Shaun Sarrett may be entering his first season as the offensive line coach of the Steelers, but he’s already made a name for himself.
James Harrison helped see to that before Sarrett had officially joined the Steelers’ staff.
“I’m on my interview and James Harrison, who I played with at Kent State, came in the meeting,” Sarrett explained. “I was sitting in the offensive staff room and I was meeting with Coach (Dick) LeBeau and all them, and (Harrison) came in, he double-looked me and he goes, ‘What the hell is ‘Sweet Feet’ doing here?’ When he said it ‘Coach T’ (Mike Tomlin) grabbed it, he’s like ‘Sweet Feet.’ They found out it was my nickname in college. Believe it or not I actually had really good feet in college, I could go through bags really fast and one of the defensive guys called me ‘Sweet Feet.’ And Harrison, after all these years not seeing me, that’s how he remembered me. He saw my face and was like, ‘Oh, there’s Sweet Feet.’
“It kinda stuck.”
Sarrett eventually got the job of offensive assistant in 2012 and has worked since under former Steelers offensive line coaches Sean Kugler and Mike Munchak.
That experience, offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner maintained, has smoothed considerably Sarrett’s transition as Munchak’s successor.
The offensive linemen Sarrett has been in charge of since Munchak departed for Denver concur.
“Coach Sarrett has been under ‘Munch’ for the last five years,” guard/center B.J. Finney emphasized. “It’s the same continuity, same stuff, same teachings.
“You guys want to write about something that’s missing? It’s ‘Munch’s’ dry sense of humor, that’s what we’re missing.”
The lines of communication remain open with Munchak, who took over for Kugler as the Steelers’ offensive line coach in 2014.
A recap from the Steelers 2019 minicamp at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex
“We still have a very good relationship,” offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva maintained at the start of OTAs. “We send him videos all the time, sort of like an ex-girlfriend, with the things that he’s missing out here in Pittsburgh.
“His one-liners were always pretty epic.”
Sarrett described Munchak as “a drawing guy, he would show the drawings and kind of go through stuff.”
Sarrett has modernized the dissemination of information to an extent, but still perceives Munchak as a resource if needed, as “a guy I look up to and still look up to, to this day.
“If I have a problem I’m going to lean on him, I’m going to call him,” Sarrett said. “He’s been great to me, great through the transition.”
In the meantime, guard David DeCastro sees Sarrett as a guy who has been able to successfully navigate the transition, as a guy who inspires because he’s willing to put in the required time and effort.
“He’s been here the same time I’ve been here, all seven years of it,” DeCastro said. “I’ve been with him a long time, got a lot of respect for him.
“He’s a grinder. He watches a lot of film, puts a lot of time in and he cares. When you see a guy work that hard you respect that and you want to play for a guy like that.”
Sarrett hasn’t been in charge of a position since beginning his post-playing career as the offensive and defensive line coach at Streetsboro (Ohio) High School in 2004.
But he’s as excited and appreciative about the veteran group he’s inherited from Munchak and the coaches he’s been with and continues to work with on the Steelers’ staff as the Steelers’ offensive linemen are to have Sarrett calling the shots.
“It’s working with the people I’m working with, they make it easy,” Sarrett said. “Our offensive coordinator, Randy Fichtner, has a vision and we’re going to stick to that vision and I love every second of it.
“And being able to work under ‘Munch’ the past five years, it’s put me in the position where I’m ready to take it.”