That's the case with former University of Pittsburgh and Blackhawk High School long-snapper Mark Estermyer, who was among a baker's dozen rookie free agents signed by the Steelers after the NFL Draft this past weekend.
Estermyer's opportunity came about because Greg Warren, the Steelers' long-snapper the past few years, suffered a serious knee injury late last season. And his replacement, Jared Retkofsky, had a motorcycle accident recently that injured his snapping elbow. Also, the Steelers' special teams coach is Bob Ligashesky, and he recruited Estermyer to Pitt in 2004.
"I know those guys are on the roster,'' Estermyer said. "And I really don't know how they're doing (physically),'' Estermyer said. "I'm just thankful for the opportunity. I'm going to get the chance to show what I can do, and I can't wait to get started at mini-camp later this week.
"Basically, the Steelers were the frontrunner the entire time. Coach Lig called me at about 12:30 (Sunday afternoon) and said that they were real interested in signing me. About 5 p.m., he called back and said they wanted to work out a deal with my agent. I turned in all the paperwork, and I'm ready to go.
"My family and friends are bouncing off the walls,'' Estermyer said. "Everybody is excited. The Steelers are my hometown team, so it's always been a dream for me to play for them. To be the starting long-snapper at Pitt and now, to get a shot with the Steelers, I can't ask for anything more.''
Since he obviously lives in the area and knows the way to the Steelers' practice facility, which it shares with Pitt, Estermyer will visit before the club's mandatory mini-camp. The entire roster, including the new rookies and free agents, are supposed to report Thursday for meetings.
The Steelers will hold two mini-camp practices each Friday and Saturday and one Sunday before returning to offseason workouts this spring.
"I really haven't talked to them about any specifics, but I'll check things out before mini-camp,'' Estermyer said. "I'm just thrilled to get a chance, and whether I'm going to be competing with Greg or whatever.
"Maybe I'll just give him a break in camp, but I'll do whatever they want me to do. You never want to get your shot after somebody gets hurt, but I'm still going to go out there and do my best. And we'll see what happens.''
And that's all the Steelers can ask from Estermyer.
Estermyer Remains With Hometown Team
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