Princeton TE caught Cowher's attention

After the draft, the final roster spots were being filled via telephone. Bill Cowher popped into the war room and asked if the tight end from Princeton had been signed. The question was met with blank stares. Only one scout had any information on Jonathan Dekker, and it was a time from his Pro Day workout. That was enough.

Q&A (5-17-06): Jonathan Dekker, Pittsburgh Steelers

Did you get to know the coach's daughter at Princeton?

I do know her. I saw her play basketball. She's all-Ivy basketball player and I talked to her. She's a real nice girl.

Did it help you end up here?

I saw Coach Cowher at games but I knew he was there to watch his daughter, so I never put in a plug to watch me play. But they had a scout there at my Pro Day and I think that really helped.

What do you run?

I ran a 4.66-4.68 at my Pro Day.

What were your college highlights?

My senior year. We won seven games and that was the first time Princeton won seven games in 10 years or so. I felt like I was playing for a team. I really felt close to my teammates. And we took second.

Any individual highlights?

My mom and dad always love the one play against Cornell where I caught the ball over the middle and a guy tried to tackle me and I threw him down and then there was a guy waiting at the goal line and I gave him a forearm and just knocked him over. There was another one against Penn. I don't think we'd beaten Penn in 10 years before this one. It was in the fourth quarter with about seven minutes left and we called this play where I kind of delayed and then ran over the middle and it was perfect timing. Our quarterback, Jeff Terrell, hit me over the middle and I ran like 33 yards for a touchdown.

Sounds similar to the pass you caught today. Who hit you on that?

I think it was Charlie Batch.

How are you feeling about your chances here?

I'm just trying to put myself in the best position because I love this. I didn't know what to expect because this is a whole new thing for me. When you come to the pro level you don't know what to expect. I think if I keep working hard, and keep doing what I have to do, I like my chances. It's going to be a lot of hard work. That's the big thing.

You're a psychology major?


What are you planning to do in that field?

I don't know. At Princeton you have to write a thesis at the end of your senior year and I wrote mine on the psychology of gambling and it ended up 90 pages.

How do you know so much about gambling?

I didn't know a lot about it, but I got a lot of research from the library and did some interviews. As far as psychology, I don't even know what I'd go into. I'm having fun playing football. I feel like a kid. This is such a great experience and I'm really focused on this right now. Whatever is in store for me after football, I'll have time to decide.

What's the No. 1 problem behind gamblers?

There are different analyses. The behavioral psycho analysis of it is it's an irrational thought. You think you can beat the odds and you think a number's due or you're due for a win. And then there's the psycho analytic, which is the Freud stuff. They say gamblers have an unconscious desire to lose. That didn't make a lot of sense to me, but for some of these guys who keep losing and losing you have to wonder.

What kind of intelligence level do you have?

I went to Thomas More High School in Milwaukee and I think I had a 3.95 there. I don't remember my SAT, but I think I had a 29 on the ACT. At Princeton I ended up with a 3.0, which I was very happy about. You can't even imagine how smart some of those kids are. I'm amazed.

What about your team?

The group of guys was unbelievable, the caliber. Jay McCareins (DB) signed with Arizona; Ben Brielmaier (OL) is with Cleveland; Justin Stull (LB, Manheim Pa.) is with the Redskins; and Paul Lyons (OL) worked out with the Bengals last week. Five guys out of our school, in camps, has never happened at Princeton, I know that. I think it says something for our squad and the hard work we put in. Like Paul Lyons, he and I worked constantly after the season up until we had to leave. That's the commitment that we had this year on that team. They're a great group of guys.

Talk to me about your game, starting with your stats.

Three-year starter and 32 catches last year and 370 yards and five TDs. I felt my blocking was good. Blocking is just as important for me as catching the ball, and I love to catch the ball. But my blocking was good. We worked on it a lot in practice and it made me a complete tight end. You have to block here, so …

Who would you like to shrink here?

I don't even know. I've got to get to know them a little better.

How do you like the environment here?

First of all I'm happy they gave me the opportunity. I'm glad I got a chance to come here. It's a great organization. I was talking to people from Milwaukee about it. It's Packer country but they all knew about the Rooneys and the legacy of the Steelers.

Packer fan?

Not anymore. Growing up in Wisconsin, that's what you love. But everyone's talked about what a great franchise this is and I can see what a class organization it is just from being here this past week.

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