It’s been a long and winding road for Trent Steelman
The Kentucky native earned a free agent contract offer from the Baltimore Ravens shortly after a dominant career at West Point but was forced to walk away from the opportunity due to his commitment to the Army. But now, things are different. Now, Steelman is taking that opportunity head on and running with it.
While Steelman was one of the most prolific quarterbacks in West Point history, he’ll compete for a starting spot with the Ravens as a wide receiver, looking to join the competitive training camp fray. Here’s what you need to know about Steelman:
1. Steelman Was Released From Active Duty in December
Steelman graduated high school and wanted to keep playing football, desperately. So much so that he accepted the only Division I offer he received, from West Point, understanding that the decision would tie him to the military after his four years on the gridiron.
When he graduated in 2013, Steelman entered active duty immediately, serving two years at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. He stayed on base for two years before getting a call from the military in December telling him he was free to pursue his NFL-based dreams.
Steelman, who is now serving in reserve duty, participated in the NFL veteran combine in March and earned a tryout with the Baltimore Ravens just a few days into the team’s training camp schedule.
2. He Was One of the Top Players in West Point History
There’s certainly a good reason for Ravens fans to be excited for Steelman to join the Baltimore roster this season. He’s good. Really good. Record-making good
Over his four years at West Point, Steelman etched his name in the program’s record books as the team’s all-time leading rushing quarterback. He ran for 3,320 yards and 45 touchdowns at Army.
He also set a record with 46 games and 32 consecutive starts. Steelman set the single-season school record with 17 rushing touchdowns. Directly after his final season with Army, Steelman was invited to the East-West Shrine All-Star game.
3. Steelman Competed in the International Federation of American Football World Championship
Although he spent years playing quarterback, Steelman realized he was pretty good at catching the ball as well when he competed at the wide receiver position for Team USA during this year’s International Federation of American Football World Championship.
Steelman, already well versed in representing his country, helped lead Team USA to a lopsided championship in the gold medal game, defeating Japan 59-12. In that final game, Steelman was an offensive force, catching passes, making plays and leading all rushers with 56 yards on the ground and a touchdown. For good measure, the former West Point standout was also named the tournament’s MVP.
He told USA Football after the game:
We’re world champs. That’s what America does. We play football. We came in with the mentality that we’re going to teach the rest of the world that this is our game, and we did that for four games straight games.
Over the course of the four-game tournament, Steelman recorded 18 catches for 258 yards and two touchdowns as well as 66 rushing yards and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
4. The Ravens Had Been Interested in Signing Steelman For Years
Baltimore has been waiting for Steelman for a long time. Since 2013, in fact. Right after the 2013 draft, the Ravens called Steelman and offered him a free agent contract with the team.
He had to say no, explaining to ABC News:
Right after the 2013 NFL Draft, literally, as soon as the last pick was taken, I got a call from the Baltimore Ravens, who wanted to sign me as a free agent.That was probably the highest moment in my life. It was difficult. Knowing that my dream was right there at my fingertips, only to be taken away or slip away, was something that kept me up at night. It was hard.
Although Steelman’s football career was made possible by his time, and his dominance, at West Point, it also required him to walk away from the gridiron. Steelman was required to maintain his five-year commitment to the military and, at least for the time being, he had to walk away from the NFL.
5. He Grew Up in Bowling Green, Kentucky
Steelman grew up in Bowling Green, Kentucky where he first started playing football at just seven years old. When he was released from active duty, Steelman returned home to begin a rigorous training program before attempting to earn a second shot at the NFL.
Steelman spent the better part of three months working at home, trying to improve his skills at slot receiver and taking cues from New England Patriots standout Julian Edelman, who was a quarterback at Kent State before moving to wideout. He told Bowling Green Daily News:
I’m trying to do the same route that he took, going from quarterback in college and transitioning into that role. I think it fits my skill set very well.
Coincidentally, Steelman also worked out with the Patriots before signing with the Baltimore Ravens earlier this month.
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