Football is very far from my favorite sport. To watch; to photograph; to anything, really. But that has nothing to do with why I only recognized three ... maybe four faces at Rooney Sports Complex Friday and Saturday.
Just to be clear, hockey was my first love. Music second. I fell in love with baseball at an age after I'd quit playing and wished I could go back. And soccer ... well, that's something that grows continuously. Football as a totem is just down the pole compared to the others.
Back on track though: There are a lot of players who make it to rookie camp for the Steelers, or any other NFL program. You can count on two hands how many of those players are drafted by any team. Sometimes you need an extra finger or two. Sometimes it's just one hand. The majority of the bodies at camp are guys that were signed to futures deals, are undrafted signees or hope to sign.
I recognized two of those players.
The first is the first guy you'll see up above in this week's gallery. It's not necessarily the best photo I took this week or anything, but it took me back to my previous life grinding away at West Virginia University -- shooting anything and everything I could.
The player drinking 10 percent of the water and feeding the other 90% to the grass is Dravon Askew-Henry. Like a lot of athletes and safeties, Askew-Henry ended up at WVU with a chance to see the field -- a lot. WVU has played a lot of 3-3-5 stack defense which sees an extra safety or two on the field as a hybrid linebacker.
That's simple math. It's easier to get on the field if there's a position for you to fill.
Askew-Henry was good though. So good that he was regarded as one of the country's best at the position before a season-ending knee injury in 2016. What I can tell you from watching him, especially Friday ... the guy still has it in him:
[caption id="attachment_825597" align="aligncenter" width="420"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
Yeah, he got up, stared it into his left hand for the stab and ended up hauling in the ball in a light rain. Heck of a play, and it got Hunter Homistek and I talking about what could have been for the Aliquippa, Pa., native.
I'm anxious to watch the guy throughout the various upcoming workouts. For a team who wants to utilize something of a hybrid safety in their defensive schemes, he could be a useful guy to keep around until the real training camp.
The other familiar face in a sea of otherwise unfamiliar faces was Ka'Raun White -- brother of Kevin White, who went to the Bears with the seventh overall pick in 2015. Ka'Raun didn't set the college world on fire like Kevin did with one-handed touchdown catches like this one over the current highest-paid corner in the NFL, Xavien Howard:
[caption id="attachment_825631" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY[/caption]
But, Ka'Ruan was a pretty successful possession receiver who was surrounded by more talent than Kevin was, making it pretty dang hard to show off in the same way. I didn't even realize he'd be at camp, but knew immediately that it was him when I shot this image and saw his face through his hands and helmet:
[caption id="attachment_825622" align="aligncenter" width="640"] MATT SUNDAY / DKPS[/caption]
The other guy I recognized? Well, that was Devin Bush, of course, and mainly because I'd already photographed him when he was introduced to the media. But, yeah, there are a few of him in the mix up there, too.
As always, the week's best photos — Steelers only this week, as I figured you guys might like that for football's first action of the year — are up top following the one of Askew-Henry. See you guys and gals in the comments.