Snapshot: Shaun Nua

It didn't take Shaun Nua long to feel the togetherness of the Pittsburgh Steelers. He sensed it the day he visited, about two weeks before the draft.

"I did not only see the chemistry, I felt it too," Nua told reporters after he was selected in the seventh round.

At the first practice of the first minicamp, Nua felt the togetherness again. He stood in the locker room afterward and took in the wide angle with a satisfied smile.

"I know for a fact I'll love it here," he said. "I just have to make it."

Nua should like the surroundings in Pittsburgh. He becomes the third BYU player under defensive line coach John Mitchell's direction. The first, Chris Hoke, came in 2001. The Steelers liked his work ethic so much they drafted Brett Keisel in 2002.

"We're taught to work hard and play with a lot of intensity," said Hoke. "I think they see it."

What the Steelers see in Nua is a 6-foot-5 lineman who can rush the passer. He started only four games in BYU's 3-3-5 front last season, but led the team with 6 sacks. He had 10 sacks in two seasons.

The Steelers believe Nua has the potential to become a swift 300-pound end in their 3-man front. The thinking has worked with the other ends drafted into this system.

"When we drafted Brett Keisel, Brett was 269, and when we got Aaron Smith here, he was 271," said Mitchell. "I think once we get (Nua) in here and get him in our weight program and bulk him up, he will be the same type of player that you see in Keisel, and he runs just as well as Aaron Smith."

Keisel is listed at 285 and Smith at 298 on the current roster. Nua is listed at 280, up 10 pounds from his draft-day listing. But few outsiders are certain about his weight since Nua wasn't invited to the combine. Nua just knows he has to add weight, and doesn't believe it'll be difficult.

"That's why I'm eating this power bar," he said in the locker room. "These guys are huge. Keisel got bigger; I need to get bigger. He's put on about 15 good pounds. I'll have to work out a little harder than usual because these are the best of the best. I like it."

Rookies normally talk that type of talk, but Nua beamed over being a Steeler. Is it because of his BYU friends?

"Oh, man, that helps a lot," he said. "I knew Keisel when I went to BYU on my recruiting trip. It was his senior year when I went there, so I knew him a little bit and used to watch him on TV. And Chris Hoke, he left a couple years before I arrived, but everybody back there talks about him. Coming here it was nice seeing them. They came over right away and showed me around a little bit."

The Steelers moved Nua into Oliver Ross's old locker, two doors down from Kimo von Oehloffen, who plays the right side of the defensive line and is obviously being set up as a mentor.

"He's a brahda," Nua said.

A what?

"A brahda. That's how we talk. He's Polynesian."

So you have more than BYU friends?

"My Polynesian friends," Nua said. "Kimo, (Chris) Kemoeatu, Troy (Polamalu), (Zach) Tuiasasopo."

So you think you'll like it here?

"No doubt," he said. "This is just the beginning."


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