Zumwalt: 'It was very surreal'


Leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft, Steelers players and coaches will be sharing their Draft Day Memories, from the time they went to the NFL Scouting Combine, through the moment they were drafted. And in some cases players will share what it was like when neither of those things happened. In this installment, Jordan Zumwalt shares his story.

Jordan Zumwalt – Sixth Round – 2014 – UCLA

"The combine is a big deal, because it was my entire life summed up to that moment. As a kid growing up you are playing football for fun, but at some point you realize you could play in the NFL, you could be one of those guys. Everything starts with the NFL Combine. It's the sum of everything prior to that specific moment so there is a lot of pressure.

"It's really cool to have all of the NFL coaches and scouts there. There is definitely a lot of pressure, you can feel it, and you can see it in people's faces. I thought it was a neat event. Those are the people you have seen growing up on television. Those are people you see on game day. Those are the people you want to have watch you. It was a really cool experience to have them watch you.

"I took a visit after the combine to Pittsburgh. I got to meet the staff, met a bunch of people and saw the facilities. It was like a meet and greet type of thing. Of course you are nervous, but you are so excited, that is why you are nervous. It was awesome. I thought it was really cool. I wanted to play here. Before I ever came here I wanted to play here because I understand the type of mentality this team has.

"You can feel the history when you walk into the room where the Super Bowl trophies are. It's all right there for everybody to see. It's powerful to see. I have never been a part of anything like that before. It takes so much to win one of those trophies from everybody. Looking in and seeing six and knowing nobody else has six of them is cool.

"I had a pro day and it wasn't as unnerving as the combine. We had coaches from every team there. It was just as viewed as the combine.

"The draft. The three-day-draft process. Oh man. I knew I wasn't going on the first day, but between day two and day three I had no idea where I was going. Day one I went to my buddy Anthony Barr's draft party. We went and celebrated him because he was a top pick and it was exciting for him.

"When my turn came I took everybody down to the beach, my whole family, we took down our motor home. We set up the televisions and had our friends and family. We had a bonfire. I didn't get drafted, but that was okay. Everyone was happy to be there and be a part of it.

"Then day three came and I was like 'Mom, can we not have everyone over.' I just wanted to relax. It's too much when everyone is asking questions and has their opinion and I didn't want to hear opinions. I just wanted them to let me be. I secluded myself from everybody that day. I just sat there with my phone, looking at it, like are you kidding me, why have I not been picked yet. Everybody goes through that.

Photos of Sixth-Round Draft Pick linebacker Jordan Zumwalt from UCLA.

"Finally I was sitting on my couch and my phone rang. It was '412' number and I didn't know what it was. I answered and they asked if I wanted to be a part of the Steelers. I was like …. Aaaaaahhhhh. Everything finally built up to that moment and the frustration of not being picked was completely forgotten as soon as I got that phone call. It was overwhelming for everybody. My mom cried, my dad cried. People were popping champagne. I didn't have any tears. I didn't let it happen. It's really emotional. Maybe not for everybody, but it was one of those moments for me.

"I remember talking to Coach (Mike) Tomlin. It was like what, I am on the phone with Coach Tomlin and he wants me to be on his team. It was very surreal.

"I was on the phone and peeked in the house to see if I could catch my name on television. That is the moment. That is a very cool moment.

"Afterwards I was thinking finally; when do I get started. Mom let's go pack my bags, I am out of here. You learn about the team, the history, who they have as players.

"In fifth grade I gave a speech. Everyone had to say what they want to do when they get older. I said I want to be an NFL player and walked away. That is why it was emotional for me. I planned a lot of things in my life to make sure I don't squander this opportunity."

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