Caylor may serve dual purpose

Long snappers and left-handed relief pitchers may be the most sought-after players in professional sports. <br><br>Steelers' sixth-round draft choice Drew Caylor, the third of the team's picks in that round, realized that a long time ago. And since he's not a lefty, Caylor became a long snapper.

"There's certainly always a demand for it," said Caylor, who also started at center in 2003 for Stanford after moving over from the defensive line. "I showed a knack for long snapping pretty early on and once I got to college and started doing it, I though I might have a chance to get into the NFL and do it. It's always been a dream of mine."

And make no mistake about it, the Steelers made the 6-5, 288-pound Caylor he 197th pick in the draft because of his long-snapping skills.

Special teams coach Kevin Spencer was the first person from the organization to speak to him and the team envisions him as a possible replacement for veteran Mike Schneck. Caylor would have a dual value since he could also serve as a possible backup center.

Schneck, who is scheduled to earn a base salary of $550,000 in 2004 and $645,000 in 2005. And since he doesn't play another position, the Steelers are constantly looking for a cheaper alternative who could also be a backup at another position.

"When you are talking about a 45-man game day roster, if you can get a guy that can play a position and also snap, that is valuable because that gives you one extra guy for whatever you need," said new Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. "If he can be that guy, I don't know. It may take him some time. But he is a guy that does have some experience in college as a center. I know Kevin Spencer liked him as a long snapper. He does have an ability to do that. So it will be interesting as well to see how he progresses as a center."

Caylor went to Stanford as a defensive lineman, starting a handful of games, before moving to the offensive line as a senior because of the Cardinal's lack of depth there. He spent the first four games as a backup at both tackle and center before moving into the starting lineup for the final seven contests at center.

"We were really young on the offensive line and my junior year I had a short stint at offensive tackle," said Caylor, a Kensington, Maryland native. "I was one of the older guys that gained experience who they thought might be able to come over on the offensive line and contribute almost immediately. I did and it turned out to be the best thing for me."

Given the NFL's addition of three more spots on the practice squad this season, Caylor would seem to be a perfect player to spend a year learning the ins and outs of playing the pivot in the NFL. With Jeff Hartings and Chukky Okobi ahead of him, the Steelers don't have room for another center this season. But the team may look to shed Hartings' $4.2 million base salary next season and Caylor could move into a backup position behind Okobi while also serving as the team's long snapper.

"I'll do whatever it takes," said Caylor, who holds a degree in American Studies with a minor in Urban Planning. "I might want to get into real estate some day, but that can wait for now. I'm going after my dream. Playing in the NFL is something you dream about as a kid and I'm getting that chance now. I'm going to make the most of it."

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