Shady Side Academy grad signs with Steelers
Mike Farrell, a 2008 Shady Side Academy graduate, was hoping to hear his name called in last week's NFL draft after a successful career as an offensive lineman for Penn State University.
His name wasn't called but maybe the next best thing happened.
On Saturday, the hometown Pittsburgh Steelers called him and signed him as a free agent.
“I was a little surprised,” Farrell said. “I hadn't gotten much feedback from the Steelers once our season ended. It was exciting to hear from them.
“I had to then look at it from a business perspective.”
Farrell said he had heard from other teams and had to weigh his options to determine what he thought was the best fit.
“I had to decide where I thought I would have the best shot at making it,” Farrell said. “The fact that the Steelers didn't draft any offensive linemen made the choice easier.”
Though disappointed that he didn't get drafted, Farrell was not totally shocked.
“Realistically, I knew I had an outside shot at best,” he said. “I watched the late rounds of the draft and figured that I would get a shot as a free agent and that I would make the most of the opportunity.”
He thinks he performed well at the pre-draft workouts and combines.
“I wasn't intimidated by all of the projected first round offensive linemen there,” Farrell said. “I was confident. The Big 10 has a lot of outstanding offensive linemen and I was a starter on a Big 10 team.”
Farrell believes that playing under former NFL coach Bill O'Brien last year improved his stock.
“NFL teams saw my background and playing in an NFL style offense was a nice foundation,” he said. “I worked hard to grasp his offensive scheme and learn what my job was on each and every play. It helped me to become more versatile. I had a complete understanding of the new offense and I gained consistency. I believe that will help me when mini-camp opens.”
Being a native Pittsburgher may cause some problems for Farrell if he makes the team.
“I'll need a lot of game tickets,” he said. “I've got a lot of family and so many friends that have given me a lot of support.
“They've been awesome.”
Marty Stewart is a sports editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-782-2123 or firstname.lastname@example.org.