‘Dream come true’ playing for Steelers for Chartiers Valley, Duquesne alum Christian Kuntz
Christian Kuntz took a few moments to look around during on-field stretches at Heinz Field on Saturday.
“I did a couple extra turns to look around and see everything,” Kuntz said of the pregame for the Pittsburgh Steelers game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
“It was pretty cool being on the (field) for a game rather than being in Section 501.”
A Chartiers Valley grad and Duquesne alum, Kuntz on Saturday was less than 72 hours into his tenure with his the team he grew up rooting for. Don’t tell the outside linebacker that preseason games are boring or meaningless.
“Even as a preseason game, I felt like it was loud as heck,” Kuntz said. “It was louder than Duquesne’s field, that’s for sure — a lot more. I’ve sat here for AFC wild-card games and watched these guys come out of the tunnel and thought, ‘Oh man, that’s sweet.’ So coming out of the tunnel myself … It was pretty cool, a dream come true.”
So was wearing No. 99 in the familiar black and gold. Kuntz said he had one of those in the bedroom closet of the house he grew up in off of Greentree Road.
“I probably have to switch that from ‘KEISEL’ to ‘KUNTZ’ now,” Kuntz said.
“People asked me what number I was wearing. ‘Oh my gosh, you have to live up to that now.’”
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For now, Kuntz isn’t worried about matching the standard of a two-time Super Bowl winner as much as he is just trying to immerse himself in the playbook and trying his best to impress the coaching staff. Signed on Aug. 15, Kuntz played 18 defensive snaps late in the Steelers’ preseason win two days later.
Kuntz admits he was just “thrown in there” and didn’t grasp the defense (“I’m not gonna complain,” he said). Kuntz looked to the sidelines to a helpful Bud Dupree to signal what his assignment was for each play.
“He’s local, and he told me he had a lot of people at the game,” Dupree said, “so I was like, ‘I want to make you look good.’”
Kuntz did not register any statistics, but he did get pressure on Chiefs quarterback Chase Litton at times.
Playing for the hometown NFL team? Not a bad Saturday night for Kuntz — especially considering just three evenings prior, he was leaving Indianapolis without a contract after working out for the Colts.
At least he was able to squeeze in dinner with longtime friend T.J. McConnell, the Indiana Pacers guard with whom Kuntz won a WPIAL basketball title with at Chartiers Valley.
Kuntz seems to recognize as a late camp signee, the odds are against him making the Steelers’ roster or practice squad. But he did spend three weeks with the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad late last season after spending summer workouts with the Denver Broncos (the latter as a long snapper — a position he worked at some this week for the Steelers).
“I’m just going to take it day by day and hope I’m here the next day,” Kuntz said. “And just play my butt off.
“I’ll do whatever it is I have to do to make the team. Especially here, at a place like home.”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .