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New Faces 2020: FB Spencer Nigh

There isn’t much else to do while we sit here and wait for news about whether or not there will even be training camp, so it seems as good a time as any to bring back this series, in which we look to introduce some of the new players that the Pittsburgh Steelers have added to the mix since the end of the 2019 season.

The team added some notable pieces in free agency, which was important, because they didn’t have much to work with in terms of draft capital due to previous trades. They also made liberal use of the XFL’s closure, signing about as many players from there as the rest of the league combined. Even while claiming that they didn’t have a lot of roster room, they still signed a good number of rookie college free agents as well, enough that they had to release three players just to make room for them.

He may not even still be here by the time this publishes, but Spencer Nigh was among the 10 players that the Steelers signed as rookie free agents in April following the 2020 NFL Draft. Listed as a fullback out of Auburn, standing at 6’0” and weighing a listed 267 pounds, he is one hefty boy. Derek Watt, standing at 6’2”, is only 234 pounds in comparison.

But, needless to say, the Steelers didn’t sign Derek Watt to a three-year contract worth nearly $10 million only to cut him. He is going to be their starting fullback in addition to being a standpoint, 300-snap player on special teams.

Where does that leave a player like Nigh? Well, the option is available to him to pull a reserve-Nix. That is a reference to former Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix, who was originally signed as a linebacker but was converted to fullback during the Summer to give him a better chance of making the roster, which he did.

If Nigh can work his way into the group at linebacker, he stands a better chance of making headway. The only players of note behind their starters on the inside are Ulysees Gilbert III and Robert Spillane, both of whom are second-year players who have no defensive snaps played in their careers. Spillane spent half the season on the practice squad before Gilbert’s mid-season injury resulted in his being called up.

Of course, anybody in Nigh’s position would be looking to earn his way onto the 53-man roster via his special teams contributions. That will be made exceedingly difficult, if not next to impossible, during a year in which there is no preseason.

NFL teams began trimming their rosters from 90 players to 80 yesterday, and likely many teams will follow. Having written this late last night, it’s likely that a few more teams have done so by the time this publishes—perhaps even the Steelers, and perhaps Nigh’s name is on the waiver list. It certainly wouldn’t be surprising.

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