the following season, and in March of 2013 he was released by the team. Though the reasons are unclear, the organization cited that his dismissal was due to a violation of team rules. Obviously, you can’t get more general than that, but certain reports indicated that Sigler was appearing in court for failing to pay apartment rent to the University. It’s not confirmed whether that has anything to do with his departure, however. And AL.com stated that Sigler said it was because of a misunderstanding with the coaches. Regardless, he would not play football in 2013. Sigler went back home to Alabama, with his future dream of playing in the NFL appearing dim..
Sigler had a 2 year old daughter at the time, and was worried about how he would be able to provide for her. He struggled to find work, and between he and his mother, money was extremely tight.
“Just my daughter was my drive,” Sigler said in an article on AL.com. “Being at home like that, I don’t think people realize how hard it is to not have a job and have a child at the same time. Six, seven months without a job, nothing, it just drove me. I’ve got to do better. It’s just all for my daughter.”
He would eventually find work as a hard laborer, and he would walk to work everyday. But still, he longed to lace up the cleats once again and play the sport he loved. That’s when he reached out to former Auburn teammate Chris Landrum. Landrum had recently switched to play at Jacksonville State and thought Sigler may have a shot at returning to college football. He had to work even harder to make up for lost college credits, but eventually he got the second chance he had been longing for.
Jacksonville State brought him in in 2014, and he contributed almost immediately for the Gamecocks. In his first season there, he recorded 9 tackles for loss and added 3.5 sacks, earning him Ohio Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year honors. His statistics dropped slightly his senior season after undergoing surgery on a torn labrum in the offseason, but he still remained relevant in the eyes of NFL scouts.
And now, Sigler finds himself participating in organized team activities for the Pittsburgh Steelers, facing another uphill battle yet again. But, as history shows, he appears to be prepared to take on a challenge that pales in comparison to what he went through in the summer of 2013. Whatever happens, it’s clear that his motivation comes from more than just a dream. It comes from his daughter.