If you closed your eyes for too long you might’ve missed out how fast time flies. That goes for third-year linebacker Alex Highsmith. Highsmith was drafted in the third round in the 2020 draft. In 2020 many of the facilities were locked down due to COVID. Highsmith sat down to talk to Steelers Blitz after day one of OTAs.
Highsmith mentioned when he got drafted, he didn’t show up to Pittsburgh until July, which means he only had a few weeks to prepare for the season because preseason was even canceled that year.
“Like really a bunch of guys didn’t come till closer [to] minicamp because everything’s still going on with COVID. So it’s just been kind of cool to get back to normal, seeing a lot of people at practice, you know, meeting in the locker room and stuff like that.” Highsmith told SNR hosts Arthur Moats and Wes Uhler.
Highsmith noted in his interview that this offseason is the first time that it feels like an offseason. While Highsmith was drafted during COVID, a lot of the players drafted in 2020 or 2021 are experiencing their first real NFL offseason.
Highsmith is entering his third season as a Steeler, but has improved significantly each year. Last season, Highsmith played only 16 games and was able to double his sack total from six to eight. It shows that Highsmith has put in the work to do what he needs to do to help the team.
One of those changes is becoming a veteran in the locker room. The locker room is already filled with veterans like TJ Watt, Cam Heyward, and even Minkah Fitzpatrick, but Highsmith considers himself one of the vets.
“I feel like I’ve grown a lot and I just feel like I’m stepping into more of a leadership role this year, being a year three guy and having a year starting under my belt.” said Highsmith.
Having Highsmith being a veteran leader on and off the field is a huge boost for the Steelers. Last season when Watt was hurt with a groin injury, Highsmith played a good chunk of Watt’s snaps and was able to make a difference.
This past season Highsmith has proven over and over that he too can make a difference on and off the field. It’s soon to be seen how much of an improvement he has made.