The Pittsburgh Steelers have reportedly made their first addition to their coaching staff this offseason, bringing in former Seattle Seahawks’ linebacker-turned-coach Aaron Curry to be the team’s outside linebackers coach. The team’s yet to make it official but Curry’s updated his bio with the news so it seems a done deal.
While Curry has no obvious ties to Mike Tomlin or the Steelers’ coaching staff, he has ties to two of the players on its roster: DL Larry Ogunjobi and EDGE Alex Highsmith.
Before Curry coached in the NFL, he spent five years in college. From 2014 to 2018, he worked at the University of Charlotte and there he coached Ogunjobi and Highsmith. In 2014, Curry was tabbed a graduate assistant but from 2015 to 2018, he served as the team’s d-line coach.
Ogunjobi’s college career spanned from 2012-2016, part of the program’s transition from FCS to FBS beginning in 2015. Under Curry, Ogunjobi turned into one of Conference USA’s best defensive players and left the school holding several school records. Most tackles, most tackles for loss, most sacks (Charlotte didn’t start playing football until 2013 so there wasn’t exactly much competition but he remains fourth in tackles and third in sacks). Ogunjobi dominated the Senior Bowl, went to the NFL Combine, and turned himself into a Top 75 pick of the 2017 NFL Draft.
He signed with the Steelers for the 2022 season and had an up-and-down year. A pending free agent, it’s unclear if he’ll re-sign with the team. Curry wouldn’t be his coach in Pittsburgh, Karl Dunbar has those duties, but it can’t hurt that Curry is on staff, the coach who helped build Ogunjobi’s college and NFL career.
In fact, in this 2017 profile of Ogunjobi, he praised Curry for how hard he pushed him in college.
“He’s like my big brother,” Ogunjobi told Tom Reed. “AC always was pushing me, never letting me get satisfied.”
For the second time in his young coaching career, Curry will be working closely with Alex Highsmith. While Highsmith is an EDGE rusher in Pittsburgh, for most of his Charlotte career, he was used as a base defensive end. It wasn’t an ideal fit, Highsmith was sort of miscast, but it wasn’t until 2019 that the team transitioned him from DE to a true EDGE rusher type of role. For those first several seasons, he worked with Curry, again, the team’s d-line coach, and Highsmith still found success despite being a bit out of place.
But he’s found his true home rushing wide off the edge, breaking out in 2022 with 14.5 sacks with a potential payday to follow this summer. Curry’s back with him, presumably working closest with the team’s EDGE rushers this season and something I’m bet Highsmith is excited about.
It appears Pittsburgh wants to have more specified coaching at that position. Since Joey Porter was fired, the team’s EDGE rushers have primarily worked with Dunbar and assistant Denzel Martin and the rest of the defensive linemen. Now, Curry will be dedicated to those guys. Watt and Highsmith won’t need a lot of help but Curry will need to develop depth that’s been missing since the team traded away Melvin Ingram mid-way through 2021.