When DeMarvin Leal's phone rang on the second day of the NFL Draft, the first thing the Steelers third-round pick felt was relief because of the stress of waiting to know what his future would be.
"As a family we all decided to step away from the television for a second because it was getting stressful and we went outside by the pool, looking at the sky, talking, having a good time," said Leal. "I was talking to my mom on the couch outside, and out of nowhere I got the phone call and it said Pittsburgh and I automatically knew."
The second thing he felt, was elation because he was about to be drafted by the Steelers, the place he wanted to go.
Yes, NFL players often say that simply because that call coming from an NFL team is the realization that their dream of being selected in the NFL Draft is about to come true.
But for Leal, a defensive end from Texas A & M, that call coming from the Steelers meant even more to him.
That is because of the connection he made with defensive line coach Karl Dunbar leading into the draft.
"It's a dream come true and honestly, just pinch me because it's just so unreal. I was excited because this is the place I wanted to come. It was mainly because of Coach Dunbar that I was excited," said Leal. "He's an amazing coach. I definitely felt like our conversation. It automatically clicked and right away I felt like this is a place I want to play. This is the coach I want to play for.
"When we first talked, we hit it off, talked good ball, and he talked to my family, and I could tell they were interested as well. Talking to all the coaches at the Combine, a day full of meetings, he was special. I'm genuinely excited to be a part of the organization."
While they did talk football, the thing that struck Leal the most was how personal Dunbar made it. He shared his background with Leal, one that included him being a former Steelers draft pick.
"We talked about each other, we talked about family," said Leal. "We talked about our beliefs. I really liked that. He talked about his story, how he's came about, how everything has worked out for him. That's what made it click here. We weren't just talking X's and O's. We were talking football yes, but we were talking family and everything and that is who he is about.
"He talked about what he sees me doing, how he's going to be able to help me develop my game as well. It was unbelievable conversation, and I was excited from it and everything he said I was agreeing with. I was telling him, let's do it."
And now, they get to do it. Leal will join his fellow rookies later this week for the team's rookie minicamp, the first time they will be together on the field.
Leal is looking forward to showing what he can do in minicamp and throughout the offseason program after starting 12 games in 2021, finishing with 8.5 sacks and 12.5 tackles for a loss, leading the Aggies in both categories.
"I bring youth, confidence, I'm extremely disruptive and I'm smart on the field," said Leal. "I am intelligent when it comes to what I see, my instincts and following those, so I feel like that's something to bring to the table."
That intelligence is something he prides himself on, someone who loves watching film and getting in the playbook to continue to learn as much as he can.
"I like watching the little things that people do and how consistent they are," said Leal. "With film, you can slow it down, you can speed it up, you can look at so many different ways and different angles."
One of the main things Leal is going to be doing when OTAs begin, is leaning on veterans like Cameron Heyward, Tyson Alualu and more to pick up every trick of the trade he is going to need in the NFL.
"It's going to be amazing," said Leal. "I want to be a sponge. I want to soak it all in, learn as much wisdom as possible from them guys. I am going to listen to them like big brothers. There's always already a standard here. There's already that culture. I want to be part of this and be trusted and the one way to do that is to listen to those guys."