Starkey: The Steelers' mystery speed merchant
TribLIVE Sports Videos
Football in shorts means nothing. I get that. Forty-yard dash times in shorts mean even less.
But when a man negotiates those 40 yards in 4.22 seconds, he will raise eyebrows — especially when his resume already shows he had more 100-yard kickoff-return touchdowns (five) than anyone who played major college football.
So yes, Utah's Reggie Dunn is a player to track as the Steelers wind toward training camp. Just don't blink.
Can he do anything but return kicks?
No idea. He mentioned he saw time as a gunner in college and knows how to tackle. But that was after he mentioned 4.22, so I'm not even sure I heard it right.
Will his kick-return prowess translate at this level?
Again, sorry … but 4.22.
Will the Steelers make room for a one-trick pony, if indeed Dunn is that?
Not sure (4.22).
That ridiculous number, by the way, is Chris Johnson-fast and would have made Dunn the fastest wideout at the NFL Combine, if only he'd been invited. I wondered if it was one of those “agent” runs they talk about, or perhaps wind-aided.
Dunn directed me to YouTube, and sure enough, it's there, for all to see, at Utah's pro day. And even if 4.22 isn't his norm, anything below 4.3 is pretty sick.
“The official times they brought to the scouts and turned into the NFL were 4.22 and 4.26,” Dunn explained. “Actually, the coaches here the other day had me at 4.29.”
Still, Dunn knows it wasn't so much the 40-yard dash as a series of 100-yard dashes that got him his NFL shot. Over his final five collegiate games, he had four 100-yard-plus TD returns, including two against Cal, which might explain his Twitter handle: @ReggieDunn100.
The last time he touched an NCAA-inscribed football, Dunn sprinted the length of the field with it. Colorado had just returned a fourth-quarter kickoff for a touchdown and was still celebrating when Reggie went one-and-Dunn a final time, scoring the winning points in a 42-35 victory.
“I hadn't touched the ball the whole game,” he said. “For some reason, they kicked it to me.”
It is a bit puzzling that Dunn wasn't more involved in Utah's offense. He had just 25 combined runs and catches his senior year. He didn't even return punts, prompting speculation that he couldn't catch them.
“I wasn't able to (return punts) at Utah for different reasons,” he said, cryptically. “But if you come out here and watch me, you can obviously see I can catch the ball.”
If Dunn fails, it won't be for a lack of reverence for the franchise that signed him as an undrafted free agent. He says he grew up a Steelers fan in Compton, Calif., because his father, Reggie Dunn Sr., is a friend of former Steelers star Louis Lipps. The two hail from the same area of New Orleans.
“I can remember when Plaxico Burress was a rookie, when Tommy Maddox was here, when Kordell Stewart was here,” Dunn said. “All those guys — Jerome Bettis, Willie Parker. It's crazy that I'm on the same field and in the same facility.
“When I got that call from Coach Tomlin saying, ‘We want you to return kicks for us. Come to camp and show us what you can do,' I wasn't going to turn that down.”
A solid 5-foot-10, 178 pounds, Dunn is no giant. But he doesn't deserve the ever-present “diminutive” title, either.
“When I got here, Coach Tomlin said, ‘I thought you were smaller,' ” Dunn said. “I was like, ‘Looks can be deceiving.' ”
So can 40 times. But at the very least, you have to be intrigued.
The Steelers sure are.
Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 FM. His columns appear Thursdays and Sundays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- NFL notebook: Woodland Hills product Miles undergoes emergency surgery
- Steelers notebook: Polamalu, Taylor unlikely to play, Harrison ‘ready’
- Pitt: Football coach hire comes 1st, athletic director 2nd
- Michigan State defensive coordinator a Pitt coaching candidate
- Pirates sign Corey Hart to 1-year deal
- Penguins’ defensive depth proves valuable
- Pittsburgh adjusting to new bicycle lane, ‘stop boxes’
- Undersized Beachum quietly excels at 1 of game’s pivotal positions
- Some in Western Pa. affected by Staples data breach
- Man involved with crash with officer dies in Pittsburgh hospital
- Penguins notebook: Kunitz ‘really close’ to return