With Bud Dupree now in Tennessee, it’s now all but a done deal that second-year outside linebacker Alex Highsmith will be entering the starting lineup on a full-time basis in 2021 for the Pittsburgh Steelers. A third-round compensatory draft pick last season, the small-school product amassed 427 snaps on defense in 16 games, starting the final five games of the season after Dupree suffered a torn ACL.
The young man from Charlotte showed a lot of promise while on the field, but it’s his makeup, I think, that is the greatest assurance we have that he is going to continue to grow and develop into a starting player in this game, a character instilled in him clearly from his family, like his father, Sam Highsmith, who recently shared a great little story.
Alex recently made an appearance the weekend before last to speak to Coastal Pop Warner football players, an experience that Sam shared on Instagram, recalling how it reminded him of the days, not so long ago, when is son was on the receiving end.
“This photo says a lot without words!”, he wrote on Instagram. “Proud papa watching his son give back to the kids, remembering when he was one of them! Great day last Saturday speaking to the Coastal Pop Warner football players! Sending them the message of hard work, resilience and perseverance!!”.
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Ultimately, it’s stuff like this that team sports is really about. It’s not about the business. It’s not about making money. At its best, team sports have the capacity to instill values in you to help turn you into a better person, with a stronger, and even more generous character.
When you combine the business end as well, it does help to give back, especially when you play the game at the highest level of the profession and are able to gain credibility through recognition. These kids know Alex Highsmith as the outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. That means something to them. That will leave an impact for some time on at least some of them.
It’s really cool to have the opportunity to see these things come full circle. Former Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey often spoke a lot about how important he felt it was for himself and his brother to host football camps back in their hometown area, recalling how impactful it was to have those same opportunities when they are growing up.
And the reality is, a lot—a lot of players do these types of things. But these aren’t the activities that ordinarily make headlines, and we all know why. But hopefully this one will prove to be the exception to the rule as something that we can relate to in some way.