The Long Road to 53: Welcome to the Team


All summer long you read stories on Steelers N Stuff about players putting it all on the line to make the 53-man roster. It started off at 90 men, but only 53 can make it. There are now quite a few Steelers that realize how hard it is to make the roster and now that they have, they will never let go. This is the chance that they needed. The future is up to them. Lets introduce you to some of the men that fought for a roster spot and came out on top.

Damon Cromartie-Smith is a fourth year safety from UTEP who had no practice squad eligibility remaining. The 27-year old safety has played in six career games with the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout the 2011 and 2012 seasons. In 2010, Cromartie-Smith spent the entire season on the practice squad.

In college, Cromartie-Smith played in 46 games and started 34 of them for the Miners. He recorded 306 career tackles, four interceptions, two sacks and nine tackles for a loss, and majored in communications.

During the 2013 preseason, Cromartie Smith made 13 tackles and 1 interception. Year by year Cromartie-Smith seems to take a step in the right direction and it earned him a roster spot with the Steelers for the time being.

28-year old nose tackle Hebron Fangupo will be the Steelers’ second string nose tackle. Fangupo’s preseason only ended with one tackle but he showed good ability to move on the line and beat out Alemeda Ta’amu.

Fangupo attended BYU (2011), USC (2009-2010) and Mt. San Antonio Junior College (2007-2008). He majored in sociology. In 2011 (BYU), Fangupo earned letterman honors, named second-team All-Independent by Phil Steele and earned FBS All-Independent honorable mention honors, and played in all 13 games, making 10 starts and recording 26 tackles, six TFLs and two pass breakups

Isaiah Green, a 24 year old cornerback from Fresno State, was not on an NFL roster in 2012. He bounced around from one practice squad to another. However, Green came into the 2013 preseason determined to win a spot. Only recording four tackles all preseason, but he did enough to secure a place on the team beating out competition form 5th round pick Terry Hawthorne and Devin Smith.

Green appeared in 46 career games at Fresno State, making 16 starts. He finished his career with 94 tackles, 14 passes defensed and four TFLs, added one forced fumble and one interception.

There is no question that wide receiver Derek Moye earned his spot on the 2013 roster this preseason. Moye led all of receivers with 10 receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps what sealed his spot was the impressive ability to tackle and play special teams along with his receiving ability.

Moye was a three year starter at Penn State before going undrafted in 2012. He was a three-time honorable mention All-Big Ten performer and finished career with nearly 2,400 receiving yards on 144 receptions and 18 career receiving touchdowns.

Being signed to the roster in early August was no set back for tight end Michael Palmer. With only 23 days to show that he had enough to stay on the roster, Palmer did just that by recording 3 catches for 43 yards.

Palmer has played in 43 career games in his three years in the league corralling 21 passes for 123 yards and 3 touchdowns. Has spent time with the Falcons Seahawks, and Giants.

At Clemson, Palmer played in 49 career games and finished with 73 receptions for 825 yards and eight touchdowns.

Last year was rough for linebacker Kion Wilson as he was not on an NFL roster for the entire 2012 season. However, in 2013, Wilson bounced right back and made the Steelers’ 53-man roster. Prior to his time time with the Steelers, Wilson spent the 2010 season with the Chargers and was with Carolina in 2011.

Wilson played inside linebacker all of preseason recording 10 tackles and a sack. He along with Vince Williams beat out the competition of Marshal McFadden, Terrence Garvin, and Brian Rolle.

Wilson totaled 171 tackles, 12.5 TFLs, two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries while at USF from 2008-2009.

Steeler Nation, here are the men that beat the odds this training camp and preseason. They know the pain and struggle to get where they are today. Who knows which one could be the next Steelers super star like Brett Keisel or Ryan Clark. All of them truly know the journey and the long road it takes to be on a roster in the National Football League.

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