The Pittsburgh Steelers used draft resources on Pressley Harvin III because they believed he was capable of handling the punting and holding jobs. What the fans want to see is him throwing passes. On gadget plays, that is, something that he does have on his college tape. But he’s not sure if he’ll get such an opportunity in the NFL.
“I don’t know if [special teams coordinator Danny] Smith wants to, but I would love to again”, the rookie punter told reporters after practice today when he was asked if he would be throwing any passes this year. “That was a big thing for me in college, just trying to be versatile and bringing more things to the table besides just punting and holding. That’s something that, if it’s called, I would love to do it. Definitely love to do it”.
Harvin spent four years at Georgia Tech and ultimately attempted three passes during that time. He completed one of them in 2019, which went for a 41-yard touchdown. More germane to his duties, he averaged 44.7 yards per punt, including 48 yards during his senior season.
The Steelers and Smith are not wholly unreceptive to gadget plays on special teams. Kicker Chris Boswell actually threw a touchdown pass to tackle Alejandro Villanueva in 2018. Robert Golden completed passes of 25 and 44 yards for the team in 2014 and 2017, respectively. Even Mat McBriar completed a 30-yard pass to David Paulson in 2013 (and drew a roughing penalty to boot).
Generally, if you have a player throwing gadget passes, you would at least hope that he has a background as a quarterback at some level. Harvin does not, he admitted, though he did say that he threw shotput on the track and field team in high school, and throwing during practice has been commonplace for him.
“Just throwing footballs in practice when I was back in college with different quarterbacks throughout my time at Tech, that’s really what I did, just in the middle of practice I’m in the net with them just trying to throw”, he said.
Of course, he needs to settle into his new job, first, because he worries about throwing any passes. And to be clear, the only reason he was discussing the topic is that a reporter directly asked him a question about throwing passes. He wasn’t just coming out and campaigning for the opportunity. But I’m sure Smith will be asked about it the next time he’s in front of reporters.