Last Wednesday Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert attended the University of Georgia’s Pro Day. Like Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot, they were in Athens to see 2021 draft prospects like cornerbacks Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, Mark Webb and D.J. Daniel, not to mention center Trey Hill, guard Ben Cleveland and edge rushers Azeez Ojulari and Malik Herring.
But also participating in the workout was former UGA wide receiver Tyler Simmons—6-0, 201 pounds—who went undrafted last year after Georgia’s 2020 Pro Day was cancelled because of the pandemic. He did sign with the Houston Texans as an UDFA and spent two weeks on Houston’s practice squad last season, but fell off the NFL’s radar screen after that. Yet he apparently caught the eye of Colbert at the workout, and on Monday the Steelers announced that they have signed him to a one-year contract.
In a tweet from last Friday, Simmons’ agent revealed how his client was (re)discovered, and closed with an inspirational message:
Many players from the 2020 draft class didn’t get a fair shake with no offseason, preseason, etc. A second chance in Pittsburgh for WR Tyler Simmons, who was briefly on the #Texans practice squad last season. https://t.co/Oa9kLZ1Apg
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 19, 2021
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About Tyler Simmons
The Powder Springs, Ga. native appeared in 48 games during his four-year career (2016-19) at the University of Georgia, where he caught a total of 35 passes for 438 yards and three touchdowns. He also had 17 carries for 220 yards and two rushing touchdowns.
In his senior year, Simmons was the co-winner of the Kevin Butler Special Teams MVP award, and in 2018 he was one of three winners of the team’s Charley Trippi Award, which is given to the most versatile player. In the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 2020—a 26-14 Bulldogs win over the Baylor Bears—Simmons caught four passes for 47 yards and rushed the ball three times for 22 yards. He was part of a senior class that won 44 games, tied for the most in school history.
Simmons attended McEachern High School in Power Springs, a suburb northwest of Atlanta. Following are highlights from his career at UGA:
One other former Bulldogs player, David Marshall, also worked out at last Wednesday’s Pro Day. Marshall played defensive end at UGA between 2016-19 but went undrafted and unsigned last year. He suffered a Lisfranc injury during his junior year that caused him to miss much of the 2018 season.
The Steelers’ Next Beloved Underdog?
To be sure, not much will be expected from Simmons, thanks to his relative lack of pedigree. But you never know. No one expected much from UDFA QB Devlin ‘Duck’ Hodges (Samford University) when Pittsburgh signed him to its 90-man roster for $1,000 after a tryout.
But he went on to start eight games (5-3) for the Steelers as a rookie in 2019, prompting a brief but thoroughly enjoyable period of ‘Duck Mania’ in Pittsburgh in the fall of that year. More notably, Hodges has outlasted many of the quarterbacks who were drafted in 2019. Hodges spent the 2020 season on Pittsburgh’s practice squad and in January signed a one-year futures contract with the Los Angeles Rams.
Meanwhile, in other Steelers news from Monday, the team also announced that it has signed defensive lineman Chris Wormley to a two-year contract, a deal that was first reported at the end of last week.
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