While the names of rookie tryouts have slowed down over the last few days, the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t finished bringing in a couple players for their minicamp next weekend. Add Northwestern punter Hunter Niswander to the list, who announced on Twitter earlier Friday afternoon he had received an invite from the team.
Blessed to say I have accepted a mini camp invite with the the Pittsburgh Steelers! Excited and ready to start this journey! #HereWeGo
•#Ao1 #TGBTG #B1GCats #SteelersNation pic.twitter.com/pCAoq5dfci
— Hunter Niswander (@HunterNiswander) May 4, 2018
Niswander, a three year starter for the Wildcats, averaged a career best 43 yards per punt as a senior. That’s a sharp improvement from what he did as a sophomore (38) or junior (41.3). Standing in at 6’5, 235 he placed 19 of his 67 punts last year inside the 20 yard line. Another 16 traveled at least 50 yards.
He was regarded as an excellent kicker/punter recruit out of high school, once booting a 53 yard field goal. He also played three years of soccer.
In addition to Jordan Berry, the Steelrs have Matt Wile on their 90 man roster, who has done kicks and punts throughout his career. Niswander’s odds aren’t great but you never know what can happen during a tryout. To my knowledge, however, it’s very rare for a specialist to get signed after a rookie minicamp tryout. Finding that kind of information is difficult but I know it hasn’t happened since at least 2011.
However, Pittsburgh has been more active in signing tryout players over the last few seasons. Last season they signed two and in 2016, they added four players. Of that group, two remain – WR Marcus Tucker and LB Matt Galambos. In recent history, Terence Garvin is the most well-known Steelers’ tryout player, beginning his career in 2013.
Alcorn State offensive linemen Timothy Gardner also appears to have a standing offer with the team. He also has invites from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons, whose camp is on the same weekend, so he’ll have to choose one of those teams, obviously.
Here is the list of rookie tryout players we know so far. We’re at 11 players.
Malik Boynton/CB Austin Peay
Tyler Palka/QB-WR-RB Gannon
Garrett Pougnet/LB Grand Valley State
Mike Minter/CB Middle Tennessee State
R.J. Prince/OT North Carolina
Brett Thompson/TE UT-Martin
Jeremy Taylor/LB-S North Carolina A&T
Dorian Brown/RB Ohio
Wendell Dunn/OLB Wake Forest
Damoun Patterson/WR Youngstown State
Hunter Niswander/P Northwestern