Craig Steltz was considered Louisiana's top safety prospect. But instead of choosing another school, the former Rummel Raider decided to join his older brother, Kevin, at LSU.
Kevin Steltz earned a spot on the team as a walk-on in 2002, but has become a starter for the Tigers at fullback. Despite the issue of a sibling rivalry, Craig said he and his brother have put all of it in the past.
"When we first started growing up, it was like most brothers, you always fight," Craig said. "There are several things at home and you're always fighting on everything."
But Craig said as they have grown older and matured, the fighting has decreased and the two brothers enjoy being each other. "Now, he's my best friend. The opportunity to play college football with him," Craig said, "it's an unbelievable experience."
Craig Steltz came on to the team last year planning to red shirt his freshman season. However, one unexpected injury changed those plans and cost Steltz his red shirt. "I was backup on special teams, and the guy in front of me, Dorsett Buckels, got hurt in Florida, and [Saban] put me in," Steltz said.
Steltz played only four games, including the Capitol One Bowl against Iowa, in the 2004 season and collected only one tackle coming against Arkansas
Despite being forced to lose one season of eligibility, Steltz said he was fine with the decision to play in limited action because of others who were forced to make the same sacrifice.
His situation is similar to former Tiger defensive back Travis Daniels, who also had to forgo his freshman red shirt after an injury to Randal Gay forced Daniels to play cornerback in the 2001 SEC Championship game.
But in 2005, Steltz is quickly making up for lost time. After spring practice, he was listed on the depth charts as the backup behind strong safety Jesse Daniels. In the Tigers' opening game against Arizona State, he came up with two solo tackles, one fumble recovery, and one huge play to give LSU their first lead of the game.
With the Sun Devils in an awkward punt formation, Jacob Hester was able to break through the line and tackle the punter while Steltz, who runs the 40 in 4.45, picked up the dropped ball and ran it in for a 29 yard touchdown.
"It was a surprise [Arizona State punter Chris McDonald] just took off running," Steltz said. "We didn't know if he was going to fake it or punt it."
But Steltz said the Tiger special teams were able to maintain their composure and stay with the play.
"Jacob Hester made a great hit on the punter, and I was in the right place at the right time when the ball popped up," he said.
Steltz said Head Coach Les Miles prepared the team for a variety of plays. The special teams practiced a different formation called "Devil" when Arizona State lined up in their awkward punt formation, but Steltz insisted no one knew they were going to roll out with the ball.
"We had never seen them fake it, so it was a real surprise," Steltz said. "I was just happy to be rolling to left side of it and it took one bounce. I didn't even see it coming."
Steltz's touchdown was the second one scored by special teams that game. The drive before Steltz's return, Claude Wroten blocked a field goal attempt and Mario Stevenson returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.
Although these types of plays cannot be predicted before the game, Steltz said the special teams players wanted to contribute to the team.
"We wanted to make a difference on special teams, and that's what we did," he said.
After scoring the second of what would be four touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Craig said he received a warm reception on the sideline from his brother.
"[Kevin] gave me a big hug and told me he had been here for five years and never scored once," Craig said, "and I've been here for little over a year."
But like any caring brother, Craig said he wants to see his older brother score before the senior's career is over.
"I'm going to tell [Jimbo Fisher] when they get down to the one yard line, they're going to have to give [Kevin] a carry," Craig said.
It's that type of selflessness that demonstrates the relationship between the two siblings. After all, isn't that what family is for?
Steltz brothers experiencing no rivalry
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