Snapshot: Cam Stephenson, Darnell Stapleton

The final installment of our Snapshot series takes a look at the two Steelers rookie offensive linemen from Rutgers: Cameron Stephenson and Darnell Stapleton.

Rutgers football was the best story in college athletics last year, and the running game was at the heart of the team's success, and so the two offensive linemen who matriculated to the Steelers this year are responsible for all of the above.

Right?

"Yeah," said Darnell Stapleton before thinking the question through.

"Well," he added, "we were the two seniors. The other three still have another year left and they're all great players. I think all three will get drafted next year."

Maybe the Steelers will take all three of those players, too. After all, the Rutgers offensive line was at the core of the best story in years, wasn't it?

"Oh, we were," Stapleton said. "But you know, as a unit, we're a big old family. The Steelers have that mentality too. It's not the position, it's the responsibility. If we don't do our job, people get hurt."

Excellent. It appears the rookie has a firm grasp on the concept, and it showed last season. Stapleton the center and Cam Stephenson the right guard were the heart of a Rutgers line that allowed only eight sacks – the fewest in the nation. They also paved the way for the NCAA's second-ranked runner, Ray Rice, and an overall ground game that ranked 20th in the nation.

Stephenson was drafted by the Steelers with their first pick in the fifth round and Stapleton was signed as a free agent after the draft. Since they're best friends, they were obviously pleased at that day's development. But it did come as a surprise.

"I talked to the Steelers when I was at my all-star game and my pro day," Stapleton said. "They said they were really interested, but a lot of teams say that and nothing comes of it."

The Steelers managed to keep their feelings in check, but they were interested in the two players all year.

Stephenson (6-3, 306) is an Australian-born Tongan and a converted defensive end who has what scouts refer to as "upside." He moved from Sydney to Los Angeles at the age of eight and didn't play football until his freshman year of high school. Stephenson went to Los Angeles Harbor College as a defensive tackle but moved to offensive tackle when he transferred to Rutgers in 2004. He moved back to the defensive line in 2005 and then back to the offensive line last year when he settled in at right guard. He played the position this spring with the third-team Steelers line.

Stapleton (6-3, 285) also attended a junior college, but the Union, New Jersey, native didn't have to travel as far when he moved on to Rutgers. Stapleton entered the program as the fourth-team center but moved up to the top spot in only one camp. He started two years at center but played left guard at the North-South All-Star Classic and then most of the spring with the Steelers. He was the third-team left guard, but did get some work at center late in the spring. Both players figure to be brought along slowly by the Steelers, who'll need depth next year with the presumed loss of three starters in free agency.

"Me and Cam have an understanding for each other," Stapleton said. "We can relate, like we'll see a play here and I'll be like, ‘This is like the play we ran back in Rutgers and I've got this and you've got that.' It's some of the similar language that me and him can understand and we can go back and forth with each other."

Stapleton is the more talkative of the two, which one might expect of the Jersey native.

"He's East Coast and I'm West Coast," said Stephenson. "I don't really talk much. He's the one who really mouths off a lot. We're opposites. You could get him to start ragging on me and stuff."

Instead, Stapleton started to "rag" on himself. When asked to explain his nickname of "Juicy Fruit," Stapleton gave an honest and unflattering explanation.

"It was Juicy Butt," Stapleton said in correcting Stephenson. "I sweat a lot so they used to make me change my pants at halftime because our quarterback used to complain about it.

"We called him ‘Killer Cam,' but he's just a laid back guy. He used to play D-line, but he's laid back and won't get overwhelmed by any situation. When it's time to play, he performs. That's one thing I can say about him."

The Steelers, by their actions on the second day of the draft, said that about both of them.


Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\n\r\nRutgers football was the best story in college athletics last year, and the running game was at the heart of the team's success, and so the two offensive linemen who matriculated to the Steelers this year are responsible for all of the above.\r\n\r\n

Right?\r\n\r\n

\"Yeah,\" said Darnell Stapleton before thinking the question through.\r\n\r\n

\"Well,\" he added, \"we were the two seniors. The other three still have another year left and they're all great players. I think all three will get drafted next year.\"\r\n\r\n

Maybe the Steelers will take all three of those players, too. After all, the Rutgers offensive line was at the core of the best story in years, wasn't it?\r\n\r\n

\"Oh, we were,\" Stapleton said. \"But you know, as a unit, we're a big old family. The Steelers have that mentality too. It's not the position, it's the responsibility. If we don't do our job, people get hurt.\"\r\n\r\n

Excellent. It appears the rookie has a firm grasp on the concept, and it showed last season. Stapleton the center and Cam Stephenson the right guard were the heart of a Rutgers line that allowed only eight sacks – the fewest in the nation. They also paved the way for the NCAA's second-ranked runner, Ray Rice, and an overall ground game that ranked 20th in the nation.\r\n\r\n

Stephenson was drafted by the Steelers with their first pick in the fifth round and Stapleton was signed as a free agent after the draft. Since they're best friends, they were obviously pleased at that day's development. But it did come as a surprise.\r\n\r\n

\"I talked to the Steelers when I was at my all-star game and my pro day,\" Stapleton said. \"They said they were really interested, but a lot of teams say that and nothing comes of it.\"\r\n\r\n

The Steelers managed to keep their feelings in check, but they were interested in the two players all year.\r\n\r\n

Stephenson (6-3, 306) is an Australian-born Tongan and a converted defensive end who has what scouts refer to as \"upside.\" He moved from Sydney to Los Angeles at the age of eight and didn't play football until his freshman year of high school. Stephenson went to Los Angeles Harbor College as a defensive tackle but moved to offensive tackle when he transferred to Rutgers in 2004. He moved back to the defensive line in 2005 and then back to the offensive line last year when he settled in at right guard. He played the position this spring with the third-team Steelers line.\r\n\r\n

Stapleton (6-3, 285) also attended a junior college, but the Union, New Jersey, native didn't have to travel as far when he moved on to Rutgers. Stapleton entered the program as the fourth-team center but moved up to the top spot in only one camp. He started two years at center but played left guard at the North-South All-Star Classic and then most of the spring with the Steelers. He was the third-team left guard, but did get some work at center late in the spring. Both players figure to be brought along slowly by the Steelers, who'll need depth next year with the presumed loss of three starters in free agency.\r\n\r\n

\"Me and Cam have an understanding for each other,\" Stapleton said. \"We can relate, like we'll see a play here and I'll be like, ‘This is like the play we ran back in Rutgers and I've got this and you've got that.' It's some of the similar language that me and him can understand and we can go back and forth with each other.\"\r\n\r\n

Stapleton is the more talkative of the two, which one might expect of the Jersey native.\r\n\r\n

\"He's East Coast and I'm West Coast,\" said Stephenson. \"I don't really talk much. He's the one who really mouths off a lot. We're opposites. You could get him to start ragging on me and stuff.\"\r\n\r\n

Instead, Stapleton started to \"rag\" on himself. When asked to explain his nickname of \"Juicy Fruit,\" Stapleton gave an honest and unflattering explanation.\r\n\r\n

\"It was Juicy Butt,\" Stapleton said in correcting Stephenson. \"I sweat a lot so they used to make me change my pants at halftime because our quarterback used to complain about it.\r\n\r\n

\"We called him ‘Killer Cam,' but he's just a laid back guy. He used to play D-line, but he's laid back and won't get overwhelmed by any situation. When it's time to play, he performs. That's one thing I can say about him.\"\r\n\r\n

The Steelers, by their actions on the second day of the draft, said that about both of them. \r\n

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