Spotlight: Transfer revives McCabe's career

Kevin McCabe revived his football career at California University of Pennsylvania. Now, he's landed with the Steelers.

If you had asked Kevin McCabe a year ago what he'd be doing this summer, you'd probably have gotten a variety of different answers.

Practicing with an NFL team would not have been one of those answers.

But that's what the former California University of Pennsylvania quarterback will be doing later this week after McCabe agreed to a deal Monday with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted rookie.

"I'm very excited about getting the opportunity to keep playing," said the 6-2, 220-pound McCabe, who led the Vulcans to a 12-2 record and the NCAA Division II semifinals last season.

"To have it happen with my hometown team, a team I grew up watching, well, that's even better."

It was certainly unexpected for the Gibsonia native.

Highly recruited out of Pine-Richland High School, McCabe originally went to the University of Virginia, where he saw action in each of his first three seasons, including one start, a 17-10 loss to Western Michigan in 2006. In that game, McCabe went 13-of-16 for 111 yards, but had two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

He didn't play another down for the Cavaliers, who opted to play freshman quarterback Jameel Sewell.

But after earning his degree in anthropology, McCabe still had a year of eligibility remaining and was looking to transfer somewhere to play football and work on his graduate degree.

California was a good fit.

"When my time at Virginia was up, that was a low point for me," said McCabe, who will report Friday to the Steelers' training facility on the South Side for the opening of mini-camp.

"I was just looking to find a place where I could play." California had just lost starter Joe Ruggiero to graduation and was only too happy to have McCabe.

"I thought he really performed well for us," said California coach John Luckhardt. "He really got stronger as the season wore on and was a great addition to our team."

In 14 starts at Cal, McCabe completed over 65 percent of his passes for 3,214 yards, 32 touchdowns and just 10 interceptions in 386 pass attempts.

But it wasn't until after the Vulcans' loss to Minnesota-Duluth in the Division II playoffs in November that Mccabe started thinking he might have an opportunity to compete for a spot in the NFL.

"Right after we lost, I was sad because I wanted to win a championship for California and Coach Luckhardt. But then a representative, who had watched me play, told me I had the tools to compete at the next level."

He got a unique opportunity to prove that by going back to where he started. He returned to Virginia to work out with his former teammates. He also participated in the Cavaliers' pro day.

"Initially, it was interesting going back because there were people I hadn't seen in a while," McCabe said. "But it was great because I really didn't have to get acclimated to the place, and it was a great showcase to be able to work out with the kind of talented players they have. I think they had five guys drafted."

McCabe wasn't the only rookie quarterback to agree to sign with the Steelers. Pittsburgh also added Central Washington's Mike Reilly. The Steelers have five quarterbacks to work with during the offseason program. The others are starter Ben Roethlisberger, veteran backup Charlie Batch and Dennis Dixon, a fifth-round draft pick last year.

"I don't know if they'll take all five of us to training camp. Five sounds like a lot," McCabe admitted. "So I guess every day will be important. My goal is to take it step by step and show that I belong. The first step for me will be moving out of my parent's house. Hopefully, I won't have to move back in."

One thing for sure, Luckhardt will be watching.

"I think it's a great opportunity for him to take his best shot," Luckhardt said. "And the worst-case scenario is that it doesn't work out for him with the Steelers, maybe somebody else likes what they see."

In addition to McCabe and Reilly, the Steelers agreed to contracts with Pitt long-snapper Mark Esermyer, Tennessee offensive tackle Ramon Foster, inside linebacker Tom Korte of Hillsdale College, wide receiver Tyler Grisham of Clemson, safety Derrick Richardson of New Mexico State and linebacker Any Schantz of Portland State.

Steelers director of football operations Kevin Colbert said he'd like to sign between 10 to 12 rookie free agents.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.

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