Rookie Matthew Wright given shot to unseat Chris Boswell as Steelers kicker
Matthew Wright took an internship in his chosen field of studies – aerospace engineering – as a senior, and he got a job after his December graduation at Lockheed Martin.
Just in case this whole football thing didn’t work out.
But the Pittsburgh Steelers called during the draft, and there Wright was at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on Wednesday during the Steelers’ second organized team activities session of the spring.
“It’s different,” Wright said of an NFL practice as opposed to a college session at UCF. “But it’s been all good so far.”
Wright was brought in as an undrafted free agent to compete with veteran Chris Boswell to be the Steelers’ kicker going forward. Boswell was the AFC’s Pro Bowl representative at the position for the 2017 season and signed a lucrative contract with the Steelers just nine months ago.
But Boswell struggled mightily last season (seven missed field goals, five missed extra points in 15 games), and the Steelers used Matt McCrane for their season finale. McCrane, like Boswell, remained on the roster once the offseason began. But Wright was added to the mix 3 ½ weeks ago.
“I agreed to come here about midway through the draft on the third day actually,” Wright said. “They called and me, and my agent thought there was an opportunity (with the Steelers), a good opportunity.”
— UCF Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (@UCFMAE) May 6, 2019
That opportunity seemingly got better May 9 when the Steelers released McCrane in what can be interpreted as a show of confidence in Wright, who made 77.4% of his field goals and 98.5% of his extra points over three seasons as UCF’s kicker.
The thought process of Wright’s agent that Pittsburgh represented “a good opportunity” is a subtle reminder of Boswell’s struggles.
Wright, a Lancaster, Pa., native, said in their relatively short time together he and Boswell have had a good relationship.
“He’s helpful with everything,” Wright said, “and in just learning how to be a pro out here and ‘every kick matters’ and just treating it like that.”
Boswell appeared to avoid speaking with media Wednesday, taking a circuitous route around gathered reporters after practice.
UCF career points leader (375)
UCF career FG leader (55)
Career FGs: 55/71 (78%)
Career 40-49yd FGs: 22/30 (73%)
— Matt Wright (@Mattyice717) January 13, 2019
Also the kickoff specialist for UCF teams that went 25-1 the past two seasons, the 6-foot, 179-pound Wright said he aims to add some strength and size before training camp.
He’ll have a shot to unseat Boswell there and earn an NFL paycheck. If that doesn’t work out, though, aerospace engineering would seem to be quite the fallback career field.
What’s crazy is that Wright isn’t even the lone player on the Steelers’ roster who had that as a major. He joins quarterback Josh Dobbs as prospective aerospace engineers.
“I haven’t talked to (Dobbs),” Wright said with a sheepish smile. “If it comes up, it comes up. I’m not gonna (bring it up).”
Chris Adamski is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chris by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .