The Pittsburgh Steelers had five players who were rookie or first-year late-round draft picks or undrafted free agents who made the 53-man roster this year, including first-year college free agents Christian Kuntz and Jamir Jones. They also has three late-round rookie draft picks, Isaiahh Loudermilk, Tre Norwood, and Pressley Harvin III, make the team, with only sixth-rounder Quincy Roche failing to make the cut.
All of them have expressed significant humility in what it has meant to them to make the team, including Harvin, who, as a specialist, is actually somewhat distinguished for having been traded at all. Perhaps that is due in part to the fact that he had stiff competition for his job, but it’s also simply a product of his background.
“The biggest thing for me was, I was drafted and all, but that’s just a draft”, he told reporters yesterday. “That’s just the fact that the front office and the coaches believed in me enough to bring me here, but I still have to put the work on the table when I get here”.
“That’s just the way I came in. I came in and tried to fly under the radar”, he went on. Of course, it’s hard to do that when you’re rare at your position in multiple ways, as a drafted, African-American, 255-pound specialist. “Learn from guys, don’t come in with a big head or anything like that, come in humble. And I’m still humble. That’s gonna be me. That’s just who I am. That’s how I was raised by my family”.
Harvin is the first punter that the Steelers have drafted since investing a fourth-round pick in Daniel Sepulveda in 2007. Their incumbent this year, Jordan Berry, has been the closest thing that they have had to stability at the position since Sepulveda had his career ended by a series of knee injuries.
What followed was a carousel of names from Jeremy Kapinos and Mat McBriar to Zoltan Mesko, Drew Butler, and Brad Wing. They’re hoping that Harvin can develop into their first true long-term answer since Josh Miller, who kicked for the team for eight years up until 2003.
“You come into work and you just continue to get your feet up under you and you learn, you catch on pretty quickly”, Harvin described his philosophy. “Like Coach Tomlin says all the time, it’s a moving train. You don’t want to get left behind, so just continue to come into work every day. Every single day is an interview for me. I am a rookie, but that doesn’t really mean anything, because if you put your work out there, this could be a 10-year career, all I care”.
It can be argued that Harvin won the job without having even been the better performer. Berry’s numbers were more consistent, and thus resulted in better statistics in the long run, but if Harvin can hone in on his fundamentals and improve his consistency, he clearly has the tools to be a high-level punter.