Entering Week 15 of the 2022 season, three-year Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Alex Highsmith has already set career-best marks in sacks (10.0), forced fumbles (four) and quarterback hits (15).
He’s achieved the individual goals he set in the offseason ahead of his second full season as a starter, hitting double digit sacks against the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football, helping win that game in the process with the strip sack of quarterback Matt Ryan.
Though the Steelers season is all but over, a player like Highsmith still has much to play for entering Week 15 and beyond as he gets set to not only take on his childhood favorite team in the Carolina Panthers, but continue his push for his first career Pro Bowl berth.
Currently tied for ninth in the NFL in sacks with 10.0, Highsmith is in a great position to earn his first career Pro Bowl berth and has a shot at adding onto his career-best numbers with matchups against the Panthers, Las Vegas Raiders, Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns down the stretch.
Speaking with the Charlotte Observer’s Mike Kaye ahead of the Week 15 matchup with the Panthers as the hometown hero making his return to Charlotte, Highsmith stated that a Pro Bowl berth would be a dream come true for the former Charlotte 49ers walk-on.
“That would be a dream come true,” Highsmith said, according to original reporting from Kaye for the Charlotte Observer. “I used to watch the Pro Bowl all the time. … I would just love to meet so many guys that are great at what they do.”
Although fan voting ended Thursday, Highsmith can still make a push for a Pro Bowl berth through coaches and players with a strong close to season, starting Sunday against his childhood team in the Panthers. Entering Week 15, Highsmith is sixth in the AFC in sacks behind the likes of New England’s Matthew Judon, Cleveland’s Myles Garrett, Las Vegas’ Maxx Crosby, and Kansas City’s Chris Jones, and New York’s Quinine Williams.
Just two players from that group are technically in the same position group with him, so there’s a chance he could get a berth in the Pro Bowl and head to Las Vegas after the 2022 season to represent the Steelers.
It would be a dream come true for Highsmith and would be quite the story for the former walk-on at Charlotte where he eventually earned a scholarship, worked his way into an NFL caliber edge rusher leading to being a third-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, and has now turned into a solid defender overall in the NFL.
Four more weeks left in the season, four more chances for Highsmith to continue to do damage and pad his pass rushing stats before potentially earning a life-changing extension in the offseason.