Much has been made of the fact that Chris Wormley came out of the University of Michigan, a school where the Pittsburgh Steelers have found success in the front seven before—most notably LaMarr Woodley, regardless of how his career may have ended.
He is one of four Michigan Wolverines on the Steelers’ roster, along with Devin Bush, Zach Gentry, and Amara Darboh, all of whom figure to have a good chance of sticking around this year, even if on the practice squad in Darboh’s case. It’s probably the largest number of Wolverines they’ve had on the roster at one time.
I don’t know that they’ve ever had more Toledo Rockets at the same time, however, and that’s also significant to Wormley, who was born and raised in Toledo, playing his high school ball there, even if he left Ohio once stepping into the college system.
While the Steelers have only used one draft pick on the MAC school, they have three rockets in total who made the initial 53-man roster a year ago and who are likely to remain with the team in 2020. The draft pick is, of course, wide receiver Diontae Johnson, taken in the third round last year and coming off a promising rookie season.
Then there is a pair of young edge rushers in Olasunkanmi Adeniyi and Tuzar Skipper, the former coming out in 2018 and the latter in 2019. Skipper was only given a rookie minicamp invitation, but he won a roster spot there, and then proceeded to lead the NFL in sacks during the preseason. However, he was waived and ended up spending most of the year with the New York Giants before the Steelers got him back.
“Those are two young guys on the edge that are expected to make a big step”, Wormley said of the young outside linebackers, speaking to Anthony Bellino on the Michigan Sports Network. “I know Coach has a lot of expectations for those guys. It’s good to see those guys, coming out of Toledo and having that hometown connection, even if they’re not from Toledo, but they spent a good amount of time playing for the Rockets, and it’s always good to have those guys, and Diontae Johnson, who should have a huge second year with being a receiver and Ben coming back. Should be a good year for him as well”.
While Johnson is in a starting role, Adeniy and Skipper are entrenched behind T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree, but with Anthony Chickillo gone, one of them figures to be the primary number three rusher this season. The Steelers did use a late third-round pick on Alex Highsmith in the 2020 NFL Draft, but it’s not hard to convince a 3-4 head coach to carry five outside linebackers.
Neither of them have had many opportunities to contribute much. Adeniyi has played 71 defensive snaps in his career to date, with nine tackles, mostly on special teams, but he also has two forced fumbles. Skipper played 40 snaps while with the Giants, accumulating three tackles and splitting a sack, but he hasn’t taken the field in a Steelers uniform.