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Roche brings a 'disruptive' mentality

As he was finishing up his zoom press conference shortly after being selected by the Steelers in the sixth round, Quincy Roche let a little secret out of the bag.

He grew up a Ravens fan, in a house filled with Ravens fans.

Now don't be mad at him. The minute he heard Coach Mike Tomlin's voice on the other end of the phone telling him the Steelers were drafting him in the sixth round, his loyalties immediately changed.

"We're not going to be Ravens fans anymore," said Roche. "They can watch them when I am not there. But I am pretty sure they are all Steelers fans now."

Roche wasted no time working on that conversion. He received a box of Terrible Towels from the Steelers following the draft, that he promptly handed out to his family. In addition, Roche had a friend who is a lifelong Steelers fan drop some towels off to his house just hours after he was drafted.

"He came by the house after I was drafted and dropped some gear off," said Roche. "That was nice. That was convenient. I have been walking around with a Terrible Towel since then.

"Everyone here has embraced it. They liked it. Everyone supports me and respects that I got drafted."

And getting that call from Tomlin was something that Roche embraced. Having to wait for Day 3 of the draft wasn't easy. Sitting and waiting and waiting and waiting is stressful on players, and when that call comes, it all changes.

"It's a huge weight lifted off your shoulder. It's a blessing too. A dream come true," said Roche. "A great feeling. Especially for me, being a Day 3 guy. It's a long three days. I tried to ignore calls unless they were coming from a team. It was a game of sitting and waiting and seeing what happens. It's a huge blessing and I am ready to get to work."

Take a look at photos of the Pittsburgh Steelers sixth-round pick LB Quincy Roche

Part of getting to work means bringing his 'disruptive' mentality to the defense, something he has been doing since he started playing football. Roche, who finished the 2020 season at Miami with 45 tackles, including 14.5 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, knows every play, every stop matters.

"That is the mentality I have been groomed to have from when I first started learning the fundamentals of football early in my career," said Roche. "It's not all about sacks all of the time. Don't get me wrong, sacks are important. But if you can get tackles on special teams, tackles for a loss, if you can force the ball out of the ball carrier's hands, the quarterback's hands, those things are more important than sacks. It's about being disruptive as much as possible, batting the pass down. Not every game is going to be a three-sack game. You might have two pass defenses, three tackles for a loss, instead of 3 sacks. Some games it might be a blocked kick and 10 tackles and no sacks. those are huge momentum swingers. They help the team a lot. They bring momentum and energy to the team. I try not to get caught up in sacks, sacks, sacks. Just be disruptive."

One area where life isn't as disruptive these days for Roche is how he is dealing with something he has had to battle since he was a kid, Tourette syndrome. It's a nervous system disorder that involves repetitive movements or unwanted sounds that can't be easily controlled, and while there is no cure, there are treatments for it.

"It's not something you can just get rid of," said Roche. "I will have it my whole life. You get better at dealing with it. It gave me an advantage in sports because I am able to focus the way other people can't. You are forced to.

"Instead of taking medicine, I used techniques and exercises I learned to overcome. Breathing exercises, focusing. I used to do a lot of things with my hands. I used to build a lot of things growing up. You learn how to control your thoughts, your mind and what is going on in your body. You become more self-aware. It's not easy at all.

"It's a lot harder when you are younger. It's something they say you can grow out of, but you just grow through experience. It's something you grow to be able to live with it."