Steelers Sign Former DII Defensive Back After Eagles Don’t Make Offer: Report

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On Sunday May 15, Mike Uva, director of digital content at Gamecock Central, broke the news that former South Carolina Gamecocks defensive back Carlins Platel has inked a contract with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“It’s surreal,” Platel told Uva, moments after signing his first NFL contract. “It’s a dream come true. I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little kid but it’s gotta be short lived because I gotta keep working to make that 53 (man roster).”

Indeed, earning a spot on the 90-man roster is only the first step towards his ultimate goal, but Platel — who is listed at 6-foot-1 and 205 pounds on the South Carolina Gamecocks 2021 football roster — is accustomed to beating the odds.

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Carlins Platel Played 3 Years of D2 Football

“His path to the NFL was the one less traveled,” explains Uva, noting that Platel’s collegiate football career began at Division II Assumption University in Worcester, Mass., where he earned All-NE10 Conference First-Team honors.

In three seasons at Assumption (2017-19), Platel recorded 96 tackles, seven interceptions and 30 passes defensed, good enough for him to get nominated for the 2019 Cliff Harris Award, which honors the Nation’s top Small College Defensive Player of the Year. Then he had to sit out the entire 2020 season as Assumption did not compete because of the pandemic.

With one year of eligibility left, Platel transferred to South Carolina, choosing the Gamecocks over Mississippi State, Coastal Carolina, South Alabama and Old Dominion.

Partway through his only season with the Gamecocks he cracked the starting lineup and started seven games at slot cornerback. He finished the 2021 campaign with 21 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack, two passes defensed and two forced fumbles. That led to a rookie minicamp tryout with the Philadelphia Eagles, where he was apparently noticed by a Steelers scout.

Platel: ‘I Did Really Well’ at Eagles Rookie Minicamp

“It was only a two day (minicamp) but I did really well over there and was making plays,” Platel told Uva. “They didn’t offer me a contract but thankfully a Steelers personnel (sic) was in attendance and he called me the next day and invited me to the Steelers minicamp.”

And that’s how he how ended up with the Steelers, who are still in the market for a long-term solution at slot cornerback, now that Mike Hilton plays for Cincinnati, having signed a four-year contract with the Bengals in March 2021.

Platel doesn’t sound intimidated about the prospect of joining a group of cornerbacks that includes free agent acquisition Levi Wallace, as well as Ahkello Witherspoon, Cameron Sutton, Arthur Maulet, Justin Layne and James Pierre, not to mention fellow rookie undrafted free agents Chris Steele (USC) and “UDFA to Watch” Bryce Watts, who finished his college career at UMass.

“Coming out of high school, I’ve always been overlooked. But I always had in my mind that I knew I wanted to go to the NFL and I knew I could do it,” Platel told Uva, who, according to his Twitter bio, also played defensive back at Assumption College.

The Steelers have yet to announce the Carlins Platel signing, but when they do, expect a corresponding roster move, as the team went into minicamp with a full 90-man roster.

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