As a young kid growing up in Pittsburgh, Colby Sorsdal idolized Pittsburgh Steelers All-Pro right guard David DeCastro, rocking his jersey every Game Day during football season, aiming to hopefully be just like him.
Now, Sorsdal is one step closer to being an NFL offensive lineman, just like DeCastro was.
Sorsdal — 6051, 301 pounds with 32 3/4-inch arms and 9 1/4-inch hands — was the second-highest graded offensive lineman in the FCS at William & Mary in 2022, according to Pro Football Focus. Now, at the 98th edition of the East-West Shrine Bowl in Las Vegas, the Pittsburgh product is aiming to reach the next level and achieve a lifelong dream of playing in the NFL — and hopefully in the all familiar black and gold.
Speaking with Steelers Depot from the players lounge inside The Velvet Room at the Luxor Hotel & Casino, Sorsdal spoke about his unique path that has him on the doorstep of the NFL.
A former standout tackle at Mount Lebanon High School playing in the vaunted Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League, Sorsdal turned down Division I FBS offers to places like UCF, Ball State, Akron and Bowling Green, instead signing with William & Mary — the alma mater of Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin — where he could, in his words, see the field right away, rather than having to sit behind older players at bigger programs.
Turns out, that was one of the best decisions he’s ever made.
“I had some good offers coming out of high school. I had some MAC schools, I had one from UCF,” Sorsdal said regarding his recruitment coming out of the Pittsburgh area. “William & Mary, obviously Coach Tomlin, [Bills head coach] Sean McDermott, they’re legends there. But when I went down there for a visit, they said I could make an impact right away, and that’s what I wanted to do.
“I wanted to play right away, and that’s the opportunity that presented itself at William & Mary.”
In five seasons at William & Mary, Sorsdal recorded 46 career starts, was a Consensus FCS All-American in 2022, and was twice a Colonial Athletic Association All-Conference honoree. In 2018, Sorsdal became just the second true freshman in program history to start on the offensive line dating back to 1983.
In the last decade or so, the importance of having an athletic, physical right tackle that can dominant in the run game has skyrocketed, especially as defenses have gotten better and better at searching for advantageous matchups in obvious pass rush situations.
Sorsdal, who is training at the Sports Academy in Frisco, TX with offensive line gurus Duke Manyweather, Brandon Thorn and former NFL offensive linemen Geoff and Mitchell Schwartz, is entering the NFL at the right time.
Ironically, one of Manyweather’s premiere clients in Philadelphia Eagles’ right tackle Lane Johnson is the tackle in the NFL that Sorsdal models his game after, putting a ton of work into studying the Eagles’ All-Pro.
“I love watching Lane Johnson; he probably is the best right tackle in the NFL,” Sorsdal said. “Our techniques are a little bit different, but overall I really like watching Johnson. He’s special.”
Johnson has a unique path to stardom at right tackle that Sorsdal can’t quite replicate, but the play styles are similar overall. Though he profiles as an athletic right tackle that can thrive in a power rushing scheme at the next level, the William & Mary product is willing to go wherever, play in whatever system and line up anywhere on the offensive line, as long as it means he gets a shot to do what a number of Pittsburgh natives have been able to do over the years.
“I will play in whatever is asked of me, whether that’s tackle, guard, center. I just want to be on the field, ” Sorsdal said. “I’ve never played guard in college, but I’ve had some practices reps there. Offensive linemen pride themselves on the best five unit, so getting the best five out on the field regardless of position is important.
“I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”
The Pittsburgh native will compete for the next week on the West team at the East-West Shrine Bowl under the guidance of the New England Patriots’ coaching staff. Though Bill Belichick and the Patriots had a hand in ruining many of Sordsal’s years as a Steeler fan growing up, getting a chance to learn from some of the greatest coaching minds in football has Sorsdal excited to simply compete and continue to grow as a player, hopefully leading to a shot in the NFL.