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Merril Hoge Ready To Apply Scouting Chops To Steelers Way: ‘I Love It And I’m Passionate About It’

While it wasn’t the first that we’d learned of it, the Pittsburgh Steelers subtly made it official that two of their former players, fullback Merril Hoge and cornerback Ike Taylor, are in the team’s employ as members of the scouting staff.

Hoge has worked in the media for nearly three decades, and much of that has involved player evaluation, so that aspect of the job is nothing new to him. But he is ready for the new challenge of working with one goal in mind.

I’ve never really devoted all the energies to a team. It’s exciting. I’d like to do that. It actually makes it a little easier, quite honestly”, he said in a new episode of The Standard, an ongoing documentary series chronicling the Steelers through the team’s website.

“When you’re doing it for a wide scope, it’s much more difficult—you can’t know each team’s true intel and detail unless you experience it with them”, he added, “so it’s guesswork, where this is real specific. I love it and I’m passionate about it”.

A 10th-round draft pick in 1987, Hoge’s playing career spanned the late stages of Chuck Noll as head coach and the early days of Bill Cowher. He played seven years in Pittsburgh, recording 5,169 yards from scrimmage with 34 touchdowns. He was a ‘complete’ back, adept at running, blocking, and receiving, with over 2,000 career receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. And his playing career allowed to see firsthand what the Steelers are looking for.

“I have an understanding of the standard. Joe Greene walked in the locker room one of my first days as a Steeler”, he said. “Joe Greene’s the standard. Franco Harris, the standard. I know those guys, I’ve learned from those guys, just their mentality and how they go about preparing. I played for The Chief, Mr. [Art] Rooney, and been around Art [Rooney II] and Dan [Rooney]. The standard that exists there is consistent. I understand the person that you need along with the football player that you need that fits in with the organization”.

Both Hoge and Taylor are in the beginning phases of their professional scouting careers and acknowledge that they are as much learning as they are anything else. Their contributions will be valued, of course, but their hands-on experience gained now comes with the understanding that they’re operating with training wheels on.

It could lead to more than that in the future. The Steelers already have a couple of former Steelers players in the scouting department, indeed, staple contributors, in former tight end Mark Bruener and special-teams standout Chidi Iwuoma.

But Hoge does have the advantage of having worked on an evaluative level in the media for many years, as mentioned. He already knows how to study and evaluate tape for the purpose of judging with an eye toward the draft. The biggest challenge is learning how to apply that specifically to the Steelers.

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