Although the road to creating and sustaining an NFL career is a difficult one, it is much more arduous for players who enter the league as undrafted free agents (UDFAs). The Pittsburgh Steelers have never been an organization that has shied away from UDFAs, and some of the players who have been instrumental in their success over the last four decades (Donnie Shell, Randy Grossman, James Harrison, Willie Parker, etc.) have been acquired in that fashion.
Recent UDFAs like Ramon Foster and Steve McLendon have found permanent starting spots with the Steelers, while others like Robert Golden have emerged as special teams standouts.
Terence Garvin is one UDFA who has garnered publicity with his play over the course of this season, and the rookie inside linebacker has caught the eyes of Pittsburgh’s coaching staff in recent weeks.
A former safety at the University of West Virginia with only one season of experience at the linebacker position under his belt, Garvin went undrafted in April and was not signed by the Steelers until early May. Despite the fact that he switched to linebacker from safety before his senior campaign with the Mountaineers, Garvin’s slight frame and lack of experience at the linebacker position made him an afterthought as a potential professional acquisition.
Although Garvin eventually found a spot on Pittsburgh’s roster due to his play on special teams, his versatile skill-set has helped him get into the lineup on the defensive side of the ball in sub-package situations lately as well.
Garvin is far more agile than his rookie teammate Vince Williams, and his background as a safety along with his development at his new position have been the biggest reasons why he has seen time on defense in recent weeks. Members of his coaching staff have been pleased with his play, and his teammates like Jarvis Jones have noticed this as well according to Scott Brown of ESPN.com:
The coaches like him. They really like him, [...] I’m excited for him.
I for one am happy that the coaching staff is giving Garvin a shot to help in sub-package situations. Williams is better suited as an in-the-box thumper, Larry Foote is a question mark due to his age and lack of mobility and Sean Spence still remains a mystery due to the knee injury he sustained last August.
With so many questions at inside linebacker, extended playing time on the defensive side of the ball could be Garvin’s to lose right now. The rookie UDFA has a window to shine right now, and I hope that he can illustrate to the coaching staff that he is worthy of sticking around for more than just special teams duty in the future.
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