There has been a noticeable trend happening with players from Florida Atlantic University.
Since 2010, the Owl program has produced a total of 23 players that have gone
on to play at some point in the NFL. Considering their football program has only been in existence since 2001, that is an impressive number; a number that is destined to increase in the upcoming season.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they have become familiar with players from this program. Last season, the Steelers acquired running back/kick returner Kerrith Whyte Jr. from the Bears practice squad. Following this year's NFL Draft, they signed defensive back James Pierre, a player who was a late bloomer during his time with the Owls.
Coming into this year's training camp, there were few expectations for Pierre to succeed; making the practice squad would have been considered a victory. Yet with every training camp session, Pierre continued to develop and improve. By the midpoint of training camp, Pierre has emerged as one of their top overall performers.
Even with the distinction of being the only Steelers UDFA this year to make the active roster, has not stopped Pierre from achieving more personal success. This season, he has been prominently featured on special teams, playing in 131 snaps and accounting for six tackles. Even with the few snaps on defense so far this season, Pierre has contributed seven total tackles, one of them for a loss.
Last year's third round pick Justin Layne has been perceived by many as the possible successor to veteran Joe Haden. Yet, despite playing in far more snaps than Pierre, he has produced the same amount of tackles, with fewer splash plays.
As Pierre continues to develop his overall game, there have been no indications of him seeming out of place. In the same manner which he made a name for himself during training camp, Pierre has all the potential of earning more playing time on defense down the stretch and play a bigger role in their success.