Snapshot: Miles Dieffenbach

Penn State and Fox Chapel product already has the respect of the Pittsburgh Steelers' coaching staff.

On a team that signed several highly decorated but undrafted interior offensive linemen out of the college ranks this past spring, Miles Dieffenbach received the most second-team work for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"Yes," was about all Dieffenbach would say to that, even when pressed for more.

"I'm just excited for the opportunity to be here," he said. "I'm working as hard as I can to try and bring some value to the team and help as much as I can."

Was it the coaching he received in college that prepared him so well?

"Well, yeah, I've had great college coaches throughout the years, being with three different staffs and a lot of good coaches," Dieffenbach said. "And we have a great coach here in Coach (Mike) Munchak, who's teaching us the ropes. It's going well."

Saying the right things is expected from not only Penn State players but from those out of Fox Chapel High School as well.

The affluent Pittsburgh suburb -- the former home of one Bill Cowher -- is where Dieffenbach played left tackle, guard and center and was named first-team All-State in 2008. He was considered a uniquely big and mobile center prospect and most of the big schools showed interest, but it came down to Pitt and Penn State and Dieffenbach chose the latter.

Why?

"The coaches, the people there, the tradition, the family atmosphere. It's a great school for academics. They really had everything I was looking for," he said.

But his family in Fox Chapel, as Dieffenbach said, "was a Pitt family," because his father, George Dieffenbach, at the time was in his 38th year of what would be a 41 -year affiliation with Pitt, first as a student-athlete on the tennis courts, then as the men's tennis coach, and finally -- after 15 years of coaching both men and women -- he completed 31 years as the school's all-time winningest women's tennis coach in 2013.

How did the young lineman's decision go over with his family?

"My dad was really supportive," Dieffenbach said. "He wanted me to make my own decision, so he was great about it."

At Penn State, Dieffenbach worked as a center for two years before receiving his first playing time as the starting left guard in 2011. He wasn't moved from the position until tearing the ACL in his left knee the spring before his final season.

While injured, Dieffenbach attended every practice, and during games wore a headset on the sidelines before returning to action in November. He started the final three games before finishing his college career with 26 starts and two degrees (Advertising and Labor Employment Relations).

Dieffenbach said his college highlights include the four-overtime win over Michigan in 2013 and "the experience of all those different staffs."

Really?

"It's a blessing when you can learn from a lot of different people," he explained. "You learn a lot of different styles of football. It helps."

The current OL coach at Penn State, Herb Hand, assessed Dieffenbach's NFL chances for the school's website in this way:

"Miles could be a nice addition as an interior player, with his best opportunity to contribute coming at the center position," Hand said.

But the 6-4 1/8, 301-pounder with natural knee-bend and enough mobility to interest the NFL's zone-blocking coaches went undrafted. Obviously, the decimated senior season didn't help.

"Yeah, it's tough, but things happen," Dieffenbach said. "It's football and you've got to deal with it."

Dieffenbach said his left knee is "great. I don't feel anything," and he didn't miss any time this spring, when he was the Steelers' primary second-team left guard opposite right guard Chris Hubbard. The two often switched sides and Dieffenbach said he could also help at center, and possibly, in an emergency, tackle. Dieffenbach said he has a good understanding of the Steelers' playbook.

"It's pretty similar to the things we did in college," he said. "A little different terminology, but they do a great job of simplifying everything here as a staff and helping the players as much as they can."

"He's been doing well," said Jesse James, a fellow Steelers rookie from Penn State. "Great guy. Great personality. He knows his stuff. Real high football IQ. He was a great player for us at Penn State. He was a leader there. He has a lot of great qualities that I'm sure can help this team in some way."


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