As they walked through the front door of the Steelers offices at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex on Thursday afternoon, it finally hit home for many Steelers rookies.
After almost a week of well-wishes and congratulations from family and friends for being the newest members of the black and gold, it was time to go to work as they arrived for rookie mini-camp.
"I thought I was still in a dream and then it finally hit me," said running back Chris Rainey, the team's fifth-round draft pick out of Florida. "It finally hit me when I got here, looking at the locker room, all of the pictures. It's a dream come true and I am ready to play."
For some of the rookies it was the first time walking into the team's practice facility, while other rookies made pre-draft visits to the team, and the top three picks David DeCastro, Mike Adams and Sean Spence came in for the team's Fan Blitz last Saturday.
But for everyone it was still the same reaction, because now they are here to play football.
"Last weekend when I came here it was cool to see some of the new faces," said Adams. "Then to come in and actually have guys from the team here, guys I work with now, it's a bit of a reality check.
"I have been waiting to get here for rookie camp. Now that I am here I am excited to get started."
There was some business to get out of the way for the players on Thursday, from a stop in the equipment room to get fit for a helmet, gloves and more, checking in with the athletic trainers, getting their head shot taken and then a look around the locker room to get comfortable with their new surroundings.
"It is reality. I am here, getting ready for work," said tackle Kelvin Beachum, one of the seventh round draft picks. "I am really happy to be here. I want to get acclimated. I came here for a pre-draft visit. This is the real thing. I need to get acclimated to do what I need to do to make the 53-man roster."
The team will hold five practices over the weekend, with it just being the rookies and some first-year players taking part.
"Having guys who are going through the same thing take part is an advantage," said Adams. "We are all in the same boat. We are all going through the same thing. It's great to get in here and meet the guys and get to work with them."
And while many of the rookies are anxious to get on the field with the veterans, they like that their first practices will have everyone on the same level as far as being familiar with the offensive and defensive systems.
"It won't be like it is when the veterans are here," said wide receiver Toney Clemons, also taken in the seventh round. "It's good to go out there with guys that have the same sense of nervousness, but confidence that they belong on this level. We get to bond together, push each other and encourage each other."