Dupree: 'I am ready to keep working'

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On Saturday, Bud Dupree walked with the rest of his graduating class at the University of Kentucky with a Steelers decal proudly displayed on the cap all graduates wear.

On Sunday morning, that same logo adorned the Steelers helmet the team's first round draft pick wore in the final practice of rookie minicamp.

Steelers No. 1 draft pick Bud Dupree arrived in Pittsburgh in time to take part in the team's final minicamp practice.

Dupree missed the first two days of minicamp, four practices in total, so that he could attend graduation. It was something that wasn't just important to him, but to his mother Sophia Stephens. Dupree had promised his mother he would graduate, so being there to receive the diploma he earned for his degree in community and leadership development meant the world to him.

"Graduation was great," said Dupree. "I am happy to have gone through it, to be finished with school. It was four years of hard work and I finally got it done. It was a great experience, something you never get to do again unless you go back to graduate school. Having my diploma is something I can use whenever I need to. You can now tell your kids someday to go finish school. It felt great.

"It's something I wanted to do. My mom wanted to see me graduate so I made her happy. She was very proud. I am the first one to graduate in my immediate family so it was a great experience."

Dupree said he could feel the love and support from those attending Kentucky's graduation ceremony, hearing the loud cheers when his name was called.

"It was a touching feeling and I am glad I got to experience it," said Dupree. "It comes with a lot of pride. A lot of people don't get to graduate and I'm very happy I am one of the few that got to."

While his fellow graduates likely took some time after graduation to celebrate their accomplishment, Dupree had a job to get to. He hopped on a flight Saturday night bound for Pittsburgh, and was at practice on Sunday morning.

"I knew it was time to get to work," said Dupree. "I was tired when I got in. I was tired, but you have to get over it.

"It was a whirlwind, but I got it done. I am happy to have it over with and now working hard on my football career."

Despite taking the field after just one meeting, Dupree seemed comfortable in his first practice but he is the first to admit he has a long way to go.

"Practice was good," said Dupree. "It was tough going right out there after missing a few, but like everything, you just have to push it under the rug and keep on moving. I think I did all right. I have a lot to improve on, but it was a good start."

Dupree worked closely with outside linebackers coach Joey Porter, and is anxious to learn more and be a part of the defensive scheme the team runs.

"Coach Porter is a great coach to be around," said Dupree. "He is awesome. It was great working with him. He taught me a lot already. The way they use the outside linebackers is great. They get a chance to make plays and I am excited about that. I still have a lot to work on and I plan on doing that.

"It's great to be here. I am ready to keep working."

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