For some of them, it was the first time they ever walked into the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. For others, they had been there before, either for a pre-draft visit or during draft weekend.
But for all of them it was the beginning of a new adventure, a new chapter in their lives.
“I have been getting asked by people since the draft, what’s it feel like? Does it feel real?” said Zach Gentry, the tight end from Michigan the Steelers took in the fifth round. “It hadn’t hit me yet. I think today it finally hit me, being in the building, being around the other guys. It’s go-time tomorrow.
“I am excited. I am stoked to get out there and show what I have. I am very excited about it.”
It was arrival day for the Steelers rookie class on Thursday, a day to settle in and learn where everything is before the team’s three-day minicamp kicks off on Friday.
The Steelers 2019 rookies arrived at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex in preparation for rookie minicamp
“I can’t wait to show the coaches what I can do, just compete and get better,” said Justin Layne, the third-round pick from Michigan State. “It’s kind of crazy. It’s like the first day of high school or college. It’s that nervous feeling. I still think it hasn’t hit me yet. I think it will hit me tomorrow when we get on the field. It’s football. I am ready to get to work.”
There were a lot of hellos and introductions as the draft picks, rookie free agents and those in for a tryout met each other. But the bottom line was they are all ready to get on the field and let football begin.
“I am ready to get on the field and start playing some ball,” said Sutton Smith, a linebacker from Northern Illinois who was taken in the sixth round. “Getting fit for my helmet and having the Steelers logo on the side of my noggin, it’s fun. I can’t wait to go out there and have some fun with it.”
Arrival day wasn’t just about hellos. It was the opportunity to get the details all out of the way. Players were fitted for equipment, were settled into their lockers, met with the athletic training staff and even posed for the camera.
The goal was to take care of all of the business and details before football begins on Friday.
“It’s kind of surreal now that I am here,” said third-round pick Diontae Johnson from Toledo. “I am signed. I don’t have to worry about anything but football. I have been working out. I am excited to show the coaches what I can do.
“I am going to go out there and be myself, show the coaches what I can do. Once we are done with rookie minicamp I can get out there on the field with the veterans as well. That is what I am looking forward to.”