According the Field Yates of ESPN, the Pittsburgh Steelers have come to an agreement with rookie third-round draft choice Alex Highsmith.
Rookie contracts are rolling in fast with reporting dates coming up. A trio of third-rounders that have agreed to terms on their deal, per source: Packers TE Josiah Deguara, Cardinals OT Josh Jones and Steelers LB Alex Highsmith.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) July 21, 2020
Highsmith becomes the first member of the Steelers’ six-man draft class to agree to a deal—in his case, a four-year contract.
Meanwhile, it appears that the fledgling outside linebacker has already been getting settled into his new home in Pittsburgh.
— Sam Highsmith (@UNCNinerSteeler) July 16, 2020
Alex Highsmith’s College Career at Charlotte
Highsmith was drafted out of the University of Charlotte—the 102nd player selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.
He joined the 49ers as a walk-on in 2015, and went on to become the first 49er to be named first-team all-Conference USA twice, doing so in 2018 and 2019. In his final collegiate season he ranked fourth in the nation in sacks with 14, and fifth in tackles for loss with 21. He owns Charlotte school records for sacks in a game, season and career, as well as records for tackles for loss in a game and season. He was named to the 2020 NFL all-Combine Team as an edge rusher.
‘Steelers Rookie University’
And like all of the other Pittsburgh Steelers rookies, Highsmith has already participated in ‘Steelers Rookie University,’ which is designed to help everyone make the transition from college to the NFL. According to Teresa Varley of Steelers.com, this year’s program was entirely virtual, with a series of Zoom meetings on topics ranging from money management to insurance to relationships.
“It was so valuable,” Alex Highsmith told Varley. “Not only was it valuable for me, but we learned a lot about each other. They taught us a lot of things that are going to help us be successful, help us with our careers. They are looking out for what is best for us.”
In particular, Highsmith appreciated what he learned about financial matters.
“Some of the financial things, I didn’t know much about it,” he said. “Now learning stuff about it, it’s eye opening for me. The taxes and stuff like that. I am glad I am learning about this stuff right now. It’s going to help me take care of my money that first year and every year I am in the league. I am thankful and I am looking forward to learning more and more.”
Acording to Varley, head coach Mike Tomlin got things kicked off on an introductory Zoom call, telling the rookies:
“The whole rookie university, this developmental program, is constructed specifically to help you guys in transition. And not transition to the National Football League. Yes, we are helping you transition with that. But this program is catered specifically toward you guys getting acclimated to what it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler—what it means to be a professional football player. The opportunities and responsibilities associated with it. This is something we not only take very seriously, but we take a great deal of pride in.”
Separately, Tomlin also related his challenge to this year’s rookies, telling them that he expects them to rise about the added obstacles that the current environment presents.
“There are a lot of reasons for an NFL rookie in 2020 to fail. I am looking for guys who are looking to excel despite this,” said Tomlin.
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