Coming out of high school, Senquez Golson took a gamble. He was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball Draft and offered over a $1 million signing bonus. What would most high school students do with that kind of money in front of them? They would likely jump at the offer. What did Golson do? He said no thank you.
Instead of heading off to the minors to work on his craft, with the potential of one day playing at Fenway Park, he went to Ole Miss to still pursue baseball, but other dreams as well.
It paid off. Golson, a cornerback at Ole Miss, was drafted by the Steelers in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft.
"I took a million dollar gamble to go to school, play football, play baseball and get an education," said Golson. "It was not about the money, but to go in the second round and be selected by the Steelers, it's a blessing, doing what I love to do. I took a gamble and came out with something extra.
"I have never regretted turning down that money. I wanted to play football. This is what I love to do. Football is what I love to do."
Golson played one season of college baseball at Ole Miss, and it was that season that convinced him football was the right choice.
"My deciding factor not to play came when I asked myself what I could see me doing every day," said Golson. "We played 50 some games in college baseball and after 40 of them I was getting tired and that didn't include postseason play. Then you go minors and pros and it's 100 plus games you play. I didn't think I was passionate enough for it.
"Football, I could play year round, I could play football every day. There is something about football that I love. Football is a passion that burns in me."
That being said, he is in a city where football is definitely something people are passionate about. From the moment Coach Mike Tomlin called him on the second night of the draft saying, "We are going to take you right here," to Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount announcing his selection on the stage at the draft in Chicago, he felt the passion Pittsburgh has for the Steelers.
"The fans are wild," said Golson, who admitted his father Anthony Golson is a Green Bay Packers fan who soon will be converted to a Steelers fan. "They are passionate about their players. They are passionate about football. You can't ask for a better city, a better football town. I'm glad to be with such a great organization like the Steelers."
Golson played four seasons for the Ole Miss Rebels, finishing his career with 136 tackles and 16 interceptions, third-most in school history. He had 10 interceptions his senior season and was a unanimous first-team All-America selection and one of the five finalists for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy for the nation's top collegiate defensive back.
Steelers' rookies take the field for Rookie Minicamp.
"That's my biggest thing. I just like to make plays," said Golson. "I just like to put that ball into the quarterback's hands as many times as I can. That's my mind set as a defensive player."
The one knock people have given Golson is his size. At 5-9, 176, it can be a difficult matchup going against some of the bigger receivers in the game, but it doesn't faze Golson. While he knows covering bigger receivers is something he needs to work on, he also knows it's something he can handle.
"It just takes some work," said Golson. "Once I get a feel for a guy and know what I need to do to go after bigger receivers, I don't think that I will have a problem with it. I've guarded a lot of the big receivers in the past.
"I don't work just to prove people wrong. I work for my potential. I know that I've got a lot of room to improve in some areas. I think that is what drives me. Just knowing that I can be better. I'm just going to show everybody that I can play."
Golson is getting his first taste of the NFL this weekend at the Steelers rookie minicamp, a three day process that introduces them to the Steelers and the playbook without veterans present.
"I am just ready to dig into that playbook and get started," said Golson. "It's been a while since I have been on the field playing and practicing. The playbook will take time. Everything takes time. I think I will learn it over time. I have to figure a couple of ways to learn it fast, I will ask questions, I will make mistakes. I just have to get it right in the end.
"I am ready to work on this craft. Ready to get better."