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Isaiahh Loudermilk ‘Couldn’t Ask For A Better Mentor’ Than Cameron Heyward

“He reminds me a little bit of a young Cam Heyward.”

That’s what Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive coordinator Keith Butler said about rookie fifth-round draft pick Isaiahh Loudermilk when the Steelers traded back in to the fifth round to select the Wisconsin product.

Though that sounded a bit ridiculous, considering Loudermilk’s tape coming out of school and Heyward’s status coming out of Ohio State, the rookie defensive lineman showed flashes of just that after being pressed into action as a rookie much earlier than the Steelers could have ever anticipated.

Following injuries to Stephon Tuitt, Tyson Alualu and Carlos Davis, and inconsistent play by Henry Mondeaux, Loudermilk got his shot and never looked back, showing he could at the very least be a sound run defender, finishing his rookie season with a 48.6 grade from Pro Football Focus in just 150 snaps.

“Coming in, I wasn’t sure really what to expect,” Loudermilk said to reporters Thursday, according to video via Steelers.com. “I knew if I were to get some playing time, it wouldn’t be a whole lot. And then everything kind of happened, injuries and stuff like that. So, I kind of got thrown out there. But I was prepared for pretty much anything, but I wouldn’t say I was really expecting to get as much as I did. But I mean kind of glad I did, I feel like I grew a lot as a player, actually being able to go out there and play.”

While there is still plenty of room for growth and development from Loudermilk, he — at the very least — projects as a rotational defensive tackle moving forward, which is a win for the Steelers, should that remain his projection.

Fresh off of a whirlwind rookie season, Loudermilk spoke with reporters Thursday, and per usual, the conversation with Loudermilk often invoked Heyward’s name. Loudermilk, who even looks a bit like Heyward, stated Thursday that he couldn’t have asked for a better mentor as a rookie than the Steelers’ star All-Pro defensive tackle and team captain.

“I mean, he pretty much showed me anything he could. Anytime we were doing drills, we would work together,” Loudermilk said of Heyward, according to video via Steelers.com. “He would give me, you know, little pointers, hand placement and stuff like that. So, just being able to come in and kind of have a mentor like that helped me a ton. I think that’s one of the big reasons why I felt like I made a pretty big jump from the beginning of the year to the end of the year. Just kind of weeks on weeks of just taking little things from him. Just pretty much watching how he does things and just kind of feeding off of him. But, I mean, I couldn’t ask for a better mentor than Cam.”

Throughout training camp Loudermilk could be seen working with Heyward on the side at Heinz Field, so it’s great to hear that the relationship and development continued throughout the season. The veteran defensive tackle was always quick to publicly praise the rookie, stating before the first matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 16 that, “I like what I’ve seen so far. But there’s more to be done. What I’ve liked is great, but what I’m expecting is even better.”

While it’s great having a guy of Heyward’s stature in his corner, Loudermilk also pointed out that the team captain wasn’t the only one providing some mentorship to him as he had to learn on the fly. Some of that mentorship came from defensive end Stephon Tuitt and defensive tackle Tyson Alualu, both of whom missed significant time this season.

“I mean, just having those guys around. Having Tuitt around towards the beginning of the season just kind of giving me tips on what he sees, things like that. Tyson, you know, being on the sideline with us, helped a ton just because those guys have played a lot of ball,” Loudermilk added. “They’ve seen a lot of things and they kind of know more about the flow of the game, things they’re seeing that I do. So, kind of getting some little tips from them on the side definitely helps. So, I mean, even though they weren’t out there with us playing, they definitely still made an impact.”

Now, with a full season under his belt, and hopefully the return of Alualu and Tuitt to the lineup, Loudermilk will be able to see up close and personal just what it takes to be great from the trio of veterans in the trenches. That will only do good things for his continued development in the NFL.

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