Snapshot: Lindsey Witten

He's the younger brother of Buffalo's Donte Whitner, but Steelers rookie Lindsey Witten is determined to make a name for himself, according to Dale Lolley.

Growing up in Cleveland, Lindsey Witten, like most younger siblings, idolized his older brother.

Of course, when your brother is a starter at Ohio State and on his way to being a top-10 NFL draft pick, there's a lot to idolize.

Witten, however, said he hasn't leaned too much on his older brother, Buffalo Bills' safety Donte Whitner, as he makes the transition from college to the NFL.

"We're just like any other brothers," said Witten, who was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Pittsburgh Steelers following the NFL draft.

"He went through this whole process and if things got tough, I would talk to him, ask him for advice. But, for the most part, I haven't leaned on him too much because I want to learn about this on my own."

That has been Witten's motto for much of his life.

A lanky 6-4, 190-pounds as a high school senior, Witten struggled to find playing time at Ohio powerhouse Glenville, which had 21 players earn college football scholarships, including 15 who went to Division I-A programs.

Prior to that senior season, Witten played wide receiver and quarterback. But the coaching staff had a need at defensive end and saw something in Witten, moving him to that position.

He rewarded them by earning all-state honors after recording 98 tackles and 18 sacks in his final season.

"They noticed that when I ran with the ball I tried to run people over because I wanted to hit people," Witten said. "So they moved me to defense."

He's been there ever since.

Witten has bulked up to a solid 250 pounds and after he recorded 11.5 sacks as a senior at defensive end for the University of Connecticut, the Steelers are moving him to outside linebacker.

"I just want to hit people, I don't care what position I'm playing," Witten said. "I think the coaches brought me in for that reason. I don't care whether it be on special teams or on defense, I love hitting and running."

He didn't always get that opportunity at Connecticut.

Despite arriving on campus at 210 pounds, Witten saw action as a situational pass rusher and part-time starter as a true freshman. But he spent the next two seasons behind Cody Brown and Julius Williams, seeing action only in nickel and dime situations.

Witten had 10.5 sacks in his first three seasons in that role, but was forced to wait for a more extensive role.

That opportunity came in his senior season when he was the Huskies' lone returning defensive end with significant playing experience.

He jumped out of the gate by recording seven sacks in UConn's first two games, picking up three against Ohio and four against North Carolina.

"I started getting more attention after that," Witten said. "Teams started chipping me more and scheming my way."

Still, his final numbers of 45 tackles and 11.5 sacks were nothing to sneeze at.

Yet, despite posting a 4.7-second 40-yard dash, 36 1/2-inch vertical leap and 10-3 standing broad jump, he went undrafted. A hamstring injury that kept him from performing position drills at his personal workout may have had something to do with that, but Witten isn't concerned.

"I'm looking forward, not backward," he said. "I've got a great opportunity here in front of me with the Steelers. The veterans have been great, helping me learn the new position. I had a lot of teams calling me after the draft, but this was the best fit for me."

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


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