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Five Fast Facts: Payton Wilson

Learn more about linebacker Payton Wilson in this edition of Five Fast Facts.

1. The Steelers selected the linebacker from North Carolina State in the third round of the 2024 NFL Draft, the 98th overall pick. Wilson played in 46 career games, recording 402 tackles, including 202 solo stops. He had 15 career sacks for a loss of 101 yards, seven interceptions, 20 passes defensed, one forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.

2. Wilson was the winner of the 2023 Butkus Award, presented to the nation's top linebacker, and the Bednarik Award, presented to the nation's top defensive player. Wilson played in 12 games in 2023, finishing with a career-high 138 tackles, including 69 solo stops. He also had a career-high six sacks for a loss of 34 yards.

Take a look at Payton Wilson's first photoshoot as a Pittsburgh Steeler

3. A series of injuries during his career is why Wilson thinks he dropped to the third round of the draft, and he feels like he has something to prove.

"Everyone knows I dropped in the draft due to my injuries, but I think I was one of the best people in this draft class," said Wilson. "I always have a chip on my shoulder. I want to be the best player in the world one day. That's my goal. That's what I work for every single day.

"I was always being looked at as the underdog and, wanting to be the best and trying to prove to people that I am the best, trying to prove to people and myself."

4. Wilson played at North Carolina State, where he got to know Steelers Hall of Fame Coach Bill Cowher, a former N.C. State player himself. Wilson has referred to Cowher as his idol, and received advice from him that he always carries with him.

"He is one of my idols," said Wilson. "I first met him two years ago, and my grandma grew up a massive Steelers fan, so she's absolutely in love with Bill Cowher. When I met him, I had to let him know that. Last year he came around a few times and just being able to speak to him and gain some knowledge from him, it was truly inspirational. Not just the fact that he's one of the greatest coaches ever, one of the greatest to ever play at N.C. State, but it's just the person that he is. Obviously, every single person knows who he is. But if you had no clue who he was, you would never know just because of how he presents himself and how humble and how well-spoken he is.

"One of the better things that he taught me was that when you go to the NFL, it's still the same game that you've been playing your whole life. It's just played by different people. A little more talent and a little more football IQ goes into it. But at the end of the day, just go out there and have fun and try to be the best player that you possibly can be.

"It's advice I will always hold onto because of who it came from."

5. Wilson, whose brother Bryce Wilson pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2021-22, was no stranger to Pittsburgh prior to being drafted.

"I came to a few games," said Wilson. "It's one of my favorite cities of all time. Super familiar with the city. Also, super familiar with how much Pittsburgh loves their professional sports teams. Super excited to get there."