When third-round draft pick Javon Hargrave, the defensive tackle from South Carolina State, left Pittsburgh last week after a quick visit following the NFL Draft, he departed with a handful of new Steelers gear, but something even more important. He left with a playbook in his hand, something to look at in the days that led up to this weekend's rookie minicamp.
"My playbook has been my best friend this week, just trying to get accustomed to it," said Hargrave. "It's just like freshman year all over again, trying to prove your worth."
Hargrave hit the ground running on Friday with his fellow rookies, taking part in the first of three days of minicamp. It was something he had looked forward to from the moment he got the phone call from the Steelers, wanting to go out and show the coaches firsthand what he is capable of.
"I am versatile. I can play the run, rush the passer," said Hargrave. "I can do a little bit of everything. I am not one dimensional. I have a lot to work on, but a lot to bring. I am coming to compete every day. I think I can help the team win and improve. I am going to come in and as work hard as I can."
The hope is that Hargrave can be added to the mix on the defensive line this year, taking some reps and giving guys like Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt much needed breathers as a pass rusher in nickle and dime defenses.
"Nobody is coming here to just sit around," said Hargrave. "Of course I am coming here to learn quickly and be out there with those guys and contribute. All my life that is all I did. In high school I played both ways. I played all the snaps. Coming from South Carolina State, they didn't take me off the field. I was an every down player."
Coming from South Carolina State, a smaller Division I school, Hargrave also knows he still has something to prove, and he plans on doing that.
"In high school I played lower level, so everyone slept on me," said Hargrave. "I played with a chip on my shoulder, proving myself everywhere I go.
"It's just hearing people saying you can't do something. You know you can do it. It lit the fire in me. I wanted to prove it to myself and them."
Hargrave has the perfect example to look at of someone who came from South Carolina State to have success in the NFL in former Steelers safety Donnie Shell. Shell went from undrafted rookie free agent to having an incredible 14-year career.
"He is a South Carolina State legend," said Hargrave. "He is a Pittsburgh Steelers legend. If he can do it, I can do it. That is what he did for me, gave me that belief, just seeing him make it that far."