SnapShot: Nashville Dyer

James Harrison made the practice squad last year before being elevated to the Steelers' roster late in the season. He apparently made a good impression because the Steelers went back to Harrison's old school for two more undrafted free agents this year.

"Yeah, they're finally starting to see where the real players are at," said Harrison, an outside linebacker. "They're real boys at Kent State and they're starting to see that."

Harrison, nose tackle Roy Attieh and cornerback Nashville Dyer formed the nucleus of a Kent State defense that led the team to its first winning record in 14 years in 2001, and all three are currently with the Steelers.

"It's a great thing for me because James Harrison has been here and so we know it's possible to make this team," said Dyer, who was Kent's best cover corner throughout the last three seasons.

Dyer made 31 career starts since stepping into the Kent State lineup in the middle of his freshman season. Look up his name on the Internet and it's likely to be preceded by the term "cover corner."

"For two years in a row, my junior and senior years, we had the best red-zone defense in the conference and one of the best in the country," said Dyer. "Anything that was past the 50, we basically shut it down. If they scored a touchdown, it was on the ground. That's basically how I got that reputation, my man-to-man defense."

That's how he got his reputation. But how did he get that unique first name?

"My grandmother gave it to me," he said. "She was in Nashville on her honeymoon and she loved it so much she thought of that name.

"I love it. It's a name that's very distinguished from a lot of names. It's elite. I love it man. Nobody else has it."

Dyer was born in Riviera Beach, Fla., and went to Kent after being named third-team all-state in 1997.

As a redshirt freshman in 1999, Dyer made five starts. His best game was a five-tackle performance against Pitt.

"That was my most memorable game," he said. "I picked (John) Turman off twice and they called one back."

As a sophomore, Dyer made seven starts and before his junior year was named the Co-Most Improved Defensive Player. He went on to lead the team and was second in the MAC with four interceptions and became the first Kent player in seven years to win a conference Player of the Week award after his two-interception game against Bucknell. Dyer won a second Player of the Week award as a senior. In his college career, Dyer made nine interceptions.

At his pro day, the 5-9¾, 182-pound Dyer ran a 4.43 40 and an impressive 6.64 in the 3-cone drill. He also had a vertical jump of 37.5 inches.

"Things are good," Dyer said during minicamp. "But I'm a rookie and I have a lot of learning and catching up to do. Once I get it down, it's done. It's in there. Then I can take my game to the next level."

Jim Wexell

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