'I feel like I'm at home'

It became apparent as the play was unfolding that a bootleg pass thrown on the run was going to be off target.

Safety Dravon Askew-Henry knew instinctively how the play needed to end.

“Just reading the quarterback’s eyes and I saw he threw it kind of high,” Askew-Henry explained. “I knew I had to come down with it, so I did.

“I tried to score, but unfortunately it didn’t go like that.”

Askew-Henry, an undrafted free agent from West Virginia and Aliquippa, Pa., got his interception but came up short of the pick-six he was seeking.

Still, he felt like a Steeler.

On the second day of rookie minicamp, that was enough.

“I knew this was where I wanted to be,” Askew-Henry insisted. “The whole of Aliquippa is Steelers fans, you grow into it.

“If I was undrafted, I already knew where I wanted to go. This is my home. I grew up a Steelers fan. I have family that stayed here in Pittsburgh. I feel like I’m at home.”

The interception on the second day of rookie minicamp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex confirmed as much, even if Askew-Henry couldn’t quite make it to the end zone, as one of the first of the Steelers heroes he can remember might have.

“I’ve always been a big (Troy) Polamalu fan growing up, watching him,” Askew-Henry said. “Being that I’m a defensive back, I always tried to mirror what he did.

Steelers' rookies take the field for rookie minicamp

“The plays he made were just crazy, you can’t coach that.”

An interception in May pales in comparison.

Still, you have to start somewhere.

Askew-Henry (6-foot, 202 pounds) has gotten an opportunity to take it from here despite not being invited to the Senior Bowl or the NFL Scouting Combine, and despite a knee injury that temporarily derailed his career at West Virginia.

He is driven, in part, by his love for the Steelers.

And by the tradition established by those who have previously made it from Aliquippa High School to the NFL, a tradition that dates back to Mike Ditka.

“Ty Law, Darrelle Revis (Askew-Henry’s cousin), Sean Gilbert, I can go all the way down the list,” Askew-Henry said.

Had he done so, Askew-Henry might have included Jonathan Baldwin and Tommie Campbell.

Baldwin, Ditka, Gilbert, Law and Revis were all first-round draft picks.

Ditka is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Law will be enshrined this summer.

“It’s just different there,” Askew-Henry said of Aliquippa, “something they put in the water.”

He’ll have to follow a different path, but Askew-Henry has heard firsthand where it might end and how he may yet get there.

“They stay in touch with athletes around our way,” he said. “I’ve talked to all of them. They say, ‘Let’s go, keep that hunger in you and that chip on your shoulder,’ which I am.

“I’m going to give the Pittsburgh Steelers, the organization everything I got, just like I would Aliquippa or as I did at West Virginia.”

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