Outside linebacker Sutton Smith embracing opportunity to play fullback for Steelers
Sutton Smith couldn’t help but smile while talking about being the Pittsburgh Steelers’ only two-way player on Thursday, a day after taking his first two practice reps on offense at training camp at Saint Vincent College.
The Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Smith as pass-rushing outside linebacker but are tinkering with the idea of playing the sixth-round pick as a run-blocking fullback.
The the 6-foot, 238-pounder last played running back at Francis Howell High School in Saint Charles, Mo., where he rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 32 touchdowns as a senior. He played strictly defense as a pass-rushing defensive end at Northern Illinois, where he recorded 30 sacks and 58 tackles for loss. Smith was a two-time MAC defensive player of the year and the school’s first two-time, first-team All-American.
“Honestly, I’m here for whatever he needs,” Smith said of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin. “I’m here if he wants to put me at wide receiver or whatever. I like to see myself as an athlete, so I try to do my best. I mean, I played running back in high school and I was OK at it, and he saw it on film and thought it could translate into the fullback setting so I think it’s going to be a good thing. It’s just getting the feel.”
While Smith is attempting to learn two positions at the same time in his first NFL training camp — forcing him to switch jersey numbers from 51 to 42 to become position eligible — he also knows the two-way flexibility could increase his chances of making the team.
“It puts a little bit on my plate, but it’s not something I can’t handle,” Smith said. “It’s definitely an opportunity that I want to have, and it’s a great opportunity to show what I can do so I really like it.”
Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .