For much of his career with the University of Florida, safety Donovan Stiner had often been criticized for his weaknesses, while being overshadowed by eventual NFL players in the secondary such as C.J. Henderson or Marco Wilson.
Being overlooked was nothing new to Stiner. Coming out of Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas, he was a mid-tier three-star prospect. Despite being criticized for his lack of physicality and tackling skills, it did not stop Stiner from becoming an integral part of the Gators secondary and special teams unit.
In his junior year, Stiner led his team with four interceptions while adding 29 tackles and one pass defended. Yet for everything that can be said about Stiner, he was known for making big plays in big moments.
The most notable one came against Auburn on October 5th, 2019. In the third quarter, with the Gators up 17-13, the Tigers quarterback Bo Nix completed a 46-yard pass to receiver Seth Williams, placing them at the Gators' 15-yard line and on the cusp of taking the lead.
On 3rd-and-12, with the Gators needing a stop, Nix threw a strike intended for receiver Sal Cannella, only to have it intercepted by Stiner. From that point onwards, the Gators took control of the game and would go on to win 24-13. It was the type of play his coaches and teammates had seen him do multiple times in his career.
With the Pittsburgh Steelers needing quality depth in their secondary unit, this year's training camp may give Stiner the opportunity show he is worthy of a spot on the roster. No matter how many times he has been doubted, he has shown that he can rise to the occasion when it is least expected.