Rookie snapshot: Cedric Humes

New Steelers running back Cedric Humes will likely have to wait his turn before he gets a shot at carrying the football for his new team.

With 1,200-yard rusher Willie Parker and veterans Duce Staley and Verron Haynes ahead of him on the depth chart, Humes, a seventh-round draft pick out of Virginia Tech, has some obstacles to overcome to make the team.

But the 6-1, 233-pound Humes, whom the Pittsburgh Steelers selected in the seventh round of the draft, is used to waiting his turn.

After all, he chose to attend Virginia Tech – choosing the Hokies over Pitt – in the same recruiting class as Parade All-American running back Kevin Jones, a first-round pick two years ago of Detroit. Considering the Hokies also had Lee Suggs, who now plays for the Cleveland Browns, there wasn't a lot of room for Humes to get the ball.

So while Suggs and then Jones got the bulk of the carries early in Humes' stay at Virginia Tech, it was his turn to shine when Jones left early for the NFL in 2004.

Unfortunately, early in a scrimmage in Virginia Tech's 2004 spring practice, Humes suffered a broken bone in his lower left leg. The injury was bad enough that by the time the Hokies were preparing for the 2004 season, his leg still wasn't 100 percent.

Humes, a power back, struggled, gaining just 153 yards on his first 41 carries.

"It was a mental thing with Cedric," Virginia Tech running backs coach Billy Hite told the Fredericksburg Free Lance Star. "Even after he got healthy, he was worried he was going to get hurt again. He just couldn't turn it loose."

Humes eventually fell behind Mike Imoh and Justin Hamilton on the depth chart, further eroding his confidence.

"I definitely had my down moments," Humes told the Free Lance Star. "I had worked hard to be the best. I was wondering what was going to happen to me: Was I going to be big here or just a mediocre guy?"

He chose to be big, turning his season - and career - around against Florida A&M. Humes rushed for 120 yards and two touchdown in Virginia Tech's 62-0 rout. He followed that up with 85 yards against Maryland, 95 yards against Virginia and 110 in a win over Miami that gave the Hokies the ACC Championship in their first season in the conference.

Suddenly, a player rated as one of the top-10 players in Virginia in 2001 by the Roanoke Times, ahead of the likes of tight end Heath Miller, now with the Steelers, and offensive lineman Elton Brown, now of the Arizona Cardinals, was playing like one.

Despite his slow start, he finished the season with 605 yards on 130 carries with five touchdowns.

Despite that strong finish, Humes went into his final season at Virginia Tech sharing time with Imoh, another talented runner. Imoh was the speed back, Humes the pounder.

And the pounder got pounded. During the Hokies' Oct. 8 game against Marshall, Humes broke the ulna bone in his right arm. He spent the second half of the game on the sideline with his arm in a sling. But not wanting this injury to ruin his season as the broken leg did before, Humes had surgery wasn was back on the football field 19 days later.

"I've worked so hard to get to this point," Humes told the Free Lance Star. "Playing running back at Virginia Tech is a constant competition. I knew I had to get back as soon as I could or I might end up third- or fourth-string."

Humes finished his final season for the Hokies with 752 yards on 162 carries with a team-best 11 touchdowns.

Now, he'll face a similar challenge breaking into the lineup for the defending Super Bowl champions. When he does that, he can recall the days at Virginia Tech when things weren't always going his way. When he stayed hungry and worked hard to stay on the football field.

"I want to be remembered for my hard work, for my ability to come back," Humes told the Hokies' media department. "I think the main thing is about the injury. I fought through it and some guys would never be the same after that injury, but I came back to my old self."

Even though he's a seventh-round pick, that doesn't mean he won't get a chance with the Steelers. Parker made the team two years ago as an undrafted rookie, while Haynes was a fifth-round pick.

And with an opening on the roster created by the retirement of Jerome Bettis, Humes will be in the mix for a roster spot.

"Whatever I go there to do, and whatever I do, I'm going to compete," Humes said. "If that's the job that I need to compete for, I definitely will. I definitely believe that I can be the short-yardage guy."

Courtesy of the Observer-Reporter


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