"Me?" he asked with a look that said, "Why would a reporter want to talk to the Steelers' last-string linebacker?"

But Augustin, the middle backer from Florida State, did indeed have a story to tell.">
"Me?" he asked with a look that said, "Why would a reporter want to talk to the Steelers' last-string linebacker?"

But Augustin, the middle backer from Florida State, did indeed have a story to tell.">

Snapshot: Allen Augustin

Allen Augustin thought there must have been another "Hey, Allen" on the team, so he kept walking. But after he heard it again - "Hey, you, Allen Augustin" - he had to stop and turn around.<br><br> "Me?" he asked with a look that said, "Why would a reporter want to talk to the Steelers' last-string linebacker?"<br><br> But Augustin, the middle backer from Florida State, did indeed have a story to tell.

Augustin (6-0, 225) was a walk-on at Florida State after serving as captain and winning the MVP award as a defensive end for Miami Senior High School. He didn't receive a single scholarship offer so he chose Florida State because of its academics.

Academics?

"Well," Augustin said, "they had a good football program, too, so it worked out well."

Andre Wadsworth went from FSU walk-on to the NFL. So did Shevin Smith. FSU takes pride in its walk-on program, and Augustin added to the legacy when he moved into the starting lineup midway through his redshirt junior season.

He remained the team's middle linebacker as a senior. He not only finished second on the team in solo tackles (52), total tackles (82) and sacks (4), he earned a master's degree in Integrated Marketing and Management Communications during the course of the season. How did the managers at the FSU football factory react to this pursuit of higher education?

"You had to get it done on your own, whenever you could," Augustin said. "Grad school was real tough. I had a bunch of sleepless nights trying to get the work done and go to practice and all that."

Augustin's most difficult stretch, of course, occurred near the end of the term. He was the hero of the ACC-clinching win over North Carolina State on Nov. 15. He broke up a Philip Rivers pass on fourth-and-one in double overtime and the FSU offense scored on its possession to win, 50-44.

Augustin then had to simultaneously prepare for finals week and the regular-season finale against Florida.

He ended up winning both. FSU beat Florida, 38-34, and Augustin passed his finals and received a 90 on his 20-page term paper that was handed in two days after the game.

"I had honors in both you might say."

Augustin wasn't drafted by the Steelers. As an undrafted free agent, he's starting the walk-on process all over again.

But this time he has a master's degree. His chances of becoming the team's PR director are better than becoming an inside linebacker, so why continue the torture?

"You pay me to play football, I'll do it all day," he said. "I just love to play. I want to see if I have what it takes to make it in the NFL, special teams, whatever I can do to help. If I can help I'll do it."

Early in spring workouts, though, Augustin's head was spinning.

"Oh, man," he said at the time, "I'm taking a long time to get it down. It's tough because I came from a 4-3 to a 3-4. It's a totally different world, speaking a whole different language now."

Is learning this new language more difficult than, say, staying up all night worrying about a term paper the night before the big game against Florida?

"Which is more difficult?" repeated Augustin. "Here. Right here, right now. I'm at a loss right here, right now."

But by the end of camp, Augustin learned the defense well enough to play first team throughout the final few practices.

"Yeah, but just by a technicality," he said of injuries to Clint Kriewaldt. "I was happy to get the reps, get acquainted with a little bit more playing time, but it's no big deal."

It has been, however, a path that smart, overachieving middle linebackers have taken to play in the NFL. Augustin isn't particularly big or particularly fast, but he's smart and has a passion for the game. Some have made it with less.

Jim Wexell is a Columnist of Steel City Sports


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