It’s something that seems to happen every year. A group of players come to Steelers’ rookie minicamp looking to catch the eyes of the coaches, looking to make an impression as they are there strictly on a tryout basis, no promises and no guarantees. And there are always a few players who stand out, who do what they set out to do by making enough of an impact to not head home when the three-day minicamp ends.
This year there were several young players that caught the attention of the coaches and they were signed by the team.
Quarterback Devlin Hodges, defensive tackle Greg Gilmore, defensive end Henry Mondeaux, offensive lineman Damian Prince and linebacker Tuzar Skipper made the most of the weekend to end up on the team’s current roster.
Hodges, who played at Samford, set a single-season school record with 4,283 yards passing last season, breaking his own record set in 2016. He won the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the top offensive player in FCS football. Hodges also won the SoCon Offensive Player of the Year for the third straight year.
Hodges, who attended the New York Giants rookie minicamp the week after the draft, finished his college career with 14,584 passing yards.
Gilmore, who played at LSU, signed with the Steelers as an undrafted rookie free agent following the 2018 NFL Draft. He was released when the team cut the roster down to 53 players. Gilmore was with the Memphis Express in the now defunct AAF this offseason.
At LSU he had 104 tackles, 10 sacks, and two pass defenses, while starting for two seasons. He had his best season his senior year when he had 53 tackles and a team-high seven and a half sacks.
Mondeaux, who played at the University of Oregon, originally signed with the New Orleans Saints following the 2018 NFL Draft. He was with the Saints during training camp but waived on the final roster cut before the regular season. Mondeaux was signed to the Saints practice squad before the last game of the 2018 season.
While at Oregon, Mondeaux won the school’s Tough Man Award, presented to a player for his ‘Will to Win.’ His senior year he started 13 games, finishing with 45 tackles, six for a loss, and five sacks. He had a career-high eight tackles against Arizona, and added another career-high with two sacks against Cal.
Prince played college ball at Maryland with seventh-round draft pick Derwin Gray. He started nine games his senior season, and led all returning tackles in the Big Ten, allowing just eight quarterback pressures.
Prince and Gray both helped to block for the 17th best rushing offense in the country at Maryland last year, averaging 230.2 yards per game.
Skipper, who attended the Kansas City Chiefs rookie minicamp the previous week on a tryout basis, played collegiately at Toledo with third-round pick Diontae Johnson, as well as second-year linebacker Ola Adeniyi.
Skipper was named third-team All-MAC his senior season and tied for third on the team with 60 tackles. He led Toledo with eight and a half sacks, fifth overall in the MAC. He also had 11.5 tackles for a loss, second on the team. He finished his Toledo career with 90 tackles and nine and a half sacks, after transferring from Monroe Junior College.
The Steelers also signed receiver Johnny Holton, giving them added depth at the position.
Holton signed a reserve/futures contract with the Philadelphia Eagles in January, but was released when the team needed to make room to sign undrafted rookie free agents following this year’s draft.
The speedy receiver entered the NFL as an undrafted rookie free agent, signing with the Oakland Raiders following the 2016 NFL Draft. He was released by the Raiders before the start of the 2018 season, and re-signed to the practice squad. He was activated for one game last season, before heading back to the practice squad.
Holton has 11 receptions for 252 yards and three touchdowns in 11 games. He also has six carries for 43 yards.
He played college football at Cincinnati, where he had 17 receptions for 461 yards and five touchdowns his senior season.
To make room on the roster for the new additions, the team released linebacker Keion Adams, defensive end Jay Hayes, defensive tackle Chris Nelson, offensive lineman R.J. Prince, quarterback Brogan Roback and wide receiver Ka’Raun White.
Steelers' rookies take the field for rookie minicamp