In many ways, Robert Spillane was destined to be a Pittsburgh Steeler.
Long before he was born, his grandfather, the late Johnny Lattner, was drafted by the team in 1954, where he played just one year at fullback and earned a spot in the Pro Bowl.
Spillane himself has yet to establish the type of success his grandfather earned in one season, but if all goes according to plan, he may have the opportunity to prove his value in the NFL.
Before joining the Tennessee Titans as an undrafted free agent in 2018, Spillane was a standout linebacker with the Western Michigan Broncos. In his last two collegiate seasons, he averaged over 99 total tackles with ten of them going for loss. After being waived by the Titans in October 2018, he was signed almost a year later by the Steelers to their practice squad.
Last preseason, Spillane was released from the team, then signed to the practice squad the following day. After being released again in September 2019, he would be re-signed a little over a month later, where he would eventually be promoted to the team's active roster on November 2019, after rookie linebacker Ulysees Gilbert III was placed on the team's Injured Reserve list. In his five appearances last season, Spillane contributed 11 total tackles, and proved to be a reliable addition to one of the best defensive units in the NFL.
If patience and resilience were prerequisites to gaining a roster spot, Spillane would have been more than qualified long ago. With the roster noticeably thin at the linebacker position, this could be the year where he can become a more regular contributor on defense. Although nothing is guaranteed, one can be assured that Spillane will do what it takes to make it happen.