The smile on Kenny Pickett's face was hard to hide as he stood in the media room at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex as he was officially introduced to the Pittsburgh media for the first time … as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers that is.
Pickett is no stranger to anyone in Pittsburgh after spending his college career at the University of Pittsburgh, where he was a Heisman Trophy finalist and led the Panthers to their first ACC Championship.
"We are excited to be able to introduce Kenny to you today," said Steelers President Art Rooney II. "Usually, I get to say to the individual 'welcome to Pittsburgh' and today I get to say, 'welcome to this side of the building.'
"And it's also something for me to be able to say that we drafted somebody who broke all of (former Pitt quarterback) Dan Marino's records in college is pretty special. You all know the number of awards that Kenny has won, Heisman Trophy finalist. But of course, you know team goals are the ones that count, and Kenny led his team to a championship this season. And that's what we're looking for here to win a championship."
As great a feeling as it was for Rooney to be able to introduce Pickett, for Pickett it was even a better feeling to become the newest member of the black and gold.
"Coming from right next door, coming into the building I always peeked to the left side, now I'll be calling this place home," said Pickett. "I am incredibly grateful to be here."
For Pickett, being drafted in the NFL is something that has been a life-long dream, something that the kid from New Jersey thought about when he first picked up a football.
"I always knew. This was always the dream," said Pickett. "I've envisioned it since I was five years old. It was incredibly special. Obviously, I was overcome with emotion last night having my family there, my dad and that's really why I wanted to be back in New Jersey. My grandparents were there. Everyone that played a part in helping me get here was there. It was an awesome moment."
Since he was drafted, Pickett's phone has lit up with text messages and phone calls from former and new teammates, including Mitch Trubisky and Mason Rudolph, the two players he will join in the Steelers quarterback's room.
"I got a few texts from some of my new teammates now and that was really special," said Pickett. "Appreciate those guys reaching out and kind of welcoming me in. I'm excited to get to work here.
"(Mitch and Mason) both reached out. And I actually told Mitch, I don't know if he remembered it, but senior year (of high school) he called me, he was trying to recruit me to North Carolina. It goes kind of full circle. Two great guys. I'm really looking forward to working with them."
Pickett, who admitted he was going on only about two or three hours of sleep, said while he heard a lot of talk about the Steelers interest in him that you never know how the draft will play out.
"Going through the process you really don't know to be honest," said Pickett. "You hear a lot of different things. I just want to put my best foot forward in any situation that I was in. I felt like I did that. And you know, incredibly happy to be here.
"It's special. It's really special. And I have a lot of friendships. I know a lot of people here from playing at Pitt and being here for five years. So, the fact that I'm starting my pro career here is really special and I'm looking forward to building new relationships with everybody in the city."
More from Pickett:
On if there is a level of comfort being able to stay here and play at Heinz Field:
"Yeah, like you said there's comfort but there's a job at hand and I know what I have to do. I know how to go about my business so I'm really excited to be here. That first game back in Heinz Field instead of being in blue and gold, it'll be black and gold, I am really excited for that."
On what he is most looking forward to now being a Steeler:
"Probably just getting to work. I've known Coach (Matt) Canada for a long time, and I finally get to play for him. That was the first thing we talked about on the phone. It's fulfilling my dream and once this wears off here in a couple of hours, and I can kind of just soak it in, enjoy it and then get to the get to the playbook part and learn that and kind of just obsess over being the best I can be."
On how he has matured since being at Pitt:
"Yeah, I mean, I got engaged. That was a big moment. I'm really excited for Amy to come out here now and live out here with me, and really enjoy the city together. So, I think there's a lot of things that changed throughout the five years at Pitt. And you know, like you're evolving as a player, you're evolving as a person as well. So, I'm excited to kind of start this next chapter here with her."
On his decision to come back to Pitt for a fifth season and how it paid off:
"This is where I wanted to be when I made that decision to come back, I set out to do it. I had great support from my coaches and my teammates. I knew we had a really special group, there at Pitt. If I came back, I felt like we had a great shot to win a championship and that's exactly what we did. And when you win championships, things kind of fall in line for you know, the individuals on the team. So, this is exactly where you know, I thought I would be."