Steelers, NFL players and coaches pay tribute to Darryl Drake on social media |

Steelers, NFL players and coaches pay tribute to Darryl Drake on social media

Kevin Gorman
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers former wide receivers coach Darryl Drake looks on during practice Aug. 2019 at Saint Vincent College.

The death of Darryl Drake on Sunday morning at training camp at Saint Vincent College stunned the NFL.

Tributes to the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach on social media from players and coaches were heartfelt.

Steelers receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, who blossomed into a 100-catch, 1,000-yard Pro Bowl pick under Drake, called him “honestly my favorite coach I’ve had in this game.”

“He taught me so much about football and how to go about life,” Smith-Schuster wrote on Twitter. “Coach was an amazing role model not only for myself but for a lot of people who he touched. … It won’t be the same out there on the field, in meetings, and I’m gonna to miss all those long talks we used to have.”

Drake’s meetings started with the scripture. Former Steelers receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey tweeted that he spent the day going through old videos from their position meetings, and even shared a 10-second clip that he hoped “shows everyone why the football community is hurting right now.”

“That young group of WRs will miss him big time,” Heyward-Bey wrote. “Wish I was there to support.”

One of those young receivers Drake pushed the Steelers to draft is rookie Diontae Johnson, a third-round pick from Toledo. During the NFL Draft, Drake thanked Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert and coach Mike Tomlin for believing in Johnson.

Johnson returned that favor.

“Coach Darryl Drake took a chance on me and gave me a chance to live out my dream,” Johnson tweeted. “He believed in me and stayed on me every day.”

Steelers receiver Ryan Switzer, who joined the team the week before the season opener last year, called Drake “one of the greatest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to be around.”

And Tomlin’s son, Dino, a freshman at Maryland, paid tribute to Drake by quoting his advice on making a sideline catch: “Don’t drag the toe, click it, click it…”

Drake had an impact on Steelers defensive players, as well. Outside linebacker T.J. Watt tweeted about how Drake “was always so positive and upbeat,” and inside linebacker Mark Barron mentioned their “uplifting” conversations.

The tributes came from all over the NFL, from coaches Tony Dungy and Bruce Arians and Hall of Famer Rod Woodson to former Drake pupils Larry Fitzgerald and Devin Hester.

“He was a tremendous coach,” Dungy said, “and an even better man.”

“He was,” Fitzgerald said, “as good as they come.”

Hey, Steelers Nation, get the latest news about the Pittsburgh Steelers here.

Kevin Gorman is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Kevin by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Steelers
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