Rookie Ian Berryman latest to take on Jordan Berry in quest to be Steelers punter
When the draft ended early in the evening April 27, Ian Berryman nervously sat through some excruciating moments.
“It felt like an eternity,” said Berryman, then a recent graduate of Western Carolina, “but it was probably like 5 minutes after the draft they called.”
The “they” was the Pittsburgh Steelers. And the reason the Steelers called was to sign Berryman to an undrafted free-agent contract.
“I had a few other offers, but here is probably where I just felt the best fit,” Berryman said. “The Steelers wanted to sign me to a contract, and I am forever blessed for that.”
— Ian C. Berryman (@iancberryman) May 17, 2019
Berryman is the latest rookie or first-year punter the Steelers have brought in to challenge four-year incumbent Jordan Berry at the position. After an up-and-down season, Berry re-signed for two years this spring — but, of course, the contract is non-guaranteed, and coach Mike Tomlin has not been shy in expressing dissatisfaction about Berry’s performance at times.
Putting aside the unintentional humor and alliterative peculiarity of a Berry/Berryman competition, Berryman has a legitimate opportunity to earn a job — if he shows Tomlin and special teams coach Danny Smith he has the goods.
Former Catamount Ian Berryman… https://t.co/hxO4PcGQuD
— WCU Football (@WCU_FB) May 13, 2019
“Probably just hitting the same ball every time,” Berryman said of his objective at OTAs and training camp, “giving the coaches exactly what they want — so they are not guessing what happens with the ball.
“The conditions are tough up here,” Berryman said, referring to the wind and rain of Pittsburgh. “But just real excited to develop the consistency in these conditions; that’s key to sticking anywhere. If you can punt here, you can punt anywhere.”
Berryman is a Georgia native who was something of a late bloomer at punting after he had played quarterback earlier on in his high school career. He averaged 43.8 yards per his 206 punts at Western Carolina, with 56 traveling at least 50 yards, 82 downed inside the opponents’ 20 yard-line and only two being blocked.
Berryman also held for placekicks in college; that is part of the job description for the punter’s job in Pittsburgh.
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .