Snapshot: Frank Summers

He grew up on the tough and unforgiving streets of Oakland, Calif., he goes by the nickname ‘Tank' and became sort of a cult hero for a YouTube clip showcasing him knocking the bejesus out of an unsuspecting kick returner during his formidable days at Skyline High School.

If there was one sport that Frank Summers was born to play it was definitely ice hockey.

Or was it golf? Swimming. No, tennis.

The 5-foot-10, 242-pound bowling ball of a running back and the Steelers' fifth round pick in April's draft wasn't your prototypical youth growing up in the inner city.

Despite being surrounded by some, as he called, ‘rough friends', Summers never really got into trouble growing up.

"I had friends fall by the wayside growing up," Summers said. "It just made me appreciative of everything I have right now and the opportunity I have. It taught me a lot. It made me mentally and physically tough."

Summers never went down that other path probably because his family kept him busy almost 24/7.

"I always had the thought in mind of being a successful man whether it was a firefighter or anything else like that," Summers said. "I always wanted to be a successful man. My family was very strong behind me. I always told people that it is pretty hard to fall back when you have a brick wall against your back."

One way Summers stayed on the straight and narrow was sports.

"I pretty much played every sport growing up," Summers said.

Every sport except football that is.

"I was talking to Coach (Mike) Tomlin the other night and told him the reason I started playing football was because I didn't have any football trophies," Summers said. "I played ice hockey, I played basketball, I played tennis, swimming, golf. I played every and any sport possible except football. Football was my last sport and it was the sport I feel in love with."

Quickly Summers realized that football was also his best sport. He became very passionate about the game and it became evident during his high school days that what he enjoyed most was hitting people.

Not long after that, Summers' brother came across a clip of Frank on YouTube running over a would-be tackler followed by a clip of him kicking off (yes, kicking off) then racing down and de-cleating the returner near the sideline.

"My brother actually told me that somebody put it up," Summers said. "A lot of people in the public back in Vegas and back home have already seen it so that's cool."

Tomlin came across that clip during his evaluation of Summers a few months back.

"I did, but that did not weigh in his evaluation for us," Tomlin said. "That was in high school – I did some things in high school."

Summers selection gives the Steelers an option to play fullback and running back while having the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield and be a lead blocker or carry it himself around the goalline.

"He has the ability to play both running back and fullback," running back coach Kirby Wilson said. "That was the unique thing about him that we liked. He has halfback qualities but fullback size. There was some uniqueness there that made him an obvious draw for us."

The Steelers plan to use Summers at both fullback and running back mostly because of his 4.55 40 time that was better than a number of running backs who got invited to February's NFL Combine one of which wasn't Summers.

"An attractive feature for us was a big running back like him who is also a functional special team's player," Tomlin said. "This guy was a productive special team's player. He covers kicks – he covered punts – he was an up-back if you will in the kickoff return game. You know we're looking for guys that are capable a lot of things."

Summers spent two season playing junior college football, then transferred to UNLV and became the only player in Rebels' history to have led his team in both rushing (six) and receiving (four) touchdowns in the same season. He caught 36 passes in two years and six touchdowns in 24 collegiate games.

"Since I was younger my uncles always played catch with me and taught me how to catch and see the other running backs around the country and see what gave them the edge was to be able to receive the ball," Summers said. "I consider myself a complete back and one of those things that you need to do to be a complete back is to receive the ball."

He could also be used in goalline situations – a aspect the Steelers struggled at mightily last year. Summers scored 14 rushing touchdown in two years at UNLV

"I love touchdowns," Summers said. "That is my favorite part of the game and that is one of the reasons why I wanted to be a running back/fullback otherwise I probably would've been a linebacker. I am very passionate about the game."


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