Snapshot: Tom Korte

Deep into the offseason, SteelCityInsider.com continues its coverage of the Pittsburgh Steelers with a look at another newcomer. Here's an inside peek at undrafted free agent linebacker Tom Korte.

Growing up in Grand Rapids , Mich. , Tom Korte was naturally a die-hard Detroit Lions fan.

He rarely missed a game, especially during his formidable years between the ages of 12 and 15 when a guy named Charlie Batch was quarterbacking his favorite team.

"I watched him on TV a lot," said Korte.

Fast forward a decade or so and just days after the Steelers signed the inside linebacker from tiny Division II Hillsdale College to a rookie free agent contract, Korte found himself smack-dab in the middle of the field at the Steelers indoor complex for his first practice as a professional football player when it happened.

"I was just learning the plays," Korte recalled. "Actually I didn't even know the play."

It was a Cover 3 drop and just about the time the 6-foot, 240-pound linebacker got to the spot he needed to be in on the field, the football was right there waiting for him.

One his first day as a Pittsburgh Steeler during his first practice, Tom Korte intercepted a pass and returned it 50 yards, untouched, for a touchdown.

"One of the other quarterbacks came up to me later and told me nice pick," Korte said. "I asked him if it was him. They told me it was Charlie Batch. I couldn't believe it. I was a Detroit Lions fan my entire life growing up in Michigan so what a great way to start things."

And for Korte, he hopes it is just the beginning.

Korte knows the odds are stacked against him of making the team especially with the double whammy of being an undrafted free agent along with playing his college ball for a Division II school in Michigan .

"Believe me, nobody feels sorry for me because I am D-II," Korte said. "I have to catch up real quick. Believe me, I know I am a free agent trying to make a team."

With the Steelers being a little thin at the inside linebacker spot, Korte could very well join the like of James Harrison and Willie Parker who went from undrafted free agents to making the team with a solid training camp.

"It motivates me that this team has a history of taking rookie free agents and giving them a chance," Korte said. "You have Willie Parker, you have James Harrison. It shows that the organization takes the best talent and puts them on the field. That's reassuring for guys like me."

Behind starters James Farrior and Lawrence Timmons, the Steelers only have veteran Keyaron Fox, Donovan Woods, Korte and fellow undrafted free agent Andrew Schantz from Portland State .

"They recognize talent when they see it," Korte said. "All I have to do now is go out there and do my part. Special teams is the way I am going to make it. If I am going to be the a NFL player and make a team I don't want it to be anywhere else but here."

Korte distinguished himself as one of the best linebackers in Division II the past three years. He led the team in tackles three times, was named the team's most outstanding linebacker three times, and was tabbed First-Team All-GLIAC three times, but still didn't get an invite to the Cactus Bowl, the D-II all-star game, last December.

"At the time I was a little upset," Korte said. "But that is the way it goes some times. I actually think it was a mixed blessing not getting invited to that game. I had a couple of broken ribs I was playing with and it gave me some extra time to heal up before working out."

Korte impressed the Steelers enough to sign him to a two-year free agent deal.

"My ultimate goal is to be the a starter in the NFL," Korte said. "As of right now it is to make that 53 man roster scratching and clawing as much as I need to. I want to be on that field and contribute and play the game I love."

Korte knows it is going to be challenging.

"If you are going to give me a challenge then give me the Super Bowl champions," Korte said.


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