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Matt Canada Has Already Coached 8 Players On Steelers’ Roster Entering First Year In NFL

Some have joked, with the Pittsburgh Steelers using two of their six draft choices over the weekend on players from the Maryland Terrapins, whether or not head coach Mike Tomlin’s son hacked his account. Dino Tomlin was a freshman at Maryland in 2019, and played with 2020 draft picks Anthony McFarland and Antoine Brooks.

The better question might be whether or not new quarterbacks coach Matt Canada has been steering the ship all this time. In spite of the fact that he has never coached in the NFL before, he comes to the team having already directly coached eight players on the current 90-man roster, a handful of whom have been acquired in the past two months.

Across four stops at Wisconsin, NC State, Pitt, and Maryland between 2012 and 2018, Canada has come into contact with a lot of the players who are already on the roster, some of them names of fair significance. The most notable player on that list is James Conner, when Canada was his offensive coordinator for one season in 2016.

Also on that same Pittsburgh offense in 2016 were fellow running back Darrin Hall and wide receiver Quadree Henderson, both of whom finished the 2019 season on the Steelers’ practice squad. Henderson was originally signed by the Steelers as an undrafted free agent.

Prior to his year in Pitt, he spent a few season at North Carolina State, where he served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, overlapping for two seasons with running back Jaylen Samuels. While there, he also worked with running backs coach Eddie Faulkner.

He also spent one season at Wisconsin in 2012 as the offensive coordinator, where he served in that capacity for Derek Watt during his freshman year. The fullback, now in his fifth season, was signed by the Steelers as an unrestricted free agent in March.

Last, but not least, Pittsburgh now has three Terrapins on the roster from the 2018 team. That year, he was brought in to serve as the offensive coordinator, but ended up acting as interim head coach after their previous head coach was relieved of his duties in the wake of the investigation into the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.

Two of McNair’s offensive line teammates were brought in last year in seventh-rounder Derwin Gray and undrafted free agent Damian Prince. Prince didn’t make it through, but Gray spent all year on the practice squad and remains on the team.

He is now joined by not just one, but two of his former teammates in McFarland, a running back, and Brooks, who is a safety. Brooks is the only defensive player mentioned because Maryland is the only stop during which he served as head coach. Canada is pictured above with Brooks.

While nominally signed only to be the quarterbacks coach, Tomlin has already hinted at the possibility of Canada having a greater-than-average input, particularly over the course of time. He has decades of experience as a playcaller at the college level, and can assist Randy Fichtner in constructing gameplans and schemes.

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