It’s a safe bet Mike Tomlin has spoken with Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah at least a little bit during this pre-draft process. And you can all but guarantee they were talking about life in Virginia.
As if you needed another reason to think Tomlin and the team would strongly consider Owusu-Koramoah should he make it to pick #24, JOK hails from Hampton, Virginia. If that sounds familiar, it should. That is 757 area code territory, the same town Mike Tomlin was born in. Tomlin attended high school in Newport News, just 14 minutes away. Owusu-Koramoah attended a different high school, Bethel High, but it’s all in the same region.
Tomlin’s history of bringing in 757 players runs deep. He’s basically signed any of those guys he could get his hands on. Here’s a list of them:
S Shamarko Thomas
OLB Arthur Moats
DB B.W. Webb
QB Tajh Boyd
(and as one Twitter user reminded me, Mike Vick was also from the area)
It’s not a coincidence, either. Way back in 2015, Tomlin admitted he likes having those dudes on the roster.
“I don’t hide from it,” Tomlin said, when asked about his affinity for having players from his hometown.
Of course, having the same area code in your phone number isn’t reason enough alone to draft a player, though there’s probably a connection formed there that really matters when turning in the card. And when it comes to the draft, we’re all about dot-connecting. And he with JOK is connecting a lot of dots.
There’s a half-dozen other reasons why he makes sense. His athleticism, his versatility, his age (just 21, despite being a senior) and the position of need after the team released Vince Williams are some of them. Those were all the reasons why Owusu-Koramoah was my first round pick in my most recent mock draft. And if a guy like running back Najee Harris is off the board at #24, and maybe even if he’s still on it, JOK could be the Steelers’ pick.
I’m just saying: If Pittsburgh is where Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah ends up, remember where he came from.